Monday, June 30, 2014

The Hobby Lobby lobby

The reaction to today's SCOTUS ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby has wakened the Sleeping Giantess. For those of you reading this from outside the US, here's a short version of the case history:

Obama ran for president largely on a platform that promised to reform health care and make it more accessible to more Americans. After much partisan debate, he passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was basically a combined and bastardized version of any number of bills that might have been helpful as they were originally written--but with the vast majority of the helpful stuff cut out. One of the few things that made lots of Americans happy, particularly those with vaginas, was that the ACA mandated that all insurance plans, private or public, must include contraceptive coverage. Yay!

But Big Money was not excited about the ACA, and therefore many politicians who are beholden to that money were not excited about the ACA. Providing health care to employees not already covered and/or expanding coverage that was deemed inadequate under the new law would be expensive. What's worse (and surely the larger point), support for the ACA meant support for the country's liberal (read: "anti-corporation") lobby and thus could lead to the creation of more "anti-business" policies down the pike. So stopping the ACA was important to what one might typically classify as "right-wing" interests.

After a mind-boggling number of misinformation- and propaganda-based campaigns failed to convince enough Americans that caring for their own health was not in their own best interest (imagine that!), the anti-ACA camp needed to find a new angle from which to chip away at the bill. It didn't take them long to find comfy bedfellows in social conservatives (note that I'm refraining from using the words Republican or Christians here), who were appalled that their religious organizations--many of whom employ secular women--would end up footing the bill for their employees' recreational sex acts. Oh Noez!

So Obama goes all 'don't worry, religious organizations won't have to pay, we'll work it out,' and the people were all like 'OK, that's still kinda creepy, but cool, fine, everyone gets what they want,' and the media were like, '[static]' cuz they're not really equipped to deal when a sudden, rational response interrupts what might have been a perfectly good national crisis.

But meanwhile Big Money was like 'oh crap, people really seem to be settling into the idea of health care as a human right, and that's gonna suck for us one way or another.' So they hit up the social conservatives again to see if they've got anything else cooking, and it turns out they've got an ace in the hole--a for-profit but "religious" company that, because it's for profit, isn't covered by Obama's Big Compromise with religious organizations.

Hobby Lobby was the anti-ACA lobby's wet dream: a nice, white, midwestern, all-I-needed-was-Jesus-and-my-own-bootstraps success story, the American Dream at work. How on earth could the government expect this God-fearing all-American family to financially support the sexual promiscuity of its employees? It's just plain anti-religious and unAmerican.

Of course, the idea of covering contraceptive stuff in its insurance plans hadn't bothered Hobby Lobby enough prior to the mandate to compel them to ever check their own policies to ensure such coverage was excluded when it would have been optional for them to do so (see p. 14, #55), and at least as recently as December 2012 the company appeared to take no issue with investing in retirement funds that come, at least in part, from the sale of contraceptive items up to and including that babykilling "abortion pill" that we ignorant nonbelievers call Plan B.

Long story short (too late), the Hobby Lobby case went to the Supreme Court, and five of our Justices sided with the store. I'd like to get all up in arms about it being an anti-woman thing, cuz it is, of course, anti-woman. Sure, that pisses me off. But what bothers me the most is that I sometimes wonder whether the backlash of (especially anti-Christian) objections from feminist and secular organizations almost feeds into a larger plan of alienating us from each other (women against men, secular against religious), of weakening our bonds with one another in the face of a much more powerful enemy.

So it seems to me that we oversimplify the issue--and maybe even disadvantage ourselves--when we look at this as a case about women's rights...or sexual freedom or reproductive health. It never was. And it wasn't even about "religious freedom"--the general lack of support for Hobby Lobby's case from religious organizations demonstrates that. This case was nothing but a grand political maneuver aimed at reminding us "little people"--and, more importantly, anyone left in government who would like to protect us--that policies aimed at helping lower- and (what's left of) middle-income families at the expense of the wealthy Will Not Be Tolerated. We women just basically "took one for the [corporate] team," that's all. It was about Big Money putting on a power play for the rest of us to see, and now we know (if we didn't already) that five of our Justices are bona fide cast members.

I find it profoundly sad.

All we really have at this point is each other and the few dollars we can still manage to scrape together. It is now more than ever our obligation to use those powers--the powers inherent in the bonds we form with each other and in where we choose to spend our time and money--to stand up for ourselves. So...

If you:

  • Have a vagina
  • Enjoy vaginas 
  • Love people who have vaginas

...don't spend your money at Hobby Lobby, and for the love of all that's sparkly and scrapbookable, DON'T WORK THERE!!!

It's that simple. Don't shop there, don't work there. Don't support Hobby Lobby's role in the latest corporate power play. If we stand together on this, they'll get the message eventually: Using women as pawns is Not OK. We see what you're doing, and we won't stop fighting back.