Designed to Scare Women

There’s nothing that drives me crazier than ads that use misleading and illogical arguments to make their cases. I thought all that was done with once this last presidential election was over, but I guess I was wrong. The health care debate has brought the conservative creepy-crawlies  out of the woodwork. Here is an ad that illustrates my point.

First of all, the ad doesn’t say that it is using 30-year-old statistics. Secondly, it uses survival rates when mortality rates are more accurate. Thirdly, the American Cancer Society denies citing the statistics that are used in the ad. And finally, the ad’s scare factor is based more on what it doesn’t say than what it does: What is this huge amount of money that the public health care option will cost taxpayers? And what period of time is being referred to when the 300,000 breast cancer victims are supposed to have died?

And what about when you compare other kinds of health condition or situations? (I’m going to throw in Germany’s rates as well, since they also have a “public option.”)

Infant Mortality Rates: (Source)

  • Germany: 4.3 per 1,000 live births
  • United Kingdom: 4.8 per 1,000 live births
  • United States: 6.3 per 1,000 live births

Maternal mortality Rates: (Source)

  • Germany: 8 per 100,000
  • United Kingdom: 7 per 100,000
  • United States: 8 per 100,000

The organization that is paying for this ad, the Independent Women’s Forum, sounds like it would be feminist, but it’s not. (Read my post about “False Feminists.”) This is definitely not a case of “truth in advertising”! If you just take it at face value, it sounds convincing–and scary. I’d like to think that people viewing this ad would be discerning enough to ask questions like I’ve asked. Or to check out the statistics and sources for themselves.

For a more detailed discussion of this ad and its claims, go to this article on FactCheck.org.

“Raunchy” Humor

I had a video for today, but changed it to private view after reconsideration. (It was public for a few hours this morning, so some of you might have caught it.) I said in my commentary that I’m a bit of a prude and I guess I’m more of one that I thought. The video, which was a bit by the comedian April Macie, was about a sexual act of a very intimate nature and it made me squeamish. I might be showing my age, but I think it has more to do with my personality: I’m just not that comfortable talking about sex.

I can hear about it, though. I listen to my daughters talk about sex, and although they sometimes shock me, they never disgust me. And I defend their right to talk freely about their sex lives. I just don’t feel comfortable talking freely about mine. I’m sure that is a relief to many of you.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll never write about my sexual experiences. It just won’t be explicit. That may be disappointing to other readers. Sorry.

I think it’s important to talk about sex with our children and our sex partners. Sometimes to our doctors as well. (Although, I’ve found from experience that most doctors aren’t any more comfortable talking about sex than I am.) I have found YouTube to be a source of frank but important information–if you can get past all the sex shows that are inevitable in a venue such as that.

One thing I have learned about sex talk is that it’s almost always educational–at least for me. Age doesn’t mean that you know all that there is to know about sex (whether you’re young and consider yourself hip or “old” and consider yourself experienced). I myself learned more about the G-spot the other day on YouTube and it was really informative. Now all I have to do is share it with my husband.

Oh, and for those of you who would like to see the raunchy video I had for today, just drop me a line and I’ll send you a link–or you can look it up on College Humor under “Funny Women” or “April Macie.”

Vermont Requires Breastfeeding Accommodations

Vermont’s Commission on Women and Department of Health is launching an initiative that offers free assistance to businesses in the state who are working to comply with a new law that requires accommodations for breastfeeding mothers at work. According to the Burlington Free Press, Vermont’s initiative is part of a nationwide US Department of Health and Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Bureau initiative that aims to encourage women to breast-feed for longer after returning to work.

The law requires businesses to provide comfortable, private accommodations for women to pump milk and to allow breaks for pumping. Wendy Love, President of Vermont’s Commission on Women, told the Times Argus, “Sometimes it’s as simple as rigging a clothesline and fabric around a cubicle to create an enclosed space for women to be able to express breast milk and not be in dirty bathroom…There are very easy ways to do it.”

State labor statistics indicate that the fastest-growing sector of Vermont’s workforce is women with children under age 3. According to WCAX, about 85 percent of women in Vermont breastfeed their newborns. Vermont Commission on Women statistics show that for every dollar spent to support lactation, employers see a three dollar return on the investment reported the Burlington Free Press. The practice lowers turnover and absenteeism rates, lowers health care costs, and leads to higher morale and productivity.

