Monday, June 30, 2014

Hobby Lobbyists & the No Good, Very Bad Day for Women

Well, Supreme Court, you've done it.  You've gone and woken the sleeping Samuel L. Jackson inside this normally mild-mannered girl.  You've gone and gotten my estrogen up with this bullshit decision that says Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, as companies owned by a small number of individuals, no longer have to provide coverage for contraception, because it goes against their religious values.

At the outset, I just have to say, HAHAHAHAHHAHAFUCKINGHAHAHAHHAHAFUCKINGHA, to anyone who thought this was about ANYTHING remotely resembling religious values.  This, as is the case with most things business-related, was about power and politics.  However, throwing in "religion" as a buzzword is a clever bit of consideration by Mr. Green (Mr. Hobby or Mr. Lobby, however you choose to refer to him), seeing as simply shouting "RELIGION" in this day and age is akin to shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater.  Both situations can turn deadly in a moment and are usually initiated by people foaming at the mouth.  Mr. Green, a 72-year old white man (I say this only because he is decidedly in the demographic of people in complete and total control of this country) claims that the Affordable Care Act's stipulation that women wishing to have access to birth control is absolutely, positively breaking the Hobby Lobby bank. This would presumably be because, if they refused to provide contraception outright, without first getting permission from the Supreme Court Don Vito Corleone, they'd have to pay hefty fines.  This case may have claimed religion as its initial basis, but it was always about their best option of sticking it to the Obama Administration; a way of bringing a case that sounded like it could be a real reason, as opposed to "you can't sit at our table, we don't like you" and sticking one's tongue out.
Here's the problem: This decision actually affects real people and the way real people live their lives;  something I'm sure a man in charge of a business that brought in 2.28 billion dollars last year, is not quite as familiar with as he'd love for the gullible to believe.

The only thing that you, Supreme Court Justices Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas (who by the way, all happen to be Republican men, much like Mr. Green, just saying) have done today is convey to women that we are, indeed second-class citizens.  You've taken another step down the path that claims that our right to make a choice about our bodies is at the whim of your ability to control them.  You've instituted what amounts to an employee health slavery status.  Women will now have to ask for, what is essentially, a permission slip from their doctors in order to acquire preventative health measures for themselves from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga (for now, more businesses to come, you can be sure, that's how slippery slopes work).  Grown women, who have been raised, who have had the wherewithal to gain employment, who have been reliable as all employees are expected to be, will have to gain permission slips like they're elementary school children going to the aquarium for the first time.

The case was brought by stating that the Affordable Care Act's provision that women have access to certain contraceptives was against these companies' religious beliefs.  Not being an employee of Hobby Lobby, I have to ask, is it a requirement that an employee AGREE with the owners religious beliefs in order to gain employment at La Lobs?  If not, well then, it's very convenient to have that available as the sole basis for your argument to THE HIGHEST COURT IN THE LAND!  It's the equivalent of a public school Principal saying to a teacher, well, you don't like the Yankees, and those crayons you want to buy for your first grade class are REALLY going to break the school's budget.  The fact that the teacher doesn't like the Yankees shouldn't factor in to ANYTHING.  If employees are required to all share Mr. Green's religious beliefs then, by all means, please ignore this rant.  However, I somehow have the sneaking suspicion that they don't, because then that would be called discrimination.

If employees aren't all required to share in Mr. Green's religious beliefs, then I have another question that I'd like to put forth that bothers me, and that is, why is it just FEMALE contraception being excluded from your health insurance?  Are vasectomies also being prohibited by your health insurance in your campaign to ensure that every egg that can be fertilized will be fertilized?  Is Viagra being handed out at work parties in an effort to encourage your male employees to procreate as much as possible?  I have a fun "what if" scenario to put forth, that might, just might paint this decision in a slightly different light.  WHAT IF: condoms were regulated by insurance companies, doctors, and the pharmaceutical companies? WHAT IF, men had to go to their doctors for a monthly prescription of condoms (which, let's face facts, if your married, you'd be psyched if that monthly prescription was 15 condoms)?  What if this decision had just told you that you now have to go to your employer to ASK THEM IF YOU COULD HAVE ACCESS TO CONDOMS?  Would you do that? Would you be happy about that? Would you feel humiliated at having to insinuate that there was sexual activity going on in your life to an employer whose business that shouldn't be?

This ruling has once again told women that humiliation and shame are just part of the fucking job of being a woman.  Well, let me just clarify something quickly for the uninitiated, or more precisely, the un-ovaried. Here's what it was like for me to grow up as a female:

Age 9- Everything is wonderful, you can be a princess or a professional soccer player, or an astronaut or a wife or a mother, you can do whatever you want! Oh and here's a movie that involves a uterus made out of a pancake telling you how decidedly NON-FRIGHTENING it will be when puberty hits.
Age 11 (if you're lucky and unaffected by environmental issues)-you're sitting in class and suddenly you can hardly sit up.  What's wrong with your stomach? Ms. Smith, can I have permission to use the lav? OH MY GOD, WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME? I'm BLEEDING THROUGH 2 LAYERS. Oh my god, I also have a stain on my pants!
Age 15  "Mom, I really can't go to school today.  No! I'm not faking it, I literally can't walk.  It hurts so much. No, I'm just going to stay here with my knees curled up to my chest with a heating pad over my lower stomach.  Can I have two more advil?"
Age 18 "Wait, so the Pill can help you REGULATE your period?  It can help you NOT feel like you want to die every month?"

