19 July 2017

#Sexism and #Inequality

A gentleman direct messaged me with the assertion: “inequality between genders is no longer a thing…” He included the assertions that he’s not trying to troll, that men are actually disadvantaged now, and that he’s just trying to be informed. I’ll begin by recommending people who believe these statements to do a bit of research – starting with government provided, publicly available-to-all statistics. I’ll continue by posing a few questions and sharing a few examples:

Were you aware that women in the Trump WH make 63¢ on the dollar that men make?

Were you aware that women, until the ACA, were charged nearly double what men were charged for healthcare – and that was BEFORE adding pregnancy coverage?

Were you aware that businesses and companies STILL refuse to talk to wives unless definitively specified by their husbands – but that no such limitation exists for men. My husband and I have a loan on our home; my name is on the title. But, when the mortgage company calls, they refuse to speak to me beyond leaving a contact number and message for my husband. Yet, the credit card which is in MY NAME, from the same company, upon which my husband is merely an approved user, has no qualms with full disclosure to my husband.

Were you aware that on average in America women make 79¢ to the dollar men make for the same jobs – and that we women are delighted with this “progress” over the last fifty years or so.

Were you aware that women alone are less likely to be approved for mortgages? Were you aware that women alone are less likely to be approved for small business loans?

Were you aware that women who do manage to get approved for loans are likely to be approved for LESS than men with the same financial prospects?

When my husband called a flooring company out for an estimate, they came and met with him and never considered me. When I tried to schedule a few appointments with competitors to compare costs, they would not meet with me unless “both decision makers” were present. My husband called two of them back and nothing was mentioned of “both decision makers” when he scheduled their visits.

Have you ever met a man who lost a job because he was having a baby? I personally lost a career job for that reason – I lost a baby, did not miss one day of work, but was foolish enough to answer the boss’ question when he asked if I was going to keep trying to get pregnant. Next thing I know, this award winning graphic designer was out of a job.

I know numerous women – especially service sector workers – who’ve lost their jobs because of their pregnancies. They return from a few weeks of maternity leave to find their job gone and they’ve been relegated to demotion (a common occurrence professionally); or, more likely, they don’t get enough hours put on the schedule to be able to afford to keep that job – that’s what getting pushed out of a job looks like in the service sector.

I’ve also worked jobs where I trained guys, who went on to be promoted above me.

Was that a man thrown out of the Speaker of the House’s corridor for dressing for the weather in DC? It was not.

Is it a common occurrence for women to push past men and grope them? It is for women.

Is it a common occurrence for people to comment on men’s bodies either negatively or positively? It is for women.

Is it a common occurrence for people to tell men, during serious and/or profession conversations that they need to smile? It is for women.

Do men get told to “let it go” or “sit down and be quiet” or “laugh it off” or – worst of all – “that’s just the way things are?” Women and girls are told these kinds of things all the time.

Have you ever been advised not to go somewhere public just to preserve your physical safety? Women are advised not to walk alone anywhere, especially at night. Women are taught to makes sure someone knows who they’re with and where they’re going. Women are taught that getting into a car with a new guy is accepting the physical risks that implies.

Have you ever been warned not to dress as you see fit because it entices sexual advances? Women and girls are told that all the time.

Have you ever had your male biology legislated? All non-CIS-male biologies are legislated.

Does a man have to fight for access to birth control?

Does a man have to fight for access to his little blue pill?

Is there any law concerning men even approaching the recent law in Arkansas requiring women to get the sperm donor’s permission for an abortion – even if the sperm donor is the woman’s rapist? The list of examples could go on to fill a dozen libraries… or more.

Inequality is real. There is inequality in gender and in ethnicity. If you are genuinely seeking an enlightened social intellect, it begins with being willing to accept the fact of inequality. Gains in equality are not taking anything from the fortunate-birth white-CIS-male biology; it is merely sharing the privileges with all persons which are accorded white-CIS-males by virtue of birth. See, that’s what “privilege” is: it is an advantage in life that has nothing to do with talent or skill or deservedness. The struggle for gender equality, ultimately, is the struggle for equality for all humanity.

17 July 2017

Letter to #GOP: #HealthCareIsARight

Will you hear me? Do I matter? Does my child matter?

How can you countenance gutting Medicaid and slashing protections and permitting coverage for millions to evaporate? 

I have preexisting conditions that went untreated for all of my adulthood until the ACA.

I have a 13-year old child who would not have insurance without the Medicaid expansions; my child also has ADHD and receives highly successful in-school guidance and counseling partially funded by the Medicaid expansion.

My husband works full time in the service sector. When he worked for a different service sector employer and had employer provided healthcare (at only 60% coverage with a $3000 individual deductible, $6000 for the family), it did NOT cover my son and I – we had to pay full price out of pocket to buy into his employer’s group plan. 

The ACA changed that.

