Yesterday was a scary day in the United States. I’m sure you’ve gotten wind by now that SCOTUS ruled that private corporations can opt out of paying for contraceptives if they say providing coverage for contraceptives would go against their personal religious beliefs.
People are worried about the precedent this will set. And rightly so! Some people are saying this paves the way for corporations to deny other health care options based on religious beliefs, such as vaccines. It would be really scary if that happened. But what is also scary is that care related to women’s health, not vaccines, is what caused this enormous backlash. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the issue that brought all this about is one that primarily benefits women and upholds their right to self-autonomy and, ultimately, self-dignity.
You don’t have to venture too far into the depths of the Internet to get at what, I think, is the heart of this matter. This post on the Daily Kos illuminates some of the most disturbing reactions on twitter to this. These tweets point to the misogyny so many people still harbor. The author found tweeters who said that they’ll celebrate by making their wives make them a sandwich or that this ruling is ftw against promiscuous women.
I am so sure that many people who are okay with these tweets would wave them off as jokes. Like wow, that’s so funny that these guys treat their wives like servants, especially considering the fact that not even 100 years ago women couldn’t vote. Wow hilarious since the baby boomer generation grew up in an era when women were relegated to being homemakers, provider their husbands earned enough. Oh and how about those references to promiscuous women? Oh yes slut shaming is a real laugh, please go on! (And just to be perfectly clear, my comments that any of this stuff is funny is sarcasm).
What about the fact that about 80% of women use birth control? Are that many women then promiscuous? No, wait, I am not going to even entertain that last question for long because what does promiscuous even mean anyways? Why is a woman’s sex life even being brought up? If you are of the mindset that 100 years ago was a long time ago and so I should quit bringing up the fact women couldn’t vote 100 years ago then you should also not be slut-shaming and/or writing off slut-shaming as “just a joke.” Because if we are, in fact, in a post-misogynist society then slut-shaming and criticizing women’s sex lives should no longer exist in any capacity.
Unfortunately the reality is that the ordeal of misogyny and sexism goes on and that is why women are still being labeled promiscuous. The fact that anyone who objects to slut-shaming or sexist jokes is then met with hostility and/or told “it’s just a joke” is evidence that misogyny hasn’t been buried. And I believe that’s why corporations got so concerned about birth control. The hatred of women, which we have all internalized whether we realize it or not, is what leads people to become so belligerent over birth control that they march to the Supreme Court to demand what they see as justice. Oh and let’s not forget that what they are basing this outrage on isn’t even accurate because contraceptives, emergency or otherwise, prevent, not terminate, pregnancies.
There are also layers of racism and classism in this because this decision will most impact poor and working class women, and unfortunately poverty disproportionately impacts women of color. I am white and middle class and have a great job with great benefits. This decision isn’t going to impact me personally. But I care about others and I know that it is not out of the realm of possibility that I could ever be in such a circumstance. Because this ruling is going to impact a lot of women who have fewer resources and/or work at a company whose managers happen to hold different beliefs. I saw a tweet that was mocking people who don’t want to pay the $9/month for birth control. First of all, it looks like at a minimum, it is $15/month. And yes it may come as a surprise to some privileged people but some people can’t afford $15 (or even $9) extra on top of their existing expenses. Not to mention that rape and abuse are very real issues and birth control may be some women’s best defense against being tied to an abuser for the rest of their lives (though I also want to note that controlling behaviors are insidious and infinite and so even birth control could be sabotaged by an abuser). And truly this really is about socioeconomic class. Because the people “at the top” are getting to make major decisions about the personal health of those who are “under” them. Ughhhhhh.
No really ugggghhhhhhh… there is just so much wrong with this… I could go on and on. But I don’t need to write a 35 page dissent when that was already done so eloquently and thoroughly by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So instead I’ll end with these thoughts… Women have been through a whole hell of a lot since the dawn of time but we are still here and still strong. This is another struggle that we know we can handle – even if we shouldn’t have to. So who’s up for boycotting Hobby Lobby? According to this article, women are a huge chunk of Hobby Lobby shoppers. Note the author of this article then says anecdotally that most crafty people she knows are more conservative and/or Christian – well I call bananas on that because in my liberal social circle, knitting and making your own stuff is super in. I mean – how hipster-y are arts and crafts? C’mon! But anyways maybe the large percentage of Hobby Lobby’s shoppers who are female (or people of other genders who support women) need to speak out and let them know that we respect their personal religious beliefs but don’t believe they have a right to hold their personal beliefs over others.