If you've ever been a woman, you know about the exceptional woman. She's not like those other girls. She likes football or drinking dark beer or whatever. She has guy friends. She can do math. She's not a bitch. The exceptional woman is, actually, like a lot of other women, but she sets herself up as somehow being very special. She's annoying, but it's understandable. You usually see the exceptional woman in situations where the odds are stacked against women and the way the exceptional woman carves a space out for herself in the face of a lot of hateful nonsense is to insist, fine, even if other women are like that, I am not. I am special.
The truth is that, eventually, even if you think you're the exceptional woman, you come to find out that, no, you're not. If a situation is woman-hating enough, you can't protect yourself in a bubble of "but not me, right guys?"
Because you can't escape from being a woman.
I was reminded of that reading excerpts from Julia Hurley's op-ed on Obamacare that ran in the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
Tom Humphrey has the relevant parts:
I am a conservative Republican who believes in providing a future for myself without government involvement. I have been unemployed for nearly 14 months. Unable to collect unemployment and unwilling to take government assistance, I have spent nearly all my savings and, unless an employment option arrives, soon will be spending my retirement savings as well.
If the Democratic Party continues to provide everything for a voter without encouraging some personal responsibility, I fear a gap between taxpayers and beneficiaries will open so wide that our government will not be able to repair the financial damages.
She then goes on to say that she understands why Obamacare is so popular. This was lauded on Twitter like Hurley was taking some reasoned stance, saying something that Republicans need to hear.
Um, no. All she's saying is that she's one of the good unemployed people. She's not like those people who don't take personal responsibility. She's willing to forgo government assistance and spend her retirement savings. As if most unemployed people have 14 months worth of savings to burn through or as if using food stamps to feed your kids isn't responsible. Oh, hell, as if there's some difference in Tennessee between taxpayers and beneficiaries of government programs. I mean, Republicans know we're funded by state sales tax, right? Thus making all of us taxpayers?
Is it good enough? Can you take no government assistance, burn through your own savings, and thus prove that you, unlike those other losers, are deserving of people's sympathy and attention, that you are worth listening to?
Judging by the comments under her op-ed, no. The second comment is:
Julia... If you are really in search of work I will tell you what I told my own daughter. ACE Hardware is hiring... McDonald's is hiring..Lowe's Home Improvemnet store s are hiring as are many more local businesses.
It is called "living within while you are without".
Any of these places of business might be happy to have some one with your background, know how and expertise.
Go ahead, walk in and apply. It is better than complaining that "I have been unemployed for nearly fourteen months". That is if you reallly want a job.
And then, among the more worthwhile comments, are knocks on Hurley's brains and her old job as a waitress and lectures on her needing to get a job.
Julia, let me speak to you, woman to woman. You are one of those "irresponsible" people who mooches off taxpayers. Yes, yes, you are. It doesn't matter what your real-life situation is. It doesn't matter that you actually aren't taking the very help your tax dollars make available to you. You don't have a job. No one cares about the particulars of your situation. You are a part of the problem.
This is grossly unfair. But the thing I wish you understood is that it's not just unfair now that you're in a tight spot. It was unfair when you were riding high and it was some other woman who couldn't find a job, but who was too proud to ask for help, but you still voted for policies that made her life more difficult. It's unfair that you still think people end up without jobs or on unemployment because they're not responsible, because the government has made life too easy for them.
The lesson you should take from this isn't just that you can now understand why people like Obamacare. The lesson you should take from it is that, as unfair as it is to stereotype you as someone who's just not trying hard enough to do the right thing, it's not fair to stereotype anyone who's out of work that way.
You're not exceptional. You're in the same spot as a lot of other people, all of whom deserve the same sympathy you do.