March 12, 2009

Wa-Po blogger Cillizza implies Obama’s Council on Women and Girls is not for addressing gender issues

Posted in gender, male feminists, mass media, news, politics, sexual politics, U.S. politics at 4:30 pm by LB

In an odd phrasing, Washington Post political blogger Chris Cillizza seems to imply that Obama’s call for a Council on Women and Girls, is not primarily a result of his recognition that we need policies and solutions to social problems that adequately address how they impact women and families (for whom women are still overwhelmingly responsible for the care of).  In other words, Obama is forming this council out of the recognition that appropriate solutions to social problems must take both men’s and women’s experiences into consideration.

Cillizza seems to imply otherwise:

Obama has both personal — his wife and two daughters — and political reasons to make this sort of high profile move to ensure that women’s needs are being addressed by his administration.

In 2008, 53 percent of the electorate was female and Obama carried that group 56 percent to 44 percent over Arizona Sen. John McCain.

So Obama’s “personal” reasons for putting the council into place are that he has a wife and daughters.  Yawn.  How insulting to think that men are only concerned about women’s issues and the male-centric models of citizenship and public policy because they have daughters.   I would hope that there might too be fathers of boys who are concerned about gender issues so their sons could have the  socially-supported ability  to be at-home dads if they choose, without their masculinity  being denigrated and without threat to family finances because their female partner’s career is being stymied by gender discrimination (by pay or “mommy tracking”) or sexual harassment in the workplace.

And the “political” reasons Obama is putting this into place is…to keep the allegiance of his female voters (?).  So Obama is doing this to keep women happy, not because it’s good policy?

Reading between the lines, much?

Oh and let us not forget, this council is in no way (expected to be) substantial: “Expect then more symbolic moves like the establishment of the Council to demonstrate Obama’s commitment to women and women’s issues.”  Because all women voters expect are empty gestures without results.  Because women usually applaud style over substance.  Because women don’t want to be taken seriously, just acknowledged.  Because women are above all, fans of [political] superficiality.

(I think you have us confused with lad-mag apologists.)

And I think you underestimate women as political actors who demand accountability, as well as our new President, who has demonstrated at least an understanding that there are structural barriers to success that equal rights legislation did not address.

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September 12, 2008

Quote of the day

Posted in politics, U.S. politics at 9:48 pm by LB

Quote of the day…unfortunately, it was from a somewhat offensive and bullshit post at Huff-Po.  But the end is excellent:

Stop voting for people you want to have a beer with. Stop voting for folksy. Stop voting for people who remind you of your neighbor. Stop voting for the ideologically intransigent, the staggeringly ignorant, and the blazingly incompetent.

Vote for someone smarter than you. Vote for someone who inspires you. Vote for someone who has not only traveled the world but who has also shown a deep understanding and compassion for it. The stakes are real and they’re terrifyingly high. This election matters. It matters. It really matters. Let me say that one more time. This. Really. Matters.

September 4, 2008

Because sometimes “fake news” coverage is better than the actual news

Posted in double standards, gender, humor, mass media, news, politics, U.S. politics at 6:49 pm by LB

Everything I want to say about the hypocrisy around the rhetoric about Palin, and especially the Republicans’ vomit-inducing use of gender rhetoric can be summed up by this brilliant analysis by the “fake news” reporter, Jon Stewart, on the September 3, 2008 The Daily Show:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Sarah Palin Gender Card | The Daily S…“, posted with vodpod

In Canada, watch it on clip 2 here.

And in more The Daily Show-induced commentary….typically, I take the position that families and spouses/ partners are “off-limits” with regards to politics. But Stewart, in his interview with Newt Gingrich, makes an excellent point, which I think can help us forge a distinction between personal attacks on Palin’s daughter (i.e. “what an irresponsible slut!”) and dissonances between individual actions and beliefs and political positions. “The personal is political.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Newt Gingrich | The Daily Show | Come…“, posted with vodpod

(Here in Canada)

Isn’t it sad when politicians and pundits seem to get called on their bullshit more often by “fake news” shows than the “real” ones?

