Why Women Aren't People (But Corporations Are)


Earlier today, five men agreed that closely held corporations with anti-birth control religious beliefs cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage to female employees. Corporations are people, my friend. Women? Not so much.

The decision to declare women Unpeople was a narrow one; the five men agreed that corporations (people) shouldn’t be able to use Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby to justify discriminating against anyone except women (lesser people-ish entities), and won’t be able to use it to deny other health care besides contraception. The same religious exemption to the Affordable Care Act that applies to nonprofit organizations also applies to for-profit companies controlled by a small group of people who think birth control is black magic. This ruling applies to whore pills only. Not to blood transfusions, AIDS retrovirals, vaccines, treating infections caused by getting a SATAN RULES tattoo with an infected needle at an unsafe tattoo parlor, antibiotics purchased to fight off a nasty case of the clap caught while raw dogging a stranger in a bar bathroom. Just birth control. No matter why a woman needs it.

The five men also agreed that their ruling only applies to corporations (people) with “sincerely held” religious beliefs. You know, the kind of religious beliefs that are so sincerely anti-birth control that they invest in and profit from companies that manufacture birth control. The kind of religious beliefs that cite as justification for their beliefs a series of religious texts written before Western Medicine as we know it existed.

If corporations are people then why can’t I punch one in the fucking face?

Today, five men on the Supreme Court said that women’s reproductive health care is less important than a woman’s boss’s superstition-based prudery and moral trepidation about fornication for female pleasure. They ruled that it doesn’t matter if birth control actually causes abortions; it only matters if business owners sincerely believe that birth control causes abortions. They ruled that it’s okay for a corporate person to discriminate against a female semi-person and dictate that she not spend her compensation on stuff that might possibly be enabling sex without consequences, if they believe that God thinks they should. Female semi-persons who work for these company-persons can simply obtain their birth control directly through the government, say the five men of the Supreme Court, the same way female employees of religious-based nonprofits are supposed to (religious-based nonprofits, by the way, have mounted challenges to signing a piece of paper indicating that they object to birth control, because that objection would indirectly sanction their whoreployees’ birth control by admitting that they weren’t getting it through work. So we’ve got that legal clusterfuck to look forward to, now).

The five men of the Supreme Court made pains to specify that this only applies to bosses who specifically object to women who want to use a portion of their compensation to obtain a pharmaceutical that will help them not get pregnant. But the actual women of the Supreme Court — each of whom joined in dissenting from the majority Five Man Opinion — see things differently.

In a dissent I’m bound by SCOTUS commentary tradition to call “blistering,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the decision “of startling breadth” that could unleash “havoc” on American society (in fact, Mother Jones surmises that 90% of all American businesses fit the criteria to be classified as “closely-held corporations,” so, gird your loins, ladies. Literally). She wrote that for-profit companies, unlike nonprofits, don’t exist to further an agenda beyond money making and therefore cannot be said to have religious beliefs, and points out that one of the forms of birth control objected to by the fact-ignoring folks at Conestoga Wood and Hobby Lobby is the IUD, which, if purchased and installed without the help of insurance, would cost about as much as a woman earning minimum wage would make in a month. “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield,” she wrote.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby (and its all-female legal team) today, I suspect, because there simply aren’t enough women in positions of power to counter the latest attack on contraception from the right. There aren’t enough people in government — or on the Court — who know personally what it feels like to be a low-income woman who does not want to become pregnant.

None of the five men behind the majority ruling have have ever suffered from endometriosis, painful periods, dangerous pregnancies, or simply risked becoming pregnant at a time that they weren’t mentally, fiscally, or physically prepared for a pregnancy. They bought Hobby Lobby’s “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY!” argument despite the fact that Hobby Lobby doesn’t personally object to covering vasectomies for men; their religion only applies slut panic to women. The Court won’t classify Hobby Lobby’s woman-only scientifically illiterate objections to contraception as “discrimination” against women. But it would be discrimination if Hobby Lobby’s religious objections applied to black people or gay people. Are you following? Me neither.

Who would have guessed five schlubby law nerds would be capable of such a stunning display of mental gymnastics?

For years, it seems that the men who run things in this country have been dancing around the implication that women aren’t people, at least when put up against other, more important things like men, corporations, zygotes, and male feelings. But now, finally, in the year 2014, two generations removed from the first Supreme Court case that established that states can’t make it illegal to purchase contraception, five dudes on the highest court in the land have put this in writing. It’s not that women don’t matter, it’s that they matter measurably less than a corporation’s “conscience.”

But everything isn’t bleak doom and gloom. Not yet, at least. Women are lucky that they have Justices Beyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Bader Ginsburg in their corner (NEVER DIE, RUTH BADER GINSBURG!). Some pundits are speculating that this legal clusterfuck serves to further justify permanently decoupling health care coverage with employment at some point down the road. Others are hopeful that this case, the judicial abortion that I sincerely believe that it is, will galvanize women (and men) who don’t like their bosses all up in their shit to actually vote this November.

Your boss can’t stop you from doing that.

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