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The Female Tax: How Women Are Paying The Ultimate Price For Reproductive Health

4min read
Health

A recent survey of British women reveals that healthcare professionals are not paying enough attention to women's reproductive health concerns and the results have proven to be far more dangerous for women than we have been led to believe

You may be familiar with the infamous phrase "Pink tax" which emerged in recent years as consumer reports discovered a significant disparity between the price of items marketed towards women as opposed to men. Every woman has seen it, the price of "female" products from clothing to personal care items marked up to a much higher price than the same items labelled and repackaged for men. However, the unfortunate reality of this concept exists on a much larger scale than toiletries–it is deeply rooted in the core of women's reproductive health which leaves women in a worse situation physically, financially and emotionally.

To put evidence of "Pink Tax" in more real-world terms, specialist lawyers Bolt Burdon Kemp and consultant gynecologist Dr. Anne Henderson conducted a survey of 2,000 Brits to find out the extent at which women are more disadvantaged. The study looked at four main factors when it came to reproductive health: how much women spend monetarily, the amount of time spent, the rate at which their issues remained unresolved and the emotional toll it took.

Women spend more money on healthcare than men

Basic healthcare products and medications are far from cheap, but for women, who typically require more products on a consistent basis, the costs are significantly greater than what men spend– 30% more, to be exact. Bolt Burdon Kemp's study revealed that women in Britain spend £45 more per year than men on sanitary products, incontinence products, painkillers, anti-sickness and intimate hygiene products. In total, that leaves women dishing out £372.36 per year on healthcare.

Not only are women spending more on healthcare products, but younger women have to spend more money than women over the age of 55 whose purchases typically focus on incontinence products as well as products related to menopause. On average, women between the age of 16-24 spend roughly £10-15 per month whereas women between the ages of 25-34 spend an average of £15-20 per month.

Women make more reoccurring doctor visits

Not only is reproductive healthcare costing women their hard-earned dollars, but it requires a huge sacrifice in time and effort to make repeated visits to the doctor's office. Approximately 235,000 British women have admitted to going to the doctor more than 10 times in the past year whereas no such statistic exists for men.

What makes this issue all the more frustrating is the level of difficulty that exists in merely securing an appointment. Dr. Henderson stated, "Accessibility to primary care is without doubt one of the leading problems facing women and men when it comes to health; partially due to cuts to the NHS. Women continuously cite lack of flexible access to appointments is a major issue to getting their reproductive issues seen to promptly." As women continue to prioritize work and family related responsibilities, the window of opportunity needed to secure and follow through with appointments has been slowly diminishing as time passes.

Women's healthcare issues are often unresolved

In addition to the taxing ordeal of getting an appointment within the timeframe most suited to women's individual needs, the amount of women who are left with unresolved medical issues is far greater than some would suspect. Women not only visit the doctor more often than men, but also cease treatment despite having their issues unresolved. Approximately 476,000 British women have gone back to their doctor more than 11 times due to their doctor's inability to resolve the issue after the first visit and 22% reported having stopped their medical treatment altogether.

You may be asking why women have been giving up on seeking treatment for health-related issues and the answer is simply because of the lack of knowledge, education and understanding that medical professionals have when it comes to catering to female reproductive health. Roughly 4 million women stated that they have no one to talk to about their reproductive health, 14% of which also find it difficult to even speak to doctors.

Dr. Henderson admits that while patients still trust their doctors, that trust is far less than it was 20 years ago. "For many GPs, training in reproductive health is rudimentary; their only knowledge tends to be theoretical," says Dr. Henderson. Patients also prefer to turn to social media and the internet for answers to their health-related questions which not only diminishes the need to visit the doctor in the eyes of some, but patients now feel more well equipped to question their doctors diagnosis and treatment.

The Emotional Cost

The exhausting dilemma of dealing with societal and financial pressures women have endured has steadily heightened as the emotional toll has begun running its course. While some women are able to skip an appointment or two or even manage their symptoms seemingly well on their own, this reality is merely a dream for women who are suffering with undiagnosed and unresolved health issues. Bold Burdon Kemp's research revealed, unsurprisingly, that 11% of women admit to feeling unheard and dismissed when speaking up about their health while 26% admit to feeling stressed out about their reproductive health.
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Although these statistics are upsetting, to say the least, the reality of what women have been enduring, as well as the future of their health, is frightening. Women's healthcare has become more of a profitable business rather than a viable source of help. Bolt Burdon Kemp's study serves to raise awareness about the growing issues surrounding reproductive health and the true cost women must pay in getting their concerns addressed and resolved. Senior Solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp, Olivia Boschat, wants women to be encouraged by this information to prioritize their reproductive health enough to continuously seek help rather than succumb to the pressures of day-to-day life.

What ultimately needs to happen in order to create a more reliable healthcare system and much needed equality between men and women's healthcare products and medications, is more education, funding and most importantly, more women seeking help and speaking up about their health concerns.