July 17, 2008

The Bush administration is its own expert on reproduction, economy

Posted in gender, reproductive rights, sexual politics, U.S. politics, WTF at 12:00 pm by LB

I don’t write much (really, at all) on policy issues…there are so many blogs and organizations that do it much better than I ever could.  But I wrote this piece for The Reaction, where I co-blog (see my sidebar), so I thought I’d post it here too even though it’s not relevant to the “theme” of my blog.  Also, be sure to check out The Reaction, for smart commentary on U.S. politics and current events, with a smattering of global issues as well, and of course, I cross-post many of my feminist cultural studies pieces there too.

According to its report released Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to change the definition of “abortion” used to determine which services can be provided or referred at a facility receiving federal funds. As RH Reality Check reports, there are two commonly used understandings of when a pregnancy begins: conception (fertilization of the egg by the sperm) and implantation (of the fertilized egg into the uterine lining).

The report states:

A 2001 Zogby International American Values poll revealed that 49% of Americans believe that human life begins at conception […] Both definitions of pregnancy inform medical practice. Some medical authorities, like the American Medical Association and the British Medical Association, have defined the term “established pregnancy” as occurring after implantation. Other medical authorities present different definitions. Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, for example, defines pregnancy as “[t]he state of a female after conception and until the termination of the gestation.”

The HHS report is suggesting that the definition of pregnancy be changed from the definition established by the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to one defined by…I’m not quite sure. RH Reality Check suggests that this change is being determined by polling data, but unless some of the sample said they didn’t know, or they have some creative ideas about when pregnancy begins, 49% is not a majority. In any case, HHS is proposing that we change the definition of pregnancy from what has been established by medical bodies of experts to another definition established by…the Bush administration.

This new definition is highly problematic. Pregnancy would now be defined as occurring upon fertilization, and with no test for fertilization, women who utilize federally-funded health facilities can be turned away for contraceptive services on a whim. And as feministingnotes, the women who will be the most affected are low-income and uninsured women. Not to mention that claims that certain contraceptives prevent implantation after fertilization are scientifically unproven. From RH Reality Check:

There is no scientific evidence that hormonal methods of birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. This argument is the basis upon which the religious right hopes to include the 40% of the birth control methods Americans use, such as the pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, the IUD, and emergency contraception, under the classification “abortion.”

What happens then is that the decision of whether or not something counts as an abortifacient is up to the individual…doctor or nurse (of courseit’s not up to the individual woman!). And since the proposal also includes mandating that doctors and nurses who are “conscientious objectors” not be “discriminated” against in hiring practices by facilities receiving federal funds, we have a recipe for disaster for women’s reproductive rights.

So we have an HHS report that refutes the definition of pregnancy made by medical experts, uses unscientifically proven claims about how contraception functions vis-a-visfertilization and implantation in order to redefine the contraceptive methods that 40% of women use as abortifacients, and enables federally-funded medical facilities to deny the most economically vulnerable women basic contraceptive services. And this from the “family values” administration who seems to loathe single women receiving social welfare, considering their perspective on the Temporary Assistance to Needy Familiesprogram.

This also comes from our President who chastises reporters for using the term “recession” in discussing the state of our economy, since reporters aren’t economic “experts.” As we see here, what the experts say doesn’t mean all that much to Bush when it comes to reproductive rights and pandering to the religious right’s agenda.

(Cross-posted to The Reaction)

May 15, 2008

Quick note on Obama’s apology

Posted in language politics, news, sexism, U.S. politics at 4:38 pm by LB

As it turns out, Obama personally apologized to the reporter he called ‘sweetie’ yesterday a few hours after the encounter. From his voicemail:

“I’m calling to apologize on two fronts. One was you didn’t get your question answered and I apologize. […] Second apology is for using the word ‘sweetie.’ That’s a bad habit of mine. I do it sometimes with all kinds of people. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front. Feel free to call me back. I expect that my press team will be happy to try to make it up to you whenever we are in Detroit next.” (emphasis mine)

First, I really appreciate and respect that he admitted to being wrong. Though it’s awfully pathetic that I’m actually impressed by this; unfortunately, this is the kind of incident that in our culture would typically elicit the “I’m sorry you’re oversensitive and took it the wrong way” kind of apology. But it seems to me that Obama made a genuine apology and owning up to his “bad habit” using a type of language that perpetuate inequality. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the first time this “bad habit” has come up.

