Anglachel has a great post up called “Girls Have Cooties,” in which she slices and dices the recent New York Times cover story revealing that women pay much higher rates for private health insurance coverage, even including policies that don’t cover pregnancy and childbirth! Yes, friends–apparently, if you’re a menstruating woman, you are defined merely as an empty vessel at risk of becoming pregnant, and that determines the price you pay no matter what your policy actually covers. You are defined solely by what may or may not emerge from your uterus–no matter what your actual plans or reproductive possibilities are. Says Anglachel:
So, women and men engage in sex, but women get pregnant and might have complications. That men, statistically more likely to have more partners, are at a higher level of risk for STDs and (since they are less likely to seek treatment) are more likely to suffer the long term effects of a disease like herpes and to spread that disease to other partners doesn’t come up. Can we also talk about the propensity for male “young adults” to engage in risky behavior and end up requiring extremely expensive treatment for injuries? A friend of mine is recently out of ICU because of bashing in his own skull in a fall while trying to skateboard while drunk, for example. Are these accidents being factored in to male insurance premiums? Is it really the case that a woman is 48% more expensive to insure, or is it that the insurers know that men don’t use medical services enough to make any money off them?
It’s striking to be faced once again with these deeply-rooted cultural stereotypes and primitive fears about the permeable, undisciplined female body: leaky, smelly, requiring constant and vigilant maintenance, full of holes that might be used or misused, and who knows what (or who!) might eventually pop out or prolapse? This is from the NYT article, by way of an explanation for why all women simply must pay higher rates than men:
“Bearing children increases other health risks later in life, such as urinary incontinence, which may require treatment with medication or surgery.”
Why do these bitchez think they can make these messes and expect health insurance to pay for them, just because they bought health insurance? Stupid, stupid women–why didn’t they ask for the XY chromosome instead? It’s all their own fault! Aristotle’s Masterpiece (1755), a popular book on “family planning” in eighteenth-century Britain and colonial British America, offers a trenchant analysis of the cause of “monstrous births,” p. 90:
Monsters are sometimes produced by other means; to wit: by the undue Coition of a Man and his Wife, when her monthly Flowings are upon her; which being a Thing against Nature, no Wonder that it should produce an unnatural Issue. If therefore a Man’s Desire be never so great, for Coition (as sometimes it is after long Absence) yet if a Woman knows that the Custom of Woman is upon her, she ought not to admit of any Embraces, which at that Time are both unclean and unnatural. The Issue of those unclean Embraces proving often monstrous, as a Just Punishment for such turpidinous Action.
These ideas long predate the eighteenth century, of course–this edition of Aristotle’s Masterpiece was the twenty-sixth printing, but some of the ideas it contains, like the theory above of one of the causes of birth defects, were centuries old already. (The two lower images are illustrations of “monstrous births” from Aristotle’s Masterpiece, pages 95 and 92 respectively.) Why do I get the feeling that private insurance companies are more about “Just Punishment” for having bodies, especially women’s bodies, and not about health care? Single-payer universal health care would be a significant step toward gender equality.