Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hobby Lobby

I'm sure I will be either preaching to the choir or ruffling feathers, because there's no real common ground in this case. Either you get the possible implications of the Supreme Court's ruling -- which Congress, in theory, can repeal -- in the Hobby Lobby case, or you don't. Sure, nobody really knows the scope of the decision right now, but the decision itself and what it means for female employees who work for something close to minimum wage at Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood is clear. And this decision doesn't just affect women; it affects their husbands, partners and family. While some may argue that it's "only" four forms of contraception that are no longer available to these women while other forms still are available, the problem is with the ruling itself. It basically comes down to the Supreme Court ruling against a regulation adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services in favor of a corporation.

Why is Hobby Lobby all for helping increase the number of four-hour erections in the world but not for helping what might happen as a result of all those erections, you might ask. I don't have the answer.
Old man sex

To those of you who suggest employees who are unhappy with the ruling simply quit and jump into a new job, maybe you have forgotten how difficult it is in certain areas to take the time, make the effort and put your life on hold while you look for a job with no income rolling in while you do so. Unless you have someone supporting you financially (wouldn't that be nice), this isn't a realistic option for people supporting a family by working for a large company while earning meager wages and maybe even living pay check to pay check.

What upsets many people is how the Supreme Court interpreted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is supposed to address a “person’s” exercise of religion. I guess Hobby Lobby is somehow seen as a person in this particular case, a person who can inflict his religious rights on his employees. Corporations having certain rights isn't always a bad thing, but in this case, it means that female employees, who may follow different religions than those of the Hobby Lobby shareholders, will no longer be able to get insurance coverage (even though it's required by law under the Affordable Care Act and was offered previously without any fuss) for certain types of birth control. Before anyone complains that it's no big deal and further implications aside, one of the biggest issues I see is that these types of birth control options are not just used for preventing babies.

There are some questions about whether or not Hobby Lobby knew it previously covered the very birth control options it now claims to be so adamantly against, but we can either assume the company suddenly and randomly had an AHA moment and decided to look at the list of what's covered, or, more probably, this is a big FUCK YOU Obamacare. Let me guess ...

While women can seek additional healthcare coverage outside of the workplace, there's no doubt that Hobby Lobby is not treating its employees equally. But this isn't entirely a feminist issue. I get that nobody has the right to force anyone to provide a product or service that he or she doesn't want to, but this is a for-profit corporation, not a private, non-profit company that could go to court in defense of the religion of its MEMBERS. Does that make a difference? Um, yes. Do you get it now?

One of the more ridiculous claims this case has brought out was demonstrated in a comment I saw on an article about Hobby Lobby. It suggested that it's really poor men who don't have equality. I would take this claim seriously if it had anything whatsoever to do with actual health (not merely convenience), or if it were legitimate in any way. I might even consider taking it seriously if the comment on the article I read related to the actual article. Since none of these were the case, all the claim did was make me wonder why the world is so very fucked up. Lately I have a low tolerance for bullshit, so I have cut out a lot of noise in my life by removing myself from situations in which others act like assholes. People can consider themselves so important that the bigger picture is lost.

I will address the absurd claim here, though, because I have spent a great deal of time reading about and thinking about this case and its implications.

First, some may remember that I was recently diagnosed with endometriosis. Given this, the statements following may be biased. An IUD was the ONLY option for me. Without it, I was bleeding for months at a time, sometimes going through one pad an hour. That's a lot of blood loss. I simply did not respond to other forms of contraception, and the side effects were too extreme for my body.

With that out of the way, I will go on to say that I'm one who usually does a good job of putting myself in other people's shoes and have great empathy for those suffering physically or emotionally. Having made an attempt and thought about suicide a lot in my life and having a female family member follow through and end her life makes me extra aware when it comes to emotional pain, so when a person implied that my "dismissive behavior" in a comment on an article on the internet that I posted is the stuff that could lead a person to do something drastic, I have a hard time accepting that anyone who would jump into the fray could be that sensitive. My advice to anyone who would claim such a thing is to not go around biting without expecting some barking in return, little doggy.

You been goofin' with the beez??

Sure, I will address this idea that men have it terribly bad because they are limited to only two options of contraception. Why not? Actually, the whole concept is questionable, because if you're in a relationship, you generally make these kinds of decisions with your partner, not alone. If you're randomly fucking people, then I'd be surprised if you didn't want to wear a condom. But suppose that's your thing, and you would rather not wear a condom with a stranger and risk getting something. That's your choice. I may not condone it, but it's your right to do what you want. What would be better is to realize that having sex is something that should be done with some forethought. You discuss things with your partner and go from there. That means you suddenly have more options, no?

The biggest problem with this kind of poor me thinking is assuming that the treatment women receive is some kind of extravagant privilege. It's not accurate to assume that women are given a variety because of some strange conspiracy to have as many contraceptive options as possible available for women while limiting men's options. It's more that birth control makes more sense for women when you can control hormonal levels, ovulation and other factors that lead to pregnancy.

But the bigger issue is still that contraception for women isn't always about preventing children. In many cases, mine included, it's about treating medical conditions such as dismenorrhea, amenorrhea, painful periods and cycles, endometroisis, and severe acne with risks of infection, to name a few.

The term equal rights doesn't actually mean that everyone ends up with exactly the same thing. That would be impossible, because the physiology of men and women is different. It means we have the same social, political and economic opportunities. How that plays out isn't always exactly the same for each individual.

It's complicated, no doubt, and both sides are very passionate about their beliefs surrounding the decision. All I have to add is that it's important to look at all sides of this emotion-provoking coin. People who are passionate can be very convincing, but it doesn't mean what they say is accurate.