A Message from a Veteran of the Truth & Health Culture Wars

This post is a couple of days late, and it comes after an astonishing “science march” in which thousands of researchers and teachers in the STEM fields protested what they saw as government interference in fact-based research as opposed to the influence of faith-based institutions controlling resources devoted to education and further studies.

It also comes after an astonishing vote by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to repeal large portions of the Affordable Care Act, especially the parts where insurance companies couldn’t charge you more for pre-existing conditions. They also broadened the definition of that term (pre-existing condition) to include things like pregancy. Sexual assault. Depression. Acne.

Understandably, people are upset. There are cries of how this will make huge segments of the population of the U.S. uninsurable, and this will lead to more untreated chronic diseases and even deaths because people simply won’t be able to risk bankruptcy in order to be treated.

I understand the concerns about both incidents. At the same time I also have a somewhat bitter reply:

This is Not New.

I’ve worked in the field of sex education really since high school, when I became a Peer Counselor and was given “real facts” about sexually transmitted infections so that my fellow students could come to me if they had concerns they weren’t comfortable asking an adult. If you include educating my children, I’ve been in it nonstop since 1989, at least.

I can tell you that sex education has always been targeted. Whether it is the see-no-evil type of “education” known as abstinence or the fire-and-brimstone fear-mongering of “you’ll catch a disease, get pregnant, and die!” there has never been a publicly funded sex education course created for the age of the people who need it that actually talks about sex for the real reason people engage in it: because it feels good.

In fact, many anatomy charts don’t even include the clitoris in the diagram of the female sexual organs. And the fact that you, an adult, just possibly looked over your shoulder to check and see if anyone around noticed that you just read the word clitoris on your screen gives more credence to this argument: we live in a society where guilt and misperceptions about sexuality are built into the fabric of our culture, whether that’s from direct influence of a religious group or simply the leftover “morals” of a less tolerant time.

Before I get too ranty, here, I’ll come back to the point: this government and religious interference in fact-based education is nothing new, at least in the sexuality education area. Apparently it’s just that now that it’s spread to other disciplines (at least, more than it was already present) people are upset and marching in the streets.

To which I say, Great! Welcome to the fight. So glad you could join us.

What I try not to say (except perhaps here, softly, on my blog) is What took you so long?

Brutish and Short

Likewise, I can completely empathize with people who are stressed about their health insurance becoming so expensive that they won’t be able to afford care for themselves or their children if they get sick. I empathize because, for most of the time that I was raising my children, I was uninsured. It’s the joy of being a freelancer; basically, my options were “don’t get sick enough to keep from being able to work. And the one or two times I did get a job where there was insurance possible, my then-pre-existing-condition of an umbilical hernia forced me into signing waivers that said the “healthcare” wouldn’t cover it.

We’ll give you coverage for anything you don’t have, but not for anything you actually need.

And I remember hanging out with people my age who had “real jobs” who would laugh at the idea of “universal health care” (never quite able to answer why we are the only first-world nation not to have it). Currently I see people my age pretty worried, because we’re getting to the point where we need more medications, more preventive care.

Me, I’m not worried. I discovered (years too late) that the whole time I’d been uninsurable through commercial means I could have had insurance, thanks to my military service, through the VA. If that sounds scary to some of you who have heard horror stories about how vets are treated at facilities, well, I can’t really say, because I have little to compare it to.

But I can tell you that “some level of care” is better than “no care at all”.

And again, I’m glad that people are looking at the current system of health insurance in the U.S. and saying “This isn’t right! We need to do better!

Great! Welcome to the fight. So glad you could join us.

(An softly, here on my blog) What took you so long?

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