Second, I like his swift response. I think he had already apologized by the time I had even read about the incident. Which makes him seem more genuine to me–he knew he was wrong and took care it it in a timely manner. He didn’t need to read the public response to his comment to ‘realize’ it.

Third, I have to say that he doesn’t do it with “all kinds of people”…namely, he doesn’t do it with grown, professional men. While I appreciate that he is trying to say he didn’t mean it personally, it isn’t quite accurate to say he says it for anybody. To say “all kinds of people” dismisses the specifically gendered use of the term, which while it may be used as a term of endearment for loved ones, is wholly condescending to use, especially for a professional woman. And as I said above, it’s certainly not the first time Obama has used it to refer to women he doesn’t know. And as it turns out, this woman never got her interview (insult to injury).

I like Obama. I was truly disappointed to hear him refer to a woman in this way. And I can’t ethically loathe the media’s sexism against Clinton without pointing out sexism if Obama does it (and especially with how much I blog about language). But I think his apology was genuine, that he understands he did wrong (rather than that it was merely “taken to wrong way”), and that he desires to do right by people. I just wish that he could have also realized that it wasn’t a generic “bad habit”. And especially with NARAL’s recent endorsement, I do hope to see him recognize the need for our culture to take women seriously.

(Cross-posted to The Reaction)

May 14, 2008

Hey Obama: a female reporter is not ‘sweetie’

Posted in gender, language politics, news, sexism, U.S. politics at 7:53 pm by LB

Um, yeah…this is annoying.

(as I’ve written before)

I posted yesterday about the excellent Huff-Po article about phallocentric masculinity in politics and one of the points was the feminization of Obama. Calling a professional reporter ‘sweetie’? Chalk one up for Obama’s masculinity!

(cross-posted to The Reaction)

The presidential election and masculinity

Posted in gender, gender stereotypes, patriarchy, sexual politics, U.S. politics at 11:30 am by LB

Stephen Ducat’s recent Huff-Po article, “Revenge of the Wimp Factor: The Ironies of Proving Manhood in the Democratic Primary” is a fascinating read. He starts off with a very accessible summary of psychoanalytic theory on the phallus as a central organizing term of utmost importance and value, while actually being illusory.

In terms of elections, Ducat says:

In spite of being an evanescent hallucination, political consultants spend much of their time trying to paint a phallus on their candidate. […] In most electoral contests, the question is often “who’s the man?” And the manner in which political manhood gets displayed is tiresomely predictable: macho chest beating, posing with the fetish objects of anxious masculinity (trucks, big machines, and even bigger weapons), humiliating your opponent with castrating insults, calling into question his or her ability to be tough, ruthless, and merciless with the designated enemy of the moment — in short, phallic strutting.

He continues by showing how Sen. Clinton has made herself into the archetypal procurer of the phallus and all it represents, a representation that began by conservatives when she was First Lady, who also represented Pres. Clinton as feminized and emasculated.   These representations were negatives for  Clinton-as-First Lady, but as used by her campaign as positives.

Ducat makes the important point:

Some may ask a very reasonable feminist question that could challenge this argument: why must toughness, Machiavellianism, combativeness, or even swaggering bellicosity be viewed as masculine? They certainly needn’t. But it is, as we have seen, Hillary Clinton herself, along with her surrogates, who have explicitly gendered those traits in the campaign. As the oleaginous Clinton loyalist, James Carville, has said, if Mrs. Clinton gave Obama one of her testicles, “they’d both have two.” (emphasis mine)

I think this is an excellent point, and refers to the very limiting patriarchal constructions of masculinity and of civic competence specifically.   One thing I’m wondering is if her phallic posturing is in part a response to the media’s sexist approach to her being a female candidate (see Shakeville’s series, currently on part 91), on top of the phallic seeming-requirement in politics and a way to avoid “the link American men have always made between effeminacy and aristocratic manners and privilege.”