Source: the Weekly Feminist News Digest of the Feminist Majority Foundation


Rights of Lactating Women

The Ohio State Supreme Court ruled this past Thursday that the state law banning discrimination against pregnant women cannot be used to protect a woman who was taking unauthorized breaks to pump her breast milk. The ruling did not deal with the issue of whether lactating women should be protected under the same law as pregnant women.

If the mother, LaNisa Allen, had sought accommodation for her situation and the company (Totes/Isotoner) had refused to give her any, she would have had grounds to sue based on the pregnancy discrimination law, thus forcing a ruling to be made about lactating women.  The sole dissenting judge, Justice Paul Pfeifer, wrote that the court should have made such a ruling anyway instead of dealing only with Allen’s dismissal.

I agree that Allen should have sought accommodation but what if she had and Totes/Isotoner had refused? Perhaps she knew from past practice that the company would not have accommodated her, so in an effort to continue to nourish her baby and keep her job, she attempted to handle it by pumping on the sly. I’m not saying that she made the right choice. I am saying that this is a choice that she shouldn’t have had to make.

I know that if lactating women were allowed to take extra breaks to pump their milk, there would be an outcry from people who don’t think women should be given special accommodations for anything to do with pregnancy or child-rearing. As if pumping milk was restful. (They ought to try it some time.) But in this less-than-child-friendly nation, women are all too often told that they chose to have children, so why should others have to bear the consequences of their decisions?

What I would like to know and the article didn’t say was if she received a warning or other disciplinary action first or if she was just fired outright without any chance to redeem herself. I would take issue with that, but I guess there’s no law that says that employers have to go through some kind of disciplinary process before they can fire someone.  (And there is no mention of a union which could have defended her rights.) Then again, maybe Allen had other problems which contributed to her dismissal.

The bottom line is that this is an issue that will have to be dealt with in the courts at some point, probably on a state-by-state basis. Do women have the right to breastfeed or not? Or should they be required to put their babies on the bottle if they’re going to work outside of the home? Another way to put it, of course, is do babies have the right to receive the best nourishment they can get or must their health be compromised when their mothers work? And, are poor mothers who have no choice about working going to be forced to use formula while wealthier women are free to breastfeed?

Apparently no one has asked if Totes/Isotoner would have accommodated Allen if she had asked them to. My guess is not unless they had been forced to by the law.

Women Vulnerable When It Comes to Health Insurance

I was surprised, to say the least, when I read these words this morning:

“Amazingly, the majority of insurance companies exclude coverage for child bearing, and many exclude pap smears and mammograms, major reasons women need health care coverage. Over 10 states permit insurance companies to exclude coverage for FDA-approved contraceptives.

“And, at least nine states allow insurance companies to deny applications from victims of domestic violence while numbers vary, women are the vast majority of victims of convicted domestic violence offenders.”

Please refer to the entire article for reasons why women are especially vulnerable when it comes to health care and insurance.

The woman who wrote this article for the Kansas City Star, Jaci Mairs, is an RN and a JD, but her facts were called into question by most of the people who left comments. Most insisted that they had never been without coverage for mammograms and pap smears and that maternity benefits were always offered (albeit as an add-on). No one had anything to say about the exclusion of coverage for FDA-approved contraceptives.

These criticisms don’t negate the fact that women are under-insured and often ignored in the health care debate.

The most obvious obstacles to women receiving adequate (or any) health insurance were the fact that 60% of all women are not in the work force and that when they do work they tend to work part-time or in the kinds of jobs that don’t offer insurance coverage. Some of the comments said that it was a woman’s choice whether or not to work and to work part-time and at low-paying jobs. So I guess that means that these women deserve to not have insurance?? Another comment was that women are usually covered by their husband’s policies. First of all, has this person seen the divorce rate as well as the rate of single-parent households in this country? (Statistics.) And secondly, men are losing their jobs left and right in this economy, so where does that leave their dependents (not to mention themselves)?

Everyone is suffering in this economy, but women are most at risk because they have less say-so and power over what happens to them. Anti-feminists figure that women have gotten all they deserve (good and bad), but the fact that there are anti-feminists proves to me that feminists still have a lot of work cut out for them. If women in general won’t speak up for themselves, then feminists have to do it for them. And one area in which feminists should be most vocal is in the health care debate.