What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?
The answer is clear – menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:
Men would brag about how long and how much.
Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties.
Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts.
Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. (Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of commercial brands such as John Wayne Tampons, Muhammad Ali’s Rope-a-dope Pads.)
So wrote Gloria Steinem, who is celebrating her 80th birthday today (Happy birthday Gloria!).
And while Steinem wrote “If Men Menstruated” in 1978, the essay still rings true 35 years later.
We, of course, have no way to know the results of Steinem’s thought experiment. We also don’t know if 99 percent of men used birth control, if companies such as Hobby Lobby would be at the Supreme Court today because they don’t want to comply with the law that requires health plans to include no-cost coverage for contraceptives.
But while both men and women benefit from access to birth control by being able to plan their child-bearing, birth control is essential to women’s equal participation in society. That is why more than ten years ago, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued an opinion making clear that refusing to provide insurance coverage for contraception is sex discrimination. So to be clear: Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are asking for special permission to discriminate against women because of their religious beliefs. It’s no surprise that two-thirds of female voters don’t think corporations should be able to deny health insurance to their employees because of their religious objections.
As one of the 99 percent of women who has used birth control, I am joining hundreds of other men and women on the steps of the Supreme Court today. I am here for the women who work for Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, and other companies who cannot speak up for fear of losing their jobs. I am here because if the Supreme Court allows Hobby Lobby to discriminate against their employees because they are women, this could open the door to more discrimination, and we will see more Arizona-style discrimination bills. I am here because I support freedom of religion, but not freedom to discriminate.
Please join us in standing up against discrimination. Please share this image and post on Facebook and Twitter today using the hashtag #notmybossbusiness.