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5 Min Read
Politics

Michael Bloomberg Can’t Handle A Woman With A Voice (aka Elizabeth Warren)

Elizabeth Warren majorly called out "arrogant billionaire" Michael Bloomberg for his history of silencing women through NDAs and closed-door settlement negotiations. Sound familiar? Probably because we already have a president like that. At this point, Bloomberg may just spend the remainder of his (hopefully) ill-fated presidential campaign roasting on a spit over a fire sparked by the righteous anger of women. A lesser punishment than he deserves, if you ask me.


At last night's Democratic debate, Michael Bloomberg could barely stammer out an answer to a question on whether or not he would release any of his former accusers from their nondisclosure agreements. His unsatisfactory response was basically a halting list of what he has done for certain nondescript women in his time at City Hall and within his own company.

But that certainly wasn't enough for Elizabeth Warren, nor should it be, who perfectly rephrased his defense as, "I've been nice to some women." Michael Bloomberg is basically that weird, problematic Uncle that claims he can't be racist, "Because I have a Black friend." In a society where power is almost always in the hands of straight, white, cisgendered, men being "nice" to a lucky few is in no way a defense for benefiting from and building upon the systematic silencing of all marginalized communities, let alone women. Stop and frisk, anybody?

Here is a brief clip of the Warren v. Bloomberg exchange, which I highly recommend. It is absolutely (and hilariously) savage.

But let's talk about the deeper issues at hand here (other than Warren being an eloquent badass).

Michael Bloomberg has been sued multiple times, yet each time he was able to snake his way out of the problem with the help of his greatest and only superpower: cold, hard cash. Each time these allegations have come up, in Warren's words, he throws "a chunk of money at the table" and "forces the woman to wear a muzzle for the rest of her life."

As reported by Claire Lampen of The Cut, here are just a few of his prior indiscretions.

  • Pregnancy discrimination—Bloomberg reportedly told a former employee of his to "kill it," in reference to her developing fetus.
  • Sexual harassment—You could literally write a book on this subject (someone did), but for the sake of brevity...
"I'd like to do that piece of meat" - Michael Bloomberg in reference to various women at his company.
  • Undermining #MeToo—Not only did he defend the accused, but he went on the disparage accusers every step of the way.
  • Defaming transgender people—Though he claims to support trans rights, he has also been qupted multiple times as referring to trans women as "some guy wearing a dress."
Yeah... That's not a winning formula for me, Mike.

Furthermore, Warren points out the simple fact that if, as Bloomberg claims, these instances were simply big misunderstandings (He was just joking around!) then why go to all the trouble to cover them up? Does Michael Bloomberg think women can't take a joke? Or can we only surmise that the truth of these events are far darker and dirtier than we could even imagine?

Certain commentators have called Elizabeth Warren's debate presence "agressive," especially in regards to this instance but also continually throughout her entire campaign. If asking poignant questions to known abusers who are seeking to further their own political power is considered "aggressive," then I am here for it. Bring on the aggressive women, please and thank you.

Calling a woman aggressive for being confidant and direct is a gendered complaint. You don't see anyone whining that Bernie is "aggressive" when he goes off on a screaming tangent. Also, have you seen our president? He's basically the poster boy for political temper tantrums. But still, it's Warren that is deemed "aggressive," for honing in on the exact issues that need to be considered in this upcoming election.

This type of derisory label is another aspect of how our society silences women—much like Bloomberg and his NDAs. Because "silencing" is more than just putting a "muzzle" on someone. It's refusing to listen to a person's cries for help. It's disregarding what a woman has to say, because she's too "aggressive." It's taking away someone's power by refusing to truly hear their side of the story. Because if you aren't listening, responding, or even just respecting someone's words, they may well have said nothing at all.

"Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard." - Renecca Solnit

Nondiscolusure agreements are a legal gag for people who have experienced harassment and abuse at the hands of those above them.

Gretchen Carlson, possibly the most famous person subject to an NDA, is one of these people. Her story is so well-known that it has even been immortalized on film, in 2019's Bombshell. Yet she is still forced to maintain her silence. She cannot tell her side of the story even when Hollywood can. She was cajoled into her current position after facing harassment in her workplace. She didn't have the power then to do more than accept her fate. And now, she doesn't have the power to tell her story.

She was, and still is being, silenced.

After her experiences, Carlson was moved to fight for all women to have the power over their truths. In a recent op-ed for the New York Times she declared: "I want my voice back. I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs."

Carlson may still be tied to her NDA, but there are those who go a different route. Celeste Headlee, who wrote an op-ed on SWAAY about her experience, chose to break her nondisclosure agreement. Though doing so undoubtedly opened her up to numerous legal ramifications, she knew that she could no longer "sign away [her] right to justice."

Because that is what an NDA is all about, signing away a person's right to justice. Their story is their justice. Their NDA is a lock and key. Headlee may have broken through that lock, but she must face the consequences.

Neither Carlson nor Headlee are any less brave for how they have handled their journeys. They are both actively working to shift the cultural and political norms that led them here, and their work will, with hope and time, lead to real change. But they are just two drops in an ocean of women who are held hostage by their nondisclosure agreements, by men like Michael Bloomberg, and by a society that would rather silence them than let truth and justice be had.