A gem of an observation from an article in today’s New York Times Sports section about how female family members of ex-football players are pressuring the NFL to acknowledge traumatic brain injury among football players. As the article noted, the ones pursuing the NFL on this issue are not the players themselves, but the women in their lives:
But what if men were to find that a woman’s product — cosmetics, for example — were dangerous? Would the husbands fight for change as passionately?
“I don’t think so,” said [Eleanor] Perfetto, a senior policy director at Pfizer [and widow of NFL lineman Ralph Wenzel]. “I think it’s the way women handle health issues. If it were all women who were sick, it would probably be a lot of women taking care of them. That’s kind of how health issues are handled in our society.”
Yes. Yes it is. That’s why I get furious at men who dismiss or bad-mouth health care reform. That’s fucking easy for you to say! I always want to scream at them. It’s also why I know plenty of men who oppose HCR but almost no women who do.
Let’s face it, men are not invested in family health the way women are. That’s their privilege. Michelle Obama recently observed that women are “crushed by the current structure of our health care. Women are the ones to do it. Mothers are the ones that do it. And many women find themselves doing the same thing for their spouses.”
That’s why American women consistently listed improving health care as one of the most important issues in the 2008 election, and why a 2009 Gallup poll showed that: “Men and women form almost an exact mirror image on the issue of a new healthcare law. Women favor it, while men are opposed.”
Health care reform affects all Americans, but to me—and other women—it’s painfully obvious that it affects some of us way more than others. Because for better or for worse, women are how health issues are handled in our society.