Instead of trying to string sense out of the last few days – all Brexit everything, punctuated by Labour resignations trickling in like the slow, damp, farting release of breath from a let-down balloon – here’s a stupid, childish, excellent thing.
It’s been so long since I’ve posted on here I had to reset the password. Nevertheless, some thoughts.
It’s not inherently racist to want Brexit. Of course there are arguments beyond ‘we don’t like immigrants’. However, I am so certain that if we do vote out, it will become a mandate for the people leading the leave campaign to swing British politics further to the right and clamp down even more on immigration.
[Content note: ableism, rape]
It seems everyone is losing faith in politicians these days, and you can see why when it seems every other week one of them is making headlines for having said something horrendously offensive. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get tired of public figures apologising for ill-chosen words, when usually the words they’ve chosen are only part of the problem.
Two days, two scandals. Both about words.
[This is an unusually self-indulgent blog post in the form of a letter that David Cameron will never read, in response to his PM’s speech at Tory Party Conference – specifically, what he had to say about unemployment among the under-25s. Call it catharsis. Full speech here.]
Dear David Cameron,
It was difficult to listen to your speech today without taking it personally.
You say yourself that there are still over a million young people not in education, employment, or training. To all intents and purposes, I’m one of them.
Politicians seem to be making a habit of rape apology these days – yesterday it was Todd Akin across the pond saying that ‘legitimate rape’ doesn’t cause pregnancy, and today it’s our own George Galloway weighing in on the Julian Assange situation.
I was just going to talk about Galloway’s comments about rape, but having watched the full video I want to also discuss how the allegations are being discussed as a political issue.
I barely knew that such a thing was possible, but Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin has given Americans another reason not to vote Republican in the upcoming election by claiming that women cannot get pregnant as a result of ‘legitimate rape’.
Since my last post contained a disproportionate amount of anger, even for me – and I have been accused of having columnist’s rage – it’s nice to focus on something positive for today’s blog: Obamacare 1, patriarchy 0.
Obamacare regulations giving women access to greater healthcare and general wellbeing-related services came into effect yesterday. Under the Affordable Care Act, access to contraception and a number of other services will be included in medical insurance provisions without co-pays – ie. without having to contribute to the cost.
Under the new regulations, women will gain:
Annual well-woman visits*
Screening for gestational diabetes
Testing for HPV (human papilloma-virus)
Counselling for sexually transmitted infections
Counselling and screening for HIV
Contraceptive methods and counselling
Breastfeeding support, supplies and counselling
Screening and counselling for domestic and interpersonal violence
This is a particularly important step forward for American healthcare because:
The fact that such a huge number of women delay treatment or forgo basic necessities in order to pay for treatment shows just how urgent these new provisions are. It seems ludicrous to me that this should be a problem in a developed nation, and the fact that women have access to free contraception in the UK is one of the reasons I love the NHS. As someone who is often critical of the American healthcare system, I had been aware that this was a major problem even before seeing the helpful infographic above (provided by the Center for American Progress), but even so, the numbers are staggering.
I believe that universal healthcare should be a basic human right. This means free access to medical help, regardless of wealth, class or social status. Since women make up a hefty proportion of the population, it’s pretty vital to include women in this. Screening for conditions such as HIV, HPV and gestational diabetes means that conditions can be caught before the situation is desperate, allowing treatment to be administered in order to either save lives or dramatically improve someone’s standard of living. The changes, of course, not only affect women, but will have a knock-on effect on wider society.
This is not simply a question of women’s right to health. It has deeper consequences – when women are healthy and in control of their reproduction, they have more freedom and greater control over their lives. Family planning is now a key element in several NGOs’ poverty reduction strategies in developing countries, and could potentially have similar same economic benefits in the US.
The American healthcare system may still have a long way to go – and yes, I am aware that even the NHS also has its flaws – but this is a significant victory for women and American society in general. It is also a sign that the power of the religious right in US politics, which aims to curtail women’s rights and acts as a threat to secular decision-making – is diminishing. Because of this, the reforms highlight just how crucial the presidential election will be later this year:
These statistics are worrying, and raise questions about what would happen to American healthcare should Mitt Romney win the election in November – though this may be one of the policies which prevents them from gaining power. It might just be possible that the ‘Republican war on women‘ – which includes attacks on Planned Parenthood, the proposal of extreme anti-abortion laws as well as opposition to providing free contraception – has damaged their campaign sufficiently to prevent that from ever happening. One can only hope.
*whatever that means