There are a lot of reasons why women may be participating in today’s Day Without a Woman protest. No one expects all women everywhere to walk into work tomorrow with raises and promotions, or for Hillary Clinton to be able to walk into the Oval Office and kick everybody out. And yet that kind of end-goal-oriented mentality tends to come out in full force from critics looking to belittle these sorts of efforts.
This sort of mass one-day strike can be about a lot of things. It can be about visibility, about reminding the country that women play a large role in both the workforce and the consumer market, and that we need to be respected as such. That individual success stories do not amount to real equality.
And here’s just one of the many reasons why women are striking: That new health care plan is atrocious.
Have you read it? It’s horrible for pretty much everyone. (Unless, of course, you’re an insurance company that pays your CEO more than $500,000 a year. In that case, you definitely love this bill.) Millions are predicted to lose their insurance under the new plan, and low-income Americans, the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, and, for whatever reason, lottery winners are extremely at risk.
But women catch a special brunt of its nastiness. To start, Planned Parenthood and any other organization that “provides for abortions” will lose its Medicaid funding. That’s what they mean when they talk about “defunding” Planned Parenthood. And now they’re doing it. Or trying, at least. Not only that, but private insurers will be extremely unlikely to cover abortion due to the plan’s ban on tax credits funding it, and plans that do cover it will likely be rare and expensive.
Also, did you know that prior to the Affordable Care Act, women paid more than men for healthcare? According to one study, we paid a billion dollars more a year. The ACA counted that as discrimination, but now, Trump’s new health secretary, Tom Price, wants to do away with the rate-setting reforms. When asked if he thought men and women should pay the same premiums, he responded that that should probably just be left up to the states—except that if the states were handling this issue properly, it wouldn’t have had to have been reformed.
If women can’t afford health insurance, that’s dangerous or deadly for the women, but it’s also expensive (and, thus, potentially dangerous) for everyone else, since when more women move over to public programs, everyone ends up paying more. The GOP plan is also set to remove minimum coverage requirements under the guise of “choice”—so that people who don’t personally need certain procedures don’t pay for other people to get them. The problem is that’s how insurance works, and it will continue to work that way for some things—but not maternity care, which insurance providers will no longer be required to cover, thus driving up the cost and hurting women.
Despite Ivanka Trump selling us hard on her dad in the primaries by talking about his love of women and mothers, and how important maternity leave is for women’s health, Donald Trump’s proposal is absurd. Not only does the plan–which is separate from the ACA replacement bill but representative of the GOP’s views of women–not cover paternal leave for fathers, it only covers leave for married birth mothers. And even then, it’s only six weeks at partial pay, meaning low-income families would have a hard time taking advantage of it.
The GOP views womanhood as something to be ignored, or at best, confined to a very narrow definition. (See that draconian, antiquated “married birth mothers” line again.) They also see it as something to be taxed for any way in which it differs from what they see as the default for personhood: maleness. Women are still “othered,” we’re still underrepresented in healthcare research, and we’re still financially punished for things as basic to our humanity as pregnancy and menstruation.
That’s (one of many reasons) why we strike.
(image via Shutterstock)
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