Sunday, May 07, 2017


I have had a bit of a rough week. Tuesday morning my legs were sore and by evening I knew I was coming down with something. Wednesday and Thursday I drank lots of tea and took Tylenol and tried to ignore the fact that I wasn't getting better, but by Friday my throat was on fire, my head was throbbing and I told Stuart to get the kids to school so I could go to urgent care. An hour later, I had a bottle full of penicillin, a diagnosis of strep, and an afternoon of work to power through.

I had to work all weekend, too. It sucked, but thanks to modern medicine I got through it ok. It's the end of the semester, so I just don't have a choice. (I've also got a bit of an itchy rash behind my right knee but I'm telling myself it was there before I started the antibiotics so I'm not worried about it.)

We have pretty good health insurance thanks to my husband's employer coverage. This is not because either one of us is morally superior or really that much smarter than the average American. We are just lucky that one of us can make a steady living in an industry that provides benefits to its workers. That that person in the family is not me makes me feel a bit guilty, but also lucky. Nothing more. Once I finally decided to go to the doctor Friday morning, I didn't really have to think about it. There was the minor inconvenience of Stuart getting the kids to school instead of leaving early for work, but he was very understanding about that. My point is, we didn't have to consider the cost of going to the doctor, or the prescription I was likely to get because the cost was almost completely covered by insurance. It's not my fault I got strep. It's going around, apparently. Strep happens. But if I hadn't gone to the doctor on Friday, where would I be now? In bed miserable, in the hospital, passing my germs freely to everyone else?

I am a freelancer in the performing arts, so if I were on my own in the health insurance market, I would be sweating bullets right about now wondering what's going to happen with the latest version of Trumpcare passed by the House of Reps. The bill Paul Ryan pushed through is unusually cruel, granting huge tax cuts to the very wealthy at the expense of people who need assistance the most. Cutting Medicaid expansion by $880 billion while granting states the ability to waive essential requirements from the ACA (aka Obamacare) for things like life time spending caps, holding costs to cover people with pre-existing conditions (including mental illness, addiction treatment, diabetes, cancer, domestic violence, asthma, auto-immune disorder - who among us doesn't have someone near and dear who qualifies with one of these?), and basic healthcare like prenatal care and preventative medicine - - all this seems like completely abandoning common sense.

Side note: a lot of preexisting conditions are much more likely to pertain to women, like pregnancy (duh) and surviving domestic abuse and sexual assault and having mental illness, so it's exceptionally ironic that this bill was passed by a bunch of white men.

I won't belabor this point because a LOT has been written about the latest version of the AHCA (read good analysis of it here (Vox) and here (Slate) and here (NYT) plus various podcasts from the same news sources), so I'll just close by saying this: in a country with as much wealth as we have, it is literally sick and immoral to treat quality, affordable healthcare as though it is a luxury that only a few deserve, rather than a right we all should have.

Shame on you, Paul Ryan. Your soul is horrid and rotten. I don't know how you sleep at night.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

on raising young feminists

Feminism is so popular these days. Some fear it has become diluted and used as a marketing tactic to the point of losing its meaning (#femvertising, anyone?).

The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the recent Girl Power movement. "Girl Power, girls on the run!" she exclaimed, "...we're going to end up raising a generation of little bitches." She went on to describe her experience working with some school kids, in which a couple of girls were bossing some boys around and they meekly obeyed. This was, apparently, evidence that the next generation of men is doomed to be compliant to the dominating bitches who have had a little too much girl power for their own good.

Obviously, I take issue with this view. For one thing, my own daughter is in Girls On the Run and is having an excellent experience. It has not turned her into a bossy, dominating know-it-all. Instead, she's having a fantastic time running with her friends and we'll all be doing a 5K together next month.  For another, one should never take a single experience and use it to generalize all of society. (I believe this is called anecdotal evidence.) Sometimes girls are bossy and dominating. Sometimes they are not. I don't think we can blame modern feminism for immaturity in a third grade class.

Also, this friend of mine has several grown children, some of them married (and even divorced) already, and I find that more often than not, the people who bemoan the kids of today are already done raising their own and thus consider themselves exempt from blame for whatever is going wrong with the current generation. It's exasperating, especially for someone like me who is at this very moment raising kids and trying to do it right. I remember being a teenager and hearing how my generation was doomed. It was insulting.

She did have a point about one thing, though. We shouldn't celebrate "girl power" for its own sake. We need to think about what that means. I once saw a youtube video of a 10yo girl singing Roar by Katy Perry, and the storyline of her video was of herself literally beating up a whole bunch of boys in a karate competition. She sang well, but it missed the point. Punching the lights out of the men in your life might seem satisfying in a music video, but it isn't the same as advocating for equal pay and rights and learning to advocate for yourself. We can't pull ourselves up by demeaning men and boys. We need them on board with us.

I've got a son and a daughter and I'm raising them both to be feminists. It's important for them both to understand why these issues are important for all of us.