July 24, 2009
An illustration on the subject of health care reform
I was getting caught up on the blogs yesterday and came across Christie’s story of her mother’s battle to get adequate care during her recent struggle with cancer (with an update here). I defy anyone to read that first post and afterward claim that our health care system doesn’t need a massive overhaul.
I think there’s more to it than that, though; I think perhaps it’s a story that indicates the need for a sea change in society, not just in the health care industry. It’s a story the likes of which I’ve heard before, not to that extreme, but there are certainly similar elements: a woman of a certain age (or older) is not taken seriously when she complains of severe pain, and after entirely too much time goes by, it’s finally determined that the source of the pain is metastatic cancer. (Obviously such experiences, at least insofar as one’s pain not being taken seriously goes, are not limited to older women suffering from cancer, but like I said, I’ve heard that particular tale all too often.) It comes back to what I would argue is one of the essential elements of feminism (or perhaps even progressivism in general): trusting women’s (or poor people’s, or People of Color’s, or Queer people’s, etc.) experiences, and their perceptions thereof. There seems to be a paternalistic mindset here: “I know better than you what you’re going through, and I am going to trust that knowledge over your assertions.” What causes such a mindset? Perhaps more importantly: what can we do to change it?