It’s no secret that our bodies are still being policed by a ton of people who don’t have them. And carelessly so, at that. Just the other day, Ohio state rep John Becker openly admitted that he didn’t do an ounce of research to find out if re-implanting an ectopic pregnancy was even possible before he proposed it as a law.
I’m just going to repeat that for those in the back. A man didn’t do the basic homework on his own proposed law that directly impacts the women who reside near him. I mean, are we even shocked at this point?
And that’s not all. Our federal and state funding shows that a measly six percent of “maternal and child health” actually goes to the health of mothers. This is absolutely absurd. Without the women who are laboring and birthing children, we wouldn’t have adult men capable of making laws in the first place. And if someone as rich and famous as Serena Williams can’t even get full and easy access to maternal medical care, the rest of us are totally screwed.
While I’m super-duper grateful that I don’t have to don my Handmaid’s cape just yet, all roads in certain states seem to be slowly leading to Gilead. For a moment, I stopped and wondered to myself: If our very own laws aren’t protecting the bodily rights of women, how does the rest of the world’s health care stack up? So I took a little peek at an infographic made by the folks at MuchNeeded.com, and now I kind of wish I hadn’t. Because I am currently sitting in a giant ball of female rage.
Buckle up, folks, it’s going to be a bumpy fucking ride.
Sure, it’s a fact that women have it better in wealthier, industrialized nations. But did you know that the U.S. has one of the worst maternal mortality rates among developing countries? And that it’s just getting worse, especially for African American mothers?
It’s easy to look at our own nation and get really ticked off about the current state of affairs, but then I saw how the rest of the world is helping — or hurting — women. What I found out makes me want to ugly cry while eating an entire cake and screaming “Oh, the humanity!” into the dark night.
For every 100,000 women who give birth in Sierra Leone, 1,360 will die during the process. In fact, there are 25 nations in Africa that have the highest maternal mortality rate across the board. Kuwait is the only country outside of Europe that measures the lowest in this category. African nations also have the lowest female life expectancy of any continent, and they join India as the top countries with the most occurrences of suicide. Maldives happens to be a nation with one of the the highest rates of early marriage for girls. And in over a dozen different countries, including Bolivia and Bangladesh, a woman also has at least a 50% chance of being abused by her husband or partner.
Here’s where it gets really fucked up. You’d think that among all of these stats, the United States would rank favorably. We’ve got all the money, and we’ve got all the resources, so it makes sense that we would and could easily care for the human beings who make up over half of our population… right?
In almost every area outside of life expectancy, our country is disappointing us. Among our worst offenders, the U.S. is struggling the most with high suicide rates and an epic amount of violence towards women. There are 13 countries that do not allow or engage in forcing underage girls to marry (thank you Denmark and Singapore!), and our nation is most definitely not one of them.
While this is a fairly comprehensive infographic, it’s just the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t include statistics around menstruation support, protections or bans in place for abortions, the stupid fucking “pink tax,” rates of female genital mutilation, access to comprehensive mental health care for women and mothers, and basic OBGYN resources. I shudder to think about what I might find if I go down any of those rabbit holes.
The maddening truth is that our world still doesn’t prioritize women’s health care, and even our own country is struggling to improve basic circumstances for all of us instead of just an elite few. The mental, emotional, and physical well-being of women directly impacts so many areas of our collective lives. We hold our families’ worlds up, we go out and have careers that contribute to our society, we make constant accommodations for the total lack of gender equality that still pervades our modern culture, and then the vast majority of us subject ourselves to impossible beauty standards that keep many of us locked in lifelong shame.
Our overall health matters, and yet we are still fighting to be seen, heard, and rightfully supported. Something has got to give. This is our rude awakening. It’s time to get mad and get the fuck moving.
Don’t be like John Becker and play dumb when it counts the most. Research the laws in your state that impact women. Fight against the ones that keep us unprotected and vulnerable. Support political candidates who actually give a damn about girls. Donate to organizations like Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Planned Parenthood, and Bloody Good Period that really care about providing medical resources to all women and actively work to turn the tables on oppressive legislation. If you don’t see any real advocates doing work you feel needs to happen, become one yourself. Most importantly, be willing to look at the tough stuff with powerful eyes, and never stop talking about the issues you hold dear.
Women around the world are counting on us to care. They are needing us to step up and help make it easier and more safe to exist as a female in this world. They, like us, are just wanting to live a life they love, knowing that they are safe and empowered to do so.
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