Then there’s the representation of Sen. Obama:

More recently, we have the example of Barack Obama, the black candidate raised by a poor single mother, being called an “elitist” because of his grace, equanimity, intellect, dismal bowling performance, and reluctance to completely inhale his Philly cheese-steak. This, along with his willingness to negotiate with enemies, we are told, should lead us to question whether he’s man enough to be commander in chief […] Barack Obama stands in stark contrast to the attitude of the Clinton campaign. His guiding political ethos has always been one of bridging but not overlooking divisions, while privileging dialogue, debate, and negotiation over conquest. This is not only a new politics. It is a new masculinity, one that is inclusive of those panhuman qualities previously disowned and projected onto women.

And isn’t that a version of political and civic leadership that could provide space for women’s participation and challenge traditional masculinity while also producing a politics that’s more respectful and just, decent?

May 7, 2008

More on heteronormative familial-economic arrangements

Posted in economics, gender roles, heteronormative, ideology, social justice, U.S. politics at 2:45 pm by LB

This post on income splitting at The Hand Mirror is a darn good read. It’s an analysis of income splitting, which is a “remedy” for the unfairness brought on by this scenario:

Family A, a family with two working adults each earning $40,000, pays less tax than family B, in which one adult earns $80,000 and the other adult stays at home to look after the kids. Each family has the same gross earnings, but the single earner’s larger income places him in a higher tax bracket. This is unfair, Dunne believes: where a parent (usually mum) has given up paid work for childcare, her family should not face a financial penalty.[…] Income splitting seems to recognise the value of women’s unpaid work, and the fact that it supports men to do their paid work. So what’s wrong with this picture?

The critique asserts:

Although families A and B earn the same, things are not equal between them. Family B spends only 40 hours a week in the workforce to make $60,000, whereas Family A spends 80 hours. The extra time available to family B makes a huge difference to its quality of life. Both Mum A and Mum B have domestic work to do, but Mum A begins hers after she knocks off from her paid job each day. Noticeably absent from Dunne’s plan are solo parent families. Solo mums bear lone responsibility for all the paid and unpaid work in their households, but have no one to split incomes with, so cannot receive any tax relief. Income splitting is less about recognising women’s unpaid work than about shoring up traditional nuclear families in the face of increasing solo parent, blended and gay families and whanau.

This is a great critique, as those who stand to benefit the most are those who replicate the ideal, gender-normative and heteronormative family.

(see my two previous posts on this topic).

May 1, 2008

A Humorous Critique of Voting One’s Identity

Posted in exnomination, gender, intersectionality, oppression, race and racism, U.S. politics at 8:26 pm by LB


A (humorous) reminder that women and black Americans (not to mention black women!) actually vote for who they think is the most qualified candidate– shocker, I know. And what a f*cking insult that the media persists in insinuating they don’t. And funny, no one appears to be asking white men voting for John McCain if they’re voting their gender or race. Oh that’s right, McCain gets to be an unmarked “candidate” while Senators Clinton and Obama are marked as sexed and racial ‘others.’

via feministing

(Cross-posted to The Reaction)

April 28, 2008

The Next Steps for Redressing Unequal Pay

Posted in economics, gender, oppression, patriarchy, social justice, U.S. politics at 9:58 am by LB

I
I don’t normally blog on equal pay. It is for sure not an area of expertise. I did a short post two weeks ago for Fair Pay Day, because I was so struck by the tangibility of the day in April where men’s and women’s wages would be equal, and how that day is so close to Tax Freedom Day. But it really isn’t an area I’m extremely knowledgeable about (as far as studies go), and I know that the notion of “equal pay” is often contested– studies often come to conflicting conclusions, people often don’t make their terms clear, and there are many different opinions as to who should get equal pay and what counts are equal pay.

