As expected, the House voted again today—for the 40th time—to repeal Obamacare, this time through IRS guidelines. Every GOP representative present for the vote supported the erasure of the nation’s health care act as did four Democrats. Hardest hit if Obamacare disappears would be women. This problem is not unique with just the GOP wish to eradicate affordable health insurance. The GOP consistently works to reduce Social Security and Medicare, eliminate food stamps and Medicaid, decimate health clinics for women, and refuse to support the ERA, fair pay, and increase of the minimum wage.
A Texas Republican, State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, even wants to charge State Sen. Wendy Davis for her filibuster against an egregious anti-abortion bill. He claims that her actions cost the state $2.4 million because legislature was forced to go into another special session to pass the transportation measure, supposedly the purpose of the first session. The transportation could have passed in the first session if the GOP lawmakers had not been so intent on criminalizing abortions after 20 weeks and shutting down 90 percent of the women’s clinics providing abortions in the state.
In addition to making life far more dangerous for poor women who will be over 600 miles away from a clinic, the GOP will cost the state more money by health problems resulting from dangerous abortion alternatives and judicial expenses when the state is sued for its unconstitutional legislation. Perhaps the state could charge self-identified “fiscal conservatives” such as Capriglione for those costs.
My question to Capriglione: Would you dream of threatening to charge a male legislator for doing his job an elected official?
With the addition of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to Congress, Capitol Hill has been flexing its patriarchal attitudes. From conservative newspaper The Hill comes an article that begins “Elizabeth Warren Ruffling Feathers.” No matter how much male legislators stir the pot, no one accuses them of “ruffling feathers.” After a difference of opinion between her and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), another senator said, “Elizabeth came out very strong against Manchin.” The person used Warren’s first name, a common approach toward women, as compared to Manchin’s last name. Manchin responded, “I love her,” again a patronizing approach.
Beyond perpetrating annoying attitudes toward women, discrimination loses women jobs and money. An example comes from Kim O’Grady, an Australian, who received only rejections while searching for job despite an excellent resume. The simple act of putting “Mr.” before his name brought the jobs rolling in. After he reported his experiences on Tumblr, he said that no one responded “that my story is only relevant to my local experience as an Australian. His action brings to mind the large number of women who use initials or male pseudonyms in order to sell their books. J.D. Rowling’s first publisher asked her to use her initials rather than her name, Joanne.
Women can legally be fired for their appearance, something that rarely happens to men. Shea Allen, a former ABC reporter in Huntsville (AL), was fired for not wearing a bra. No one knew until she wrote about it on her blog, but she was terminated without cause.
Ordered to not engage with her audience, stand-up comedian Christina Walkinshaw put up with hecklers shouting, “Show us your tits, show us your bush.” After the show, she brought up the incident with the woman running the show and then worked the rest of the weekend. The next week she was banned from the club for the “incident.”
Jennifer Finley was fired by a waxing center because she refused to have another employee give her a Brazilian wax. Teri James was fired by San Diego Christian College for have premarital sex, considered “immoral behavior” in the handbook. After she was fired, the school offered a job to her fiancé, now her husband. She has filed a lawsuit.
James should not expect fairness from going to court as demonstrated by the Iowa Supreme Court. Melissa Nelson was fired because her employer, a dentist, was attracted to her and his wife didn’t like it. Dr. James Knight called Nelson his best assistant, but he had found her “irresistible” for the ten years that he employed her. When the judges, all men, made its first ruling in Knight’s favor, media attention was so negative that they decided to reconsider their decision.
They reissued the same conclusion with a twist. The judges determined that the law would be violated if a woman were fired because of “gender-specific characteristics” such as appearance. Yet firing a woman for a man’s reaction to these “characteristics” is legal. It wasn’t her appearance that caused her firing; it was Knight’s lust and the threat to his marriage. The judges ignored the fact that Nelson was not the threat to the marriage: Knight was. The court overlooked the fact that Nelson was fired because she was a woman.
For some females, the lesson of inequity comes early. A private school outside Atlanta told 12-year-old Madison Baxter that she could not try out for the seventh-grade football team because her male teammates were beginning to have “impure thoughts” about her. She was a started on the sixth-grade team and had played football since second grade. A Facebook page is pushing the school to “Let Her Play.”
Judges also used appearance to rule against women in Atlantic City (NJ). At the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, cocktail waitresses, called “Borgata Babes,” are weighed when they are hired and then re-weighed periodically. If they gain more than 7 percent of the original weight, they can be suspended until they lose the weight. Male servers have no such requirement. When 22 of the “babes” sued, New Jersey judge Nelson Johnson ruled against them because they are “sex objects.”
Only one state, Michigan, bans discrimination based on weight and height. Women in other states are not as fortunate. A federal suit filed by three women against their former employer, Merrill Lynch, was thrown out. The women were forced to attend female-only seminars on how to dress, act “perky,” and read a book called Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics From a Woman at the Top before attending a mandatory lecture by the book’s author. The book, written by a woman, tells other women to use the idea of “great sex” for workplace interactions and curry favor with male coworkers by reinforcing “his hunk status,” telling him “I love you,” and to using comments like “Wow, you look great. Been working out?” According to the book, the last line is to be used for any male coworker who is not “morbidly obese.” The women have now refilled in state court.
A transman, self-identifying as a “fat man,” agreed with society’s prejudice against fat women. Michael Young writes about how he rapidly received “male privilege” as soon as he transitioned.
“As soon as I started ‘passing’, I found I was treated with a respect that wasn’t often given to me as a woman. My personal space and boundaries were no longer violated, I was no longer talked down to, and people suddenly respected my right to privacy and my right to be left alone. I was no longer treated as if I simply existed for men’s pleasure.”
He agreed that there were a few negative stereotypes regarding “a fat man” but not the way that “fat women are disproportionately targeted in Western society … subjected to public humiliation and discrimination every day, simply because of their bodies.” As a fat woman, he experienced “a poisonous, malignant contempt.”
The worst thing about this discrimination against women is that it’s become so insidious that most of the time we don’t notice it. People like to think that we’re in a post-sexist world, but we still live in culture that requires women’s subservience to men, careful attention to appearance, and possible loss of jobs, money, and even lives because of our gender. We live in a culture in which judges can, with impunity, call women “a sex object.”