Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Same, Same

There have been days when I thought I had nothing to write about and then ‘Poof’ there is so much to say I can’t do it in one blob. Where to begin? Let’s start with supper yesterday in the dining room at Mom’s retirement community. It’s called ‘retirement’ rather than assisted living and that makes a real difference in attitude—if not services and the kind of person who lives in the apartments. Mom sits with four other very nice women. The same can’t be said for the women who sit at the table behind them. The women who sit there are forever complaining or making some pretty outrageous statements. Here’s how yesterday’s conversation began; “My daughter says that they are not all Mexicans. That you can’t call them Mexicans because they are not from Mexico—even though they look like Mexicans. She says you have to call them ‘Spanics’. I can’t tell them apart but my daughter says they are all different.”

How’s that for 2009? OK they are old ladies, and they live in pretty much the white Northwest. But they watch TV and they certainly have seen a map of the world, and you have to know that they have heard the term ‘Hispanic’. My guess is that the discussion would have been different if it was about women, but who knows. Maybe they think all young women look alike. I didn’t participate in their conversation so I don’t know.

For whatever reason their lack of knowledge made me think about women and the ongoing battle we wage year after year, issue after issue. It’s always the same.

I’m not even going to mention the fact that a black guy rather than a white woman is President—this was not a gender issue. Hillary just ran a bad campaign. Oops, I mentioned it but let’s move on, or maybe back.

Beginning in the 1800’s women started to organize, petition, and picket for the right to vote. If you remember your history, the mid 1800s’ were also when the Civil War was fought to insure, among other things, the rights of slaves to vote. And women being women they did what they could to help the slaves obtain their right to vote—often at the expense of their own battle. Sure enough, (Voila! you might say,) the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color or previous condition of servitude" (i.e., slavery). That Amendment was ratified at the end of the war on February 3, 1870. Guess how long it took for women (white or of color) to get the same rights. Don’t concern yourself with the addition. Women didn’t get the vote until August 18, 1920. Surprisingly (at least based on the women who chatter at Mom’s apartment complex) there were nine western states that adopted woman suffrage legislation by 1912. But it took another eight years before it became law.

Is this desire to sacrifice ourselves for someone else’s benefit or the greater good a mother thing? Or is it, "Oh no don't worry about me I'll just sit in the dark til it's my turn". Unfortunately, as a consequence of our constant sacrifice, men (and some women) think it’s OK just to set aside our needs. For example, on January 28th 2009 (yes we leapt out of the 19th century – although, as you will see it’s same, same), the House passed a version of the stimulus plan which eliminated a section that included expansion of health care services for low-income women. And why are we surprised. Women’s needs are often set aside for something deemed more important. And really, how important can low income women be? I’m not naive, of course there are equally important issues – like funding for Viagra, and sports stadiums – but fair is fair.

To his credit Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services created a Department waiver so women could use Medicaid funds for cancer screenings and family planning services. The paragraph eliminated would have expanded eligibility for these programs to more low-income women, without applying for a time-consuming and costly waiver.

We have an economic crisis which impacts on everyone but especially low income women who are losing homes, jobs and health insurance. And with one stroke of a pen, the safety-net of health care and family planning services went away. One of the reasons was that it wouldn’t create jobs – pish posh. Expanding family planning to cover more people would absolutely have added health care jobs. But why dawdle about the truth when lies are so much easier to believe.

I’m not sure what women sacrificing or getting dissed has to do with Spanics all looking alike, but I think somewhere between the absurd and ridiculous we will absolutely find common ground. We’re just sayin’… Iris


Lina said...

Around my house we prefer to identify as "hispanos," this term courtesy of GWB, but I think I might adopt "spanics" for the future.

Also, Sunday was International Women's Day, and was actually celebrated here in Buenos Aires, so I thought this post came at an apt time.

All my love!

The Calico Quilter said...

Although I heartily wish that all women would stand up on one accord and say "Hell, no, I'm not going to defer to anybody anymore. I want what I need and I deserve and I want it NOW!", I am very afraid for the state of human civilization while women are otherwise occupied catching up on all they were denied in the past. It ain't easy being the glue that holds everything together.