These debates are not what this post is about. This is about the Fair Pay Act–the one that on the 23rd a motion to advance it was passed by a majority in the Senate, but didn’t get enough votes to have a debate and vote scheduled on the bill itself. It’s called the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and Suzanne Reissman has an excellent explanation about the history of the bill and what this bill is actually about–check it out here.

Regardless of whether you ‘believe’ that pay discrimination as a result of sexual identity exists or not, there is no reason not to support this bill–because the bill addresses the terms by which pay discrimination can be redressed–and if there is no pay discrimination, then the law won’t need to be utilized!

The next steps for advocating this bill is to contact your Senators. See the National Women’s Law Center for more information on pushing your Senator to get a debate and vote on the bill scheduled.

April 18, 2008

Fair Pay

Posted in economics, gender, sexism, U.S. politics at 10:37 pm by LB

Today, April 18th, is “Blog for Fair Pay” day, in honor of the fact that today, women will have finally caught up to what men earned income-wise in 2007. Yes, the gendered pay gap means women have to work almost 4 months more to earn what men do. And Angry Black Bitch reminds us it’s even worse for women of color. Designating a day for recognition and advocacy of this is an important tangible reminder of the effects of inequality and sanctioned discrimination.

It kind of reminds me of Tax Freedom Day, the day that the nations has earned enough income to pay our tax bill. Funny, though–(federal) Tax Freedom Day is April 23rd (although this varies by state, mine in New York isn’t until May). That tends to make people pissed–realizing they work 4 months just to pay their government taxes.

But women have to work an extra 4 months to equal what men are paid yearly, which is about the same amount of time “Americans” have to work to pay their tax bill. Thus, , from a conceptual point, the difference in men’s and women’s pay is about the same as the amount of taxes paid by the “average” American. Think about that for a second. Or several.

Then write in your support for the fair pay act, and encourage others to do the same.

cross-posted to The Reaction

April 16, 2008

What’s wrong with this article? Marriage and Taxes, part 2

Posted in economics, gender, gender roles, heteronormative, ideology, marriage, patriarchy, social justice, U.S. politics at 2:14 am by LB

Especially in light of my critique of ‘marriage’-centric social organization, check out this article from CNN.com:

Study: Single parents cost taxpayers $112 billion”:

Divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing cost U.S. taxpayers more than $112 billion a year, according to a study commissioned by four groups advocating more government action to bolster marriages.

hmm…what’s wrong with this so far? (hint: it’s something to do with the premise of the article)

Ok, I’ll tell you.

  1. It implies that divorcees and parents who are unmarried are not ‘taxpayers.’
  2. Thus, it positions those not divorced or single parents–married people, single people (aka not-yet married), and married parents–as the ‘ideal taxpayer-citizen’

And that’s just the first paragraph.

Next:

Sponsors say the study is the first of its kind and hope it will prompt lawmakers to invest more money in programs aimed at strengthening marriages.

Could it possibly be that our social and economic structures heavily favor married parenting, and that’s what needs to be investigated, rather than ‘strengthening marriage’??

Two experts not connected to the study said such programs are of dubious merit and suggested that other investments — notably job creation — would be more effective in aiding all types of needy families.

…which is good, especially since I heard on NPR recently (I can’t find the show reference! aah!) that divorce and income are correlated (and ya know, ‘the sanctity of marriage’ etc. is of utmost important to preserving ‘traditional’ –read: patriarchal capitalist –values).

There’s more:

Scafidi’s calculations were based on the assumption that households headed by a single female have relatively high poverty rates, leading to higher spending on welfare, health care, criminal justice and education for those raised in the disadvantaged homes.

Right, because there’s a natural connection between single mothering and poverty, apparently, so we need to fix the ‘single mothering’ rather than, say, the ‘feminization of poverty’ or the socio-economic structure that perpetuates single-parent (mother) poverty.