Now, I realize that this decision is "supposed" to only be about the "Morning After Pill" and IUDs.  But here's where things get a BIT tricky.  The Morning After Pill, I almost understand as being a religiously motivated objection.  It's not necessarily something I agree with, but it's an opinion with certain religious merit.  This doesn't mean it should fall under government jurisdiction, but for the moment, let's leave that be.
The IUDs, however, I have a bit more of a problem with. IUDs (or IntraUterine Devices) are, essentially, just internal birth control.  They last longer, and they are inserted into your uterus, but essentially, they perform the same function as the pill.  I'm not quite sure how there can really be a distinction between an IUD and the Pill, for the purposes of this case, and therin lies the problem.  With this decision today, the wet and wild of slippery slopes has been created because it is literally just a matter of time before a small, private company comes knocking on the Supreme Court's door, asking that the Pill be added to the list of things they won't pay for.  This is why people who are on the fence about this issue should be angry NOW.
This decision today has reinforced the stigma that the Pill has had since it's introduction to the world in 1960, which is, essentially, that only women who are loose with their morals and even looser with their legs need the pill or contraception options, and that is absolutely not the case.  Most women just want to be responsible human beings, believe it or not.  More often than not, it's the ones with vaginas in the relationship saying "hey you have additional protection in the form of a super-handy readily avaialable at any pharmacy codom, right?" Dudes are mostly saying "ugh...it totally messes with the way I feel everything".  And yet, somehow women are the ones who bare the brunt of sole responsibility when that pregnancy test ends up with a plus sign.
What they never really tell you is that the Pill does far more than "prevent" anything.  It helps lower female mortality rates, including lowering the death rates of many cancers specific to female reproductive organs, as well as treating, among other things, endometriosis.  For those of you who don't know how painful it can be to have your own body plotting a revolution one uterine tissue at a time, endometriosis can be devastatingly painful, as well as a major cause of infertility.
In fact, if Mr. Green is so worried about ensuring that women be as fertile as possible, his dedication to removing birth control as an option on health insurance might actually HINDER some of his employees from enjoying optimal female health. Of course, there are side effects to the pill, too, because what would it mean to be a woman, if you didn't have to second guess everything you put in your body, but to wholesale deny women the right to have the OPTION to be covered by their employer is neglectful on the part of the employer, to say the least. What I'm saying is, this is NOT a fight simply about one aspect of female contraception. It's not JUST about the morning after pill, it's not just about the IUD.  It can't be because this isn't a simple issue.  It's about all of them because EVENTUALLY, it will be about all of them, because now the religious objection foundations have been laid.  This is about the money that could have been potentially lost by Hobby Lobby if they refused to follow the law.  Instead of following the law, they took the cowards way out by attacking the most obviously controversial aspect of it.  If they had any guts they would have taken on the entire Affordable Care Act, but I'm sure their lawyers assured them there'd be no joy to be had in that debate.  So they took the easy way out.  By the way, Mr. Green, how much money are you paying those female employees who may need to pay for their contraceptive choice (should they choose to have one)? Oh, not enough money to support a child on a single female's salary? But she decided to take the pro-life route, shouldn't that be rewarded?  Oh...no?

This is an issue about the separation of church and state.  For a country that seems so hung up on an amendment that was originally added to prevent foreign armies from coming in to take your home from you because they could, this country sure seems willing to let the government in to the most private of issues.  If you think this decision was about keeping the government OUT of business, I hate to tell you this, but all it really did was kick down the door to let the Government right on in.  I just wonder how much supporters will like it when it's a different religion, or a different company getting their way?

So what this decision says, in short order is:
1-Rich, old white men will always protect other Rich, old white men (especially if they will eventually contribute to a campaign)
2-Women's choices are only at the whims of said rich, old white men
3-Religion has become a buzzword; make sure you're aware of when the politicians are playing you
4-It doesn't matter what else the pill can do for you, the only thing that matters is SEX (but don't say it too loud, we really don't care about sex, or talk about sex, or watch sex or buy magazines about sex or sell sex, mostly to the detriment of women's self esteem)
5-if you're a woman thinking about gaining any power, you might want to hope you grow up to be a rich, old, white man

I hope for everyone's sake, that all of those very righteous people making these decisions don't find out that, at some point, their daughter or that neighbor whose barbecues they always go to has made a one-night mistake or that, somewhere in the US, the woman sitting in the pew next to them at church has taken the morning-after pill because she can't figure out how in the world she could protect another one of her children from her abusive husband who has said on more than one occasion that he would kill the kids and her if she ever tried to leave.

It's important to remember, laws aren't necessarily just made for the benefit of the choir, sometimes they're made to protect the exceptions.

So, still filled with the ire I started this piece with, I'd just like to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson from Snakes on a Plane and say:

I'VE HAD IT WITH ALL THESE MONKEY FIGHTING DUDES WITH THEIR HANDS ON MY MONDAY TO FRIDAY TUBES

He can say it better than me though:




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