Throw Your Hat Over the Wall

Although I’m irreverent, there is a phrase I often turn to when I contemplate ‘God’; it is ‘There are no atheists in foxholes’.  While I do not subscribe to any religion, I often think that there may come a time when the idea of a higher power may be the only thing that allows me to persevere in a time of hardship.

I picture myself starving in the wilderness, shaking my fist at the cold blue sky and shouting at the top of my lungs, “If you want to kill me THEN COME DOWN HERE AND DO IT YOURSELF MOTHERFUCKER!!!”

I would most certainly live out of spite.

So I keep my options open.

Certainty

There are things that are certain. However, there are people out there that believe that they do not exist. It is understandable how this came to be.  Some people have lived in the same place their whole lives.  Some people had or still have an incredibly tight-knit family to protect them from the harsh realities of the world.  And there are even a few that have the luxury of simply not caring.

There are numerous factors that play into denying the existence of an issue. Regardless, I can understand why some people have a difficult time perceiving or relating to an experience that they will likely never encounter.

For example, a 208 year old Swedish university conducted a study on heart attacks which analyzed data from 180,368 patients who had a heart attack between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2013.

This study concluded that significantly more women were dying from heart attacks than men.

Women are less likely to receive the same diagnostic tests, leading to them being 50% more likely to be initially misdiagnosed. Researchers also found that women were 34% less likely to receive procedures which clear blocked arteries, such as bypass surgery and stents, 24% less likely to be prescribed statins, which help to prevent a second heart attack, and 16% less likely to be given aspirin, which helps to prevent blood clots. This is despite guidelines suggesting all three treatments should be given to both genders.

The study found that when women did receive all the recommended treatments, the gap in mortality between the sexes decreased dramatically.

–  A synopsis by the World Heart Federation

This conclusion is true even in light of other diseases that afflict women or the likely hood that women will often dismiss the symptoms of a heart attack.  Furthermore, the data used in the analysis was from Sweden, which is ranked 5th in the world for gender equality in 2017 by the World Economic Forum.  This could easily lead you to believe that heart attack mortality for women in the US could actually be much higher.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  Therefore, one out of every four people you know will die from heart disease.  You will very likely end up being a single parent and/or your children’s opportunity to have a relationship with both grandparents is unlikely.  You will most certainly find yourself aggravated that you or a family member could go bankrupt for an emergency room visit for mom, sis, or grandma but you still need to advocate for them to ensure they get the correct treatment.  (What are you paying those doctors for anyway?)

This bias is not only found in medicine but also the US armed forces.

In 2015, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center published its Gender Integration Study. This study found that gender bias is the number one cause behind failure to integrate women into combat roles.

The Army should proceed with integrating women into previously closed combat arms MOS/units. To successfully integrate, the Army must address the following barriers: inconsistent enforcement of existing standards and perceptions of double standards; incidents of unprofessional behavior and indiscipline; fear of sexual harassment and assault; cultural stereotypes; and ignorance of current Army policy.

– From the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center’s Gender Integration Study via Women, Regardless: Understanding Gender Bias in U.S. Military Integration By Elizabeth M. Trobaugh

In light of this directive to integrate women, many Special Operations selection standards were changed – they increased their ruck weights and number of pull ups – not because they needed stronger candidates – but because they needed to be sure that women would not be able to pass the selection process.

Which is odd considering that Special Operations Command is so hard up for candidates right now that they will let some serious ethical violations and physical standards slide in order to keep their male graduates.*  In this regard, perhaps women have dodged a bullet (pun intended) by not participating in a community that is unable to follow basic military doctrine or their own standards.  Then again, moral ambiguity has never been a quality I find admirable so I’m biased.

[*Even so, the good news is that many units under Special Operations Command are so bloated and useless that the likely hood of any lack luster graduate getting a highly active assignment is slim at best.  Sadly, this also means that highly qualified candidates may end up on these useless teams as well.]

Even in light of this, some people will deny that sexism is real.  But, as a woman from the South, let me tell you, sexism is very much alive and well.  And some places are much worse off than others.

Advocate

As far as I know, there isn’t a new thing under the sun and when it comes to sexism, it seems like there isn’t much that can be done.  However, if you have a strong will and a desire to fight a Philistine giant then stick your neck out for the women in your life.  Advocating for a female friend or a loved one means more than winning an argument or correcting a wrong.  It means that you have their back and the future is molded by that support.

I am reminded of this from a new publication from the New York Time called ‘Overlooked

Obituary writing is more about life than death: the last word, a testament to a human contribution.

Yet who gets remembered — and how — inherently involves judgment. To look back at the obituary archives can, therefore, be a stark lesson in how society valued various achievements and achievers.

Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones.

Charlotte Brontë wrote “Jane Eyre”; Emily Warren Roebling oversaw construction of the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband fell ill; Madhubala transfixed Bollywood; Ida B. Wells campaigned against lynching. Yet all of their deaths went unremarked in our pages, until now.

-By AMISHA PADNANI and JESSICA BENNETT

In every instance of this publication you will find an incredible human being who had at least one person in their corner that advocated for them.

This fight isn’t about ultimate victory or making instantaneous changes.  It is the fight and the fight alone that matters.  You’ll likely find the most brutal aspect of this fight challenging and changing your own perceptions.

Or Not

But for those that still wish to eschew this then throw your hat over the wall and see where that belief gets you.

More often than not, you’ll despise the challenge and rather than living with the terms you’ve set for yourself – you’ll waste your time and energy desperately seeking to have other hats join your own.  It is a very sad thing to witness but where your hat goes you are obliged to follow.

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