See, there’s two problems here with our socio-economic structure:

  1. The assumption of two parents present and sharing a home. The model used to be male breadwinner/female domestic servant. Now, women are ‘allowed’ to have economic independence but continue to bear the homemaking burden.
  2. Women are paid less money, plain and simple.

So in a single-parent family where that single parent is a woman, she’s doubly screwed economically.

At the end of the day, the article–along with the study and those who commissioned it–assumes the natural and neutral center of American life (ought) to be marriage and specifically, married-parenting. Further, they conclude that we should tell people how they should structure their networks of association in their life because it would cost less in government expenditures and because they are deviating from some sort of arbitrary ‘normal’. Sure marriage is the norm in American society; that doesn’t make it natural. It’s still an arbitrary primary structure of social relations.

Sure sounds like life, liberty, and all that jazz to me!

cross-posted to The Reaction

see my part 1 here

April 15, 2008

Thoughts on the Tyrrany of Marriage at Tax Time

Posted in economics, heteronormative, marriage, queer, social justice, U.S. politics at 8:50 am by LB

I’ve seen a few articles over the last few days about taxes and inequality for lesbian and gay couples, due to the inability to get married, as well as straight couples who aren’t married. Mostly, they are addressing the economic inequality faced by cohabitating queer couples who are legally unable to marry (in 49/50 states). Also, any tax allowances made for couples in civil unions at the state level don’t apply to federal taxation.

I thought I would take this opportunity, then, to give a mention to what many times is overlooked in the Andrew Sullivan version of same-sex marriage advocacy (see his Virtually Normal): that economic dependencies and living arrangements are not internal to intimate relationships. In other words, just because the majority of economic relationships are intimate ones as well does not mean they have to be, and does not mean they are necessarily correlated conceptually. The way our social, economic, and legal policies have shaped the meaning of intimate and economic life informs the way that we think about structuring life. Take away those institutional expectations and rewards, and new possibilities are opened up for organizing the fulfillment of a variety of needs– and perhaps in more productive ways.

In full disclosure, my Master’s thesis involves gender norms as they are produced in marriage and through the interconnection of marriage, economics, legal decisions, liberal political theory of the founders, and citizenship, so my thoughts are referring to a body of research that cannot in any way be meaningfully replicated here.

I simply pose a few questions to chew on:

  • Why do we assume intimate relationships must also involve economic dependencies and domesticity? Or rather, that if they don’t, they are less socially valuable, are less fundamental to society than those who do.
  • Why do we assume that the skills and qualities of an intimate couple are what makes the best or proper parents? This is especially relevant when oftentimes it is friendships, not intimate relationships, that end up being the life-long ones.
  • What is marriage a (presumed) life-long relationship, characterized by economic dependency/support, cohabitation, emotional reliance, sexual fulfillment, and potential parenting partnership? Why do we assume that one person should be responsible to fulfill all these needs? And that we should assign civic identities and rights based on the collapse of these relationships into one?
  • In what ways does the emphasis on marriage and coupling, especially in the same-sex marriage rights movement, neglect and further marginalize those who espouse other arrangements than the life relationships collapsed into one?
  • Does the emphasis on same-sex marriage in LGBTQ advocacy render even more invisible and produce second-class citizens of queer folks who do not replicate heterosexual relationship norms of marriage/domestic partnerships?
  • Finally, what is the function of marriage as a civic identity?

This last one is actually the question my thesis addresses, and it is a complex one. But thinking about it, and the other questions I pose, should make us question why our society rewards structuring both “private” and “public” spheres of life in terms of marriage and coupling and their affiliated expectations.

Sure, same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples. That’s not where my argument is centered. I’m just not convinced that so many rights should be allocated based on intimate coupling, and the assumptions that go along with it (see bullet #3). I personally advocate that civic identity should not be premised on intimate relationships or on the way one structures one’s relational life. I see a value in affording certain benefits for those who are in economic dependencies, but that those dependencies should be unrelated to intimate life.

