I am a Facebook user because, from time to time, it gives me valuable information ( not just pretty pictures of cats and people saying which cafe they are in!).
This morning I read two interesting entries, both from the U.S.A., which I thought were both relevant and scary. I thought that they deserve reprinting without any further commentary by me.
1. letter from America.
“I wish one thing for the British people in this upcoming election, I don’t care whether you consider yourself conservative, labour, yellow, blue, rich, poor, young, old, for or against the variety of political slogans thrown around. I wish every person eligible to vote, to vote for the NHS. Whatever that takes, whatever other policies you have to grey line on or even disagree with. Vote for the NHS. I tell you from experience that the negotiations that have already happened with United Health and other private bodies are against your best interests. Once the middle men of a fractured health, insurance driven system get in, you will never get them out. Few people are aware in England of how much it hurts to hear your child in pain and instead of whipping them up in your arms and taking them to the nearest hospital, you are on the phone asking a stranger if your policy will cover it. Being admitted to hospital and an over night stay with a single scan costing just over $4,000… and the quote for the treatment you need being 16,000 – that’s not including anesthesiologist fees or any complications arising. Who do you know right now has an extra $400 per person a month for insurance fees (that’s low, many pay much more) who then dictate what you can and can’t treat and the treatment for it. Who benefit if you die rather than fight, who call new treatments, for cancer especially, ‘experimental’ and refuse to pay. I have a friend who would not be here right now if it wasn’t for a go fund me page, because his insurance didn’t deem him fit for the heart surgery he needed, despite the surgeon saying he was. Please , everyone, fight for your NHS, because once it’s gone, no one will be fighting for you and you will no longer have a voice. Vote for the NHS, whatever it takes, fight for it!
2. Going to share two recent personal experiences, at risk of being called out for complaining or whining. I do this because they are so indicative of how women are viewed in our society, even if those women are accomplished and reasonably powerful. If there is a “bright spot” in what is happening right now, it is how much I am seeing and learning how deep racism, misogyny, and homophobia (and all sorts of other phobias and repressive crap) are still.
I work very closely with my husband Peter, running a small (and quickly growing) software company in the renewable energy space. Although we are small, we are extremely international and well respected in our specialized niche. He is CEO, and I am COO, and we are very much co-executives, each bringing our own talents and perspectives. We were recently in a high-stakes meeting with 3 men from another company, who had traveled to town to meet with us. We talked all afternoon, then continued over dinner. If you know me, then you know that I was very much part of the conversation. And if you don’t know me, well, trust that I was! As we got up from the table, the lead guy from the other company said, “Thank you very much for all your time, and thank you for bringing your wife.” There were gasps all around, really. It was kind of a stunning moment.
Then last night I was at a social event, and I was talking to friends. Peter was on my left carrying on another conversation with a woman neither of us know, who was there with her family. We had been only briefly introduced earlier, and she had seemed like an interesting and intelligent person. Then I overheard part of their conversation, and it went like this. Peter said, “Well Marilyn is the Chief Operating Officer. We work together.” And I hear this woman say, “Oh, I see. You have someone to handle the day-to-day for you.” Right. Translation – she imagines that I manage the office, do the books, and keep Peter’s schedule. NOT! Not what I do. Not for me. And not to say that might have been the case, but you know, had the roles been reversed, she would never have assumed that the man in such a role took care of “day to day” things. I was so stunned that I turned around and said, “Not exactly right there.” And knowing she had put her foot in her mouth, said something like, “Well, you give him the space to be creative.” OMG this is going downhill fast. I withdrew and rolled my eyes. No point in getting in a fight during a party, with a stranger.
This was a fairly young (35-ish) probably quite liberal woman. And look at the assumptions she made, and the things she said, in order to suck up to Peter, presumably. Or something. And I wonder if she realized, really, what she had done when she said that – the box she had placed me into – the role she felt so confident I played that she spoke it out loud – there to make Peter successful. Someone to be sure there is TP in the bathroom.
My life has not been impacted by these events. I am no worse off for them. My point is not to say “Woe is me.” My life is actually fantastic. I share them because they are examples of what happens day after day after day after day when we put people into boxes. And I think about women of color or men of color or trans people or anyone else who was not in that disgusting photo taken last night in the Rose Garden, of white men celebrating their “big win” on a bill that is as cruel, greedy, and meaningless as it gets. And then every one of us must think about things we say and do, every day, and really how we see those around us, and what assumptions we make.