Yesterday, Mother Jones published the photo above of twenty-four politicians and Mr. Trump discussing the future of health care in America. The headline was “What’s missing from this picture?”
In case you’re wondering, what’s missing is women. It’s an all-male conclave. Among other things, they’re discussing whether our insurance should cover mammograms, if treatment for pre-existing conditions will cost us more (did you know previous pregnancies are sometimes considered “pre-existing conditions”?), even whether women can be charged more than men are charged, for the same insurance.
Why are these people so hell-bent on destroying all the safeguards built up over the past decades to protect women and children?
Given the mistreatment of women through the ages, it’s not a great leap to believe that ― consciously or unconsciously ― many of these men view women as only a necessary evil. They put up with us because they must, but they’d really rather not. Looked at that way, we are merely brood mares. Convenient repositories. If they could replace our wombs with vats that never talked back, they would.
Yes, these words are harsh, but are they harsher than history? My own mother couldn’t get a credit card or buy property without my father’s consent and signature, regardless of her earnings. When my wife was a single parent, she couldn’t rent an apartment unless she lied and said her husband had been killed in Vietnam.
Societal norms we take for granted reinforce the position of women as second-class citizens. Many times, women are culturally forced into clothing that grants easier access to our bodies. (When I was a teenager, I was barred from entering restaurants if I was wearing pants). Clothing that prevents our running away or defending ourselves is pushed as “feminine” or “elite” (foot binding, high heels). In some places, women are routinely maimed to make sure they can’t enjoy the sexual act. (The polite term for this is “female genital mutilation”, or more accurately, slicing off a woman’s clitoris and digging out the root. No, it’s not the same as male circumcision. A man can still attain orgasm after that, and death from male circumcision is rare.)
Some women aren’t permitted to go anywhere unless accompanied by a male family member. Some are covered head to toe in shapeless garments, because the sight of a female body is so enticing that any man seeing it becomes an animal in rut. Some men will not shake a woman’s hand in case she’s unclean (menstruating). Some women have to shave their heads to avoid creating temptation.
These customs don’t only denigrate women. They assume men are little better than dumb beasts, easily pushed into the most heinous acts simply because they see a member of the opposite sex. I’m reminded of the famous Golda Meir story: Israel was experiencing an epidemic of rapes against women. Someone suggested women be put under a curfew until the rapists were caught. Meir’s response was “Men are committing the rapes. Let them be put under curfew.”
Let’s face it. If men were serious about protecting women, they would police one another, instead of policing our bodies. They would educate their sons to respect us, not because we’re female, but because we’re human. They would recognize that it’s just as important for fathers to bond with children, and insist both sexes be given reasonable maternity leave. They’d demand women be treated with parity, and they’d speak up in our defense whenever we’re harassed, in the workplace or on the street.
Sadly, these politicians aren’t talking about that. They’re talking about creating rules which will determine our health and that of our families, for generations to come.
I’d like to offer a secondary platform, one that will also reduce over-population, single parenthood, abortions, and unwanted children.
I propose that an all-female, bi-partisan committee be formed to decide the following:
1. What forms a man has to fill out in order to apply for a vasectomy, and under what conditions he is permitted to waste his sperm that way. After all, many doctors still refuse to perform hysterectomies for women “of child-bearing age”, and bills routinely come up demanding a the father give consent before she can have an abortion.
2. Whether, since pregnancy is God’s will, inability to attain an erection is also God’s will, in which event Viagra is against the will of God and shouldn’t be used ― or sold ― by anyone who believes God’s will should prevail.
3. Wether any politician opposing women’s reproductive rights should have to pay the costs to care for at least one disabled child for that child’s entire life.
4. Whether men should pay for their own prostate exams, unless all insurance policies also cover mammograms and gynecological examinations.
5. Whether men should be held equally accountable for any pregnancy that results from their sleeping with a woman. Don’t give me that “She put pin holes in the condom.” And you put what, where?
6. Whether men with STDs should have to pay for the treatment of women who develop chlamydia or other STDs after sleeping with them, including cancers detected years later.
7. Last, let’s put stiff penalties in place for any man wasting his potential offspring by masturbating. While we all know it doesn’t make hair grow on your hands, these monies could go into a pool for the care of children when one parent or the other has failed to support them.
If you refuse to spend money on pre-natal care, realistic sex education, nutritional counseling and free nutritious lunches available from pre-school on for all students – then you don’t care about children.
If you’re going to complain about the expense of providing health care to women, then you don’t care about women.
You only care about yourself.
You’re saying that women are lower than men, and children are lower than either.
If this country provided decent universal health care, we would have a smarter, healthier population. Better nutrition equals more intelligence. Better medical care equals more energy to be a productive member of society.
When will these male politicians own up to what they are really doing to us? And when will the women who helped vote them into office vote them out, replacing them with politicians who actually care for our welfare?
Because realistically, if we are going to be regarded as nothing more than “brood mares”, we should be better fed, better housed, and better treated than this.