How can you countenance allowing that coverage to fail? At my current age – mid 50s – I cannot maintain a reasonable quality of life without care for my preexisting conditions. For something approaching 25 years of adulthood, I did not see a pulmonologist for my asthma – a carcinoid tumor went undetected for what the doctors have said may have been decades. For twenty years I did not see an endocrinologist for my pancreatic seizures and hypoglycemia; when, after my pregnancy, I developed diabetes, I still could not see an endocrinologist until the ACA. Nor did I see a heart doctor for the arrhythmia I developed while pregnant. I did not see an orthopedic doctor for the hip dysplasia with which I was born – not even when I was pregnant;
 and, we had what was considered great insurance at the time. I suffered with Plantars Fascia without treatment until the ACA. I nearly died - full near-death experience and all – for lack of treatment for high blood pressure during a two year period when we had no insurance at all. 

Your suggestions of tax credits will not help us. We already receive the maximum deductions on our tax returns. I don’t receive disability because my husband makes just slightly too much for me to draw off his and I’m denied access to my own SS disability because I took time to be a stay-at-home mom before I became disabled. I became disabled due largely to lack of treatment for all my preexisting conditions (that’s what Catch-22 looks like). Your health savings plans are meaningless for us – if we had money to save for such a thing, we would be saving for our brilliant, tech-phenom son’s future education. Frankly, if we had money for a health savings plan, we would have all along been able to afford the “privilege” of premium insurance such as you in Congress enjoy.

Healthcare is NOT a privilege. It is as necessary as basic utilities… as necessary as food, water, air. Healthcare should never be a for-profit business. Healthcare should not be some stripped down version that just collects money while providing no substantive coverage. You cannot justify continuing to help the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to scam the nation for their ever increasing, annual multi-billion dollar profit margins. You cannot sustain tax cuts to help the wealthiest gain more wealth at the expense of the working-poor whose labors generate that wealth.

Walk through a nursing home, where sick, elderly Americans will be forced out by the Medicaid cuts, and say to those people that their healthcare is a “privilege” they did not earn after a lifetime of struggle. Walk through the emergency rooms where people who lose Medicaid coverage for their children will be found and tell those mothers that healthcare is a “privilege” their children do not deserve. Tell all the people who will end up in the emergency room when their untreated preexisting conditions leave them clinging to life, send them home with no quality of life in sight. Tell me it is a privilege to be able to breathe or to keep my heart beating. That is what permitting the ACA to fail says to hardworking, poor Americans: “Healthcare is a privilege you have no right to attain.”

The GOP’s attitude to healthcare is symptomatic of its attitude to America’s hardworking poor. That attitude is continuing a corporatist trend creating a new era of robber barons. You are helping the robber barons destroy the middle class in America, making corporate feudal wages-slaves of us all. 
It is nothing less than the social and economic brutalization of the very people who do the work of generating the wealth of this nation. Politicians, the legislation you make tells all of America for whom you work: Either you work for us and vote against this social and economic brutalization… or you work for the robber barons.

13 July 2017

Sexism and Ingrained Misogyny

It’s interesting the way MEN who’ve never had to face the immersive totality of sexism and culturally ingrained misogyny feel so confident condemning the very idea of such ingrained gender discrimination. Look… I get it. No guy thinks he is a misogynist. No guy who considers himself an honorable person wants to accept such a glaring defect in his social intellect. That’s why misogyny still exists. And yes, women can be culturally ingrained anti-feminist misogynists too. People with the social intellect to recognize the problem and brave enough to call it out are attacked by those who are too squeamish to acknowledge their own ingrained, casual misogyny.

Sure… you guys don’t beat your wife or kids. You don’t make your women wear burkas. You don’t have a problem with women working. You don’t sell your daughters in marriage. Heck… you’re probably even all for lesbian intimacy for entertainment. 

Truthfully, we are all – every single human being – guilty of prejudices both gender and ethnic based. We’ve been taught those prejudices from the cradle. Factually, most of us recognize the wrong of those prejudices and try to overcome them. Ingrained prejudices – whether sexism or ethnic are casual because they are UNINTENDED. No one is accusing people who express ingrained prejudices of trying to oppress anyone. 

For the gentlemen reading this… Benefit of the doubt: You are evolved men who would never think of oppressing women.

That’s NOT The Same Thing As Ingrained Misogyny. 
It’s something even more deeply insidious. Most likely, it’s something you do or say completely unwares. It’s probably something akin to what I personally experienced with my own father. My father loves me and has always been proud of me and my talents. He took me to what I think was an art museum (or some kind of picture exhibit) when I was a child and I looked up at a painting in which the eyes seemed to follow you about the room. I said to him that I was going to learn to paint like that (FYI, I did achieve that goal). However, at the time he responded with what I’m certain he believed to be a kindly response and that he was advising me with what he accepted was a necessary truth. He replied, “But, sweetheart, there are no women artists.”

