Health Care is No Joke

Nothing gets my pantyhose in a bunch more than patriarchy.  You know, that unwritten series of social laws that places women in positions subservient to those of men.  I can list a million examples of it, but all you need do is look at the recent attacks on women’s health care in the United States to get the gist.  We are witness to the desperate screams of a generation that is white, privileged, and male clinging to control with every last fiber of their collective beings.  Contemptible.

My memory of real patriarchal condescension was a situation where someone close to me had a hysterectomy.  In addition to the hysterectomy (the result of severe prolapse), the surgery would be accompanied by an oophorectomy to “reduce the risk” of ovarian cancer.  Except that there was no history of ovarian cancer and the ovaries were healthy.  I recall pleading with her to get a second opinion.  And, I urged, check to see if this guy is a board certified surgeon.

The idea that otherwise healthy ovaries would just be yanked out appalled me.  I recall thinking that it might be a good idea to get our stomachs removed to avoid stomach cancer.  Maybe the lungs removed to avoid lung cancer.  And, damn, might as well get our brains scooped out, too, what with the risk of brain cancer and all.

To her credit, she checked and asked questions.  But the answers were abysmal.  First, he explained that he was board qualified.  Great, Einstein, you studied for the test; you didn’t take and pass it.  Or maybe you took it and didn’t pass it.  (Apparently, he didn’t elaborate.)

Then the real kicker: he explained to her that if her husband removed his testicles, it would not make him less of a man.  Ergo, if she removed her ovaries it would not make her less of a woman.*  Well, that wasn’t the question, douchebag, was it?  But, sure, let’s have that fight, shall we?

Honestly, I’d like to have seen this guy yank out his healthy testes to avoid the risk of testicular cancer. Or maybe remove a healthy and intact prostate so that he would avoid prostate cancer.  As Gloria Steinem mused some years ago, if men had periods there would be a National Institute for Dysmenorrhea. And it’s not far from reality: institutions that are now fighting birth control provisions in health care haven’t protested about the costs for Cialis and matching bathtubs.  Lost your step, guys?  Maybe you’ve got Low-T.  We’ll pay for that too.  And, if necessary, we’ll pay for the prosthesis to lift that limp dick too.  Society must, at all costs, ensure that every man can get an erection and not lose his desire for sexual activity.  After all, erect penises made Western Civilization great [enter the madness of Camille Paglia].

But women?  Have some cells that look suspicious?  Hack off those boobs.  Having a hysterectomy but your ovaries are healthy?  Yank ‘em out!  You’re not having kids; you don’t need ‘em!  After all, you’re still a woman if you don’t have your breasts or ovaries. Oh, and here’s some Valium for the stress of it all.  Any forced menopause?  We’ve got more drugs for that too.

Cripes, it makes my head spin.  For you who watch Mad Men,  you will recall the patriarchal control exhibited by Don Draper when his wife, Betty, went to the psychiatrist .  Or marvel at the judgmental attitude of the gynecologist who examined Peggy—he’d take away her birth control pills if he thought she were too promiscuous.  That wasn’t all that long ago and some of those people—and those they trained—are still practicing.  Arrrgh!  The patent arrogance of it all!

Plenty of people fight patriarchy, and one way for women to do so is by taking charge of their health care.  It’s a precarious balance: you are seeking medical advice from an expert, yet you are their client.  If they are not providing service in which you are confident, you can fire them and go elsewhere.

Well, that is what I can do, but what about women with little or no access to health care?  What about individuals, who have limited access and lack the opportunity to get second opinions, compare resources, or are just generally without a network of friends who are intellectually curious and not reactive?  What if you’re stuck in Bumfuck, Nowhere and you’ve got a doctor who doesn’t know her/her ass from a hole in the ground?

Health care is no joke.  And every man, woman, and child should have complete and total access to it.  To shave off access to health care because of political predilections is madness.  So many health care plans would not even pay for contraception, but paid for Viagra as soon as that was marketed to the public—with the blessing of conservative groups, of course.

The present folly over the Affordable Care Act’s “war on religion” is as equally baseless.  The religious institutions now squawking about denial of their rights have provided access to a broad swath of women’s needs as a result of federal employment laws for decades.   Present “concerns” take the focus away from women and place it on some politically manufactured talking point designed for short-term win, not real long-term interest.

Patriarchy has fueled heath care costs in this country by essentially charging women higher rates for health care policies.  Women pay, on average, 150% more than men for their health insurance.  With the Affordable Care Act that will come to an end in 2014.  Indeed, just recently the Affordable Care Act guaranteed women’s access to preventive care, birth control, and other health services.


Any individual—especially any woman—who opposes reforms that overwhelmingly increase women’s access to health care is just downright senseless.  Don’t protest with your manufactured social beliefs to decrease or eliminate women’s access to health care.

Rather, sit back and drink a nice big cup of shut the fuck up.

Because with your failed logic, you might as well have your brain scooped out due to the cancer  that festers in it.   You know, just to be on the safe side so that the half-knowledge and denseness doesn’t spread.


*She did not seek out a second opinion, decided to have the surgery, and is healthy today.

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4 Responses to Health Care is No Joke

  1. The War on Women is alive and well in the Breast Cancer Cult(ure). Using fear of cancer (death) to sell pink ribbons to girls who HATED pink when we were growing-up …

    • Scorchy says:

      I must say, I love the color pink. You wear pink and it takes ten years off you! ; )

      But, yes, I agree that insofar that it raises awareness and encourages women to take care of their boobies, I don’t have a particular aversion to something that can serve as a reminder. But it feminizes the disease, moves it from the center of federally financed scientific research and places into the hands of private foundations that award grants and studies as it meets that particular foundation’s criteria (enter the Planned Parenthood debacle). Where are all of these people going to go once a cure is found? Yeah, I know. You can wax philosophical about cures, but with breast cancer being a multi-buillion dollar industry, I’m thinking it isn’t happening anytime soon. In reading various blogs I see lots of women who sincerely worked hard to overcome the disease, grew close to their healthcare providers, nurses, etc, posing in pink cowboy hats, and pink shoes, and pink nails, and pink, pink, pink. I’m all for celebrating an individual victory, but this is fucking cancer. It’s not a goddamned fashion show. Stop feminizing this disease. It’s as deadly as pancreatic, colon, lung, and a million other cancers. Get angry, dammit. It’s not an event.

  2. Megan says:

    YES. There seems to be such a complex set of factors coming into play when in the health care system today. That fine line between respecting knowledge while pushing to understand and have some agency, and understanding the difference between knowledge, authority, and power. Throw in penises, and well, complications galore!

    How are we raised–were we taught to question well? At all? Question men in authority? Do we have access to the information that allows us to do that? As you say, do we have local access to quality medical care? I heard something on NPR a few months ago about a mom who was teaching her kid how to explain what was going on, and, critically, how to ask questions at a doctor’s office. It’s such a basic thing, but it kind of blew me away.

    I recently “fired” my primary care physician, in the middle of an ongoing medical situation, partly due to a conversation with a female medical professional who gave me a really helpful affirmation that I wasn’t out of line. I’m glad I talked to her, but a little disappointed in how helpful that little nudge was. Shouldn’t need it!

  3. Mila says:

    You have my respect, and admiration. Awesome post!

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