Further, we can begin to think about the other possibilities for living than the only one provided to us when we shake the assumption that marital coupling is and should be the center of social organization. Hell, it may even allow us to think of ways to resist consumerism, financial strains, the emotional stresses of work-family balances. Sustainable living and embracing the Slow Movement become more practical and plausible ways to live. The dirty commie idea of communal living or intentional communities as a shared approach to solving certain daily needs can be more commonplace. But this is a threat to aggressive capitalism by solving problems and meeting needs outside of the capitalist marketplace and reducing consumption. This too, of course, threatens the tax base by creating fewer discreet households by redefining ‘household’. Shaking the emphasis on the individualistic and atomistic ideal of marriage and coupling as the ultimate conflation of relationship needs can indeed challenge ‘rugged individualism’ that has harmed values of community and shared responsibility. Indeed, for me, challenging the place of marriage as the civic identity par excellance is deeply politically progressive.

Thus, I argue that aggressively advocating (same-sex) marriage (or alternatively offering rights to “marriage like” relationships) tends to imply that the marriage-based structure of rights and privileges is just fine “as is” (and I’m not even going to broach the gender normativity still (re)produced in marriage). Instead, I’d like to advocate for different solutions, beyond marriage.

recommended reading: Michael Warner’s Trouble With Normal (on my amazon recommendations)

cross-posted to The Reaction

see my part 2 here

January 14, 2008

Sicko and the Guerilla Girls

Posted in social justice, U.S. politics at 3:40 am by LB

I ran across this Guerilla Girls poster, and I was reminded how the social welfare policies in the U.S. run counter to our rhetoric regarding POW’s/”enemy combatants”…we defend ourselves as humane because we “take good care of” our “foreign” prisoners, providing them with food, shelter, and health care (as is so poignantly addressed in Michael Moore’s recent Sicko), but how humane can we really be when we don’t extend those same provisions to our own citizens? Some thoughts…


image credit: Guerilla Girls

From the post title you may think this is going to be a rant on advocating “national” or “government-run” heathcare for the U.S.: it’s not. Discussions about private vs. government care tend to frustrate me to no end because arguments are often caught up in the specifics. I am not by any means an expert in Health Management. What I am interested in is social justice. And one scene from Sicko (below) and the Guerilla Girls poster I recently saw (above) both discuss social issues in terms of social justice, not policy specifics. Propose a policy, and I’ll form an opinion on it and ask for yours. But please, don’t make arguments “for” or “against” specifics of non-existent policies when we need to come to an understand about the concept at hand.

Namely, there is a problem in the U.S. with:

a) the incredible number of uninsured (and mostly middle-class!) people;

b) the denial of health services in order to maximize profit;

c) U.S. officials are quick to defend the treatment of prisoners, etc. (and rightly so, with all the scandal over torture and unjust treatment-they outta be defensive right about now!), yet what does it mean when the treatment they claim they are not giving to prisoners is what we inflict on our own citizens in the name of “free enterprise”!

What does it mean when we give more rights to “life” to criminals than we do our citizens? Whether we’re talking about health care, food, or shelter…

So, I don’t know if we should have “government-run” health care. But I’ll say this: health care, in the U.S., as a for-profit system, has screwed the American public royally to the benefit of shareholders and campaign warchests-typically wealthier people who couldn’t give more of a damn. Heath care should be a right of citizenship-not of employment, not of class, and not of marriage.

And we need to start talking to each other in this fashion when we talk about social welfare of any kind-not in terms of how it’s abused and therefore inherently a bad idea. We need to start agreeing on the problems, and committing to their solutions, instead of denying the problems based on inadequate solutions.

(shameless plug for Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Democratic nominee hopeful who advocates universal health care. Oh, and did I mention he doesn’t accept lobbyists’ money?)

OK, so check this trailer from Michael Moore’s Sicko, since I couldn’t get the movie clip to work (the scene that was so moving for me was the one where he determined that the only place in America where you are guaranteed quality health care is….Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and took the 9/11 volunteers who weren’t getting their medical needs me to Guantanamo Bay, to ask for the same care the “terrorist” detainees were getting. Made. me. cry.)