I believe that most people try to understand and make an effort to think and act fairly. But, see, most folks don’t realize the way culturally ingrained misogyny comes out. You, as men, cannot have the experience of the way that misogyny cuts deep into the psyches of women and girls. You cannot experience the burning injustices of it all. It is not possible for you to understand how the cultural misogyny becomes ingrained even in women and girls. Our societies have been ingrained to live and breathe the misogyny as “just the way things are.”

Yet, consider this… Think of the recent kerfuffle over Andy Murray correcting the ingrained, casual misogyny of the reporter who asked him about “the first US player” (not just the first US man – but, the first US person) to have made it to a major semi-final since 2009 – completely ignoring the FOUR American women who’d done so well before this interview with Andy Murray.

Permit me a pause to extend MUCH kudos to Mr. Murray for his enlightened social intellect.

To continue… Put yourselves into those women’s positions… Those four American women in the world of tennis… The reporter accorded the first man to finally achieve what they had long ago achieved the accolade of being first, of being the best, being prime. Those women and their achievements did not exist for that reporter in that moment. Those amazing women athletes were relegated to LESS than the man who finally caught up with them and made the grade. 

That is sexism and ingrained misogyny.

Here is the video of the referenced interview, 
with Andy Murray’s enlightened social intellect on display…

05 July 2017

My #ACA, #Obamacare story… #RESIST

I’ve had preexisting conditions all my life, from the NICU at birth: Asthma, hypoglycemia, pancreatic seizures, hereditary dishidrosis, poor eyesight, hip dysplasia, food and environmental allergies… As an adult, during pregnancy, I developed gestational diabetes plus an arrhythmia from full-blown eclampsia – post pregnancy, high BP and diabetes set in, a carcinoid tumor was found on my lung (thanks to the ACA making it possible for me to see a pulmonologist at last) and is being monitored, I developed Plantars Fascia, arthritic hips, and became disabled because of the sum of my conditions. The truth is that most of my problems may never have become serious if I’d been able to get treatment for the decades years of my adult life I was denied healthcare coverage for my preexisting conditions – that included the arrhythmia post pregnancy until the ACA. I went from 2003 until the ACA went into effect without treatment for an arrhythmia! That tumor on my lung may have been there for decades but I never saw a pulmonologist in all that time because my asthma was a preexisting condition for which I was legally denied treatment before the ACA.

My husband works full time in the service sector with NO employer provided healthcare. Oh – and we all know that employer provided healthcare ONLY covers the employee – NOT their spouses and children; spouses and children’s coverage comes at full price out of pocket paid by the employee – spouses and children were NEVER covered by employers; employer plans only make it possible for employees to buy into the plan for their dependents – at full cost out of pocket.

Without the ACA, I would probably be dead by now. I would certainly be in deep decline and my thirteen year old son would be watching his mother die. Moreover, my son, himself, would be without healthcare if it wasn’t for the ACA Medicare expansion.

Your plan is ludicrously out of touch with the reality of the working poor. Tax credits are meaningless to us. We already get the maximum tax deductions and use that return to keep paying our modest mortgage all year. And no, that does NOT mean we don’t pay taxes – as you well know. It means we get some of those taxes back which we then pay sales tax and service fees upon for every dollar of which is spent and put back into the economy – because we are surviving financially off that tax return.

Because I haven’t worked in over ten years due to my disabilities, I cannot draw my social security disability and my husband makes just barely over the limit for me to draw disability on his social security. BTW, that also means he makes just that little bit too much for us to get any kind of assistance, including food stamps. OH, BTW – I’m told (by the SS caseworker who denied my disability claim) that I will NEVER draw social security in my own right, even though I paid in for 25 working years before becoming disabled, just because I’ve not worked for more than ten years. I worked for every cent that was taken out of every paycheck I ever received. That is NOT a tax nor an entitlement – that is my earned wages being stolen by my own government with no accounting for those contributions. I WANT MY MONEY BACK!

As for health savings accounts – damn! If we could save money for that, we wouldn’t be spending our tax return all year making up the income difference every month because my immigrant husband, who speaks six languages (three fluently) and graduated on the National Dean’s List is relegated to the service sector and not deemed worth even $15 an hour, let alone decent employer provided healthcare.

Detach your lips from the festering backsides of the Kochs and ALEC and open your eyes to the devastation you are wreaking upon America’s hard-working poor, sick, elderly, disabled, and children. You claim to work for Americans but you obviously believe the only Americans who matter are those rich enough to be lining your campaign coffers. Your actions sacrifice everyone else on the altar to your gods, the ├╝ber rich.

You also know that the only reason the ACA is failing is because YOU – the members of the GOP – have done everything in your power to sabotage it for the last seven years! You never considered working to make the ACA better. You never tried to suggest anything else in its place. You never even started any kind of plan of your own. You just kept fighting the law of the land to suit your theocratic corporatist overlords. Stop trying to kill the ACA – Stop trying to kill honest, hard-working Americans and their families who rely upon the ACA.