Women get sick sometimes.
I know this is surprising to many, because you don’t see “sick” women out in the world that often.
Because “sick” women know better than to let anyone know they are sick. Whether she has debilitating endometriosis, agonizing fibromyalgia, food poisoning, bipolar disorder, stage 1 breast cancer, migraine, or simple pneumonia and attendant dehydration, the average woman will still get herself dressed in the morning and head out to work. Maybe her work is caring for her own small children because her family can’t afford child care. Maybe her job is in software development, where her co-workers are 90% male and any sign of illness is mocked as “feminine weakness” in a high-pressure workplace. Maybe she works as a janitor in a hospital, and has to finish her shift so she gets enough hourly pay to cover her family’s grocery bill for the week. Maybe she’s a 68 year-old lifetime public servant, who just happens to be “on” 16 hours a day giving speeches, town halls, interviews with hostile media, fundraising, flying criss cross all over the country, who is running for President against a racist, sociopathic man with 1% of her qualifications and the bloated corpus of a bag of Cheetos at altitude.
That’s what women do. They work twice as hard to get half the credit. Hillary Clinton has been running for the past 30+ years just to get a place at the starting line that Trump has been pissing on since the day he was born. And now that she’s there, she’s not allowed to falter. She’s not allowed to slow down, or be sick. Because Donald Trump has been standing at that starting line, rested and ready. If he’s been sick, his convalescent bed has been right at that starting line, staffed by paid nurses and mail order brides.
I’m sure many of you have seen the viral video about the “Man Cold.” Google it if you haven’t; it’s hilarious. Yes, it mocks men for acting like helpless babies whenever they are afflicted with the tiniest sniffle or cough. No, “not all men” get Man Colds. But enough of them do that a viral video was made about it, and the message resonated. Because a lot of men get sick leave and use it to actually, you know, be sick, and no one judges them — as they shouldn’t! Women don’t use their sick leave to be sick. Women use their sick leave to take care of their sick kids or their sick parents, and everyone judges them. So when women are actually sick, they just keep working, so they can keep using that sick leave to take care of other people.
Women don’t have the luxury of acting like babies when they are sick, because they are expected to take care of the babies, and the employees, and the company, and the Senate, and the entirety of the USA. And if they don’t do it, they get all the blame and none of the credit for their work. For Hillary, it’s blame for Benghazi, but no credit for Lily Ledbetter. Blame for her shitty email server, but no credit for negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Anyway, this issue struck home for me, because I’ve been sick for the past year-ish? I don’t know. But I’ve been trying to hide it. Maybe you noticed I don’t respond to emails like I used to. My house is really messy. I’ve gained a lot of weight, which you have all been so kind not to mention. I cry alone in my car. I have severe, recurrent, unipolar depression, and have since I was 18 years old.
I have scars on my wrists, from previous episodes. But I get up every day, and sometimes have to answer my daughter’s questions about those scars before I drive her to school. Luckily, I am not running for the Presidency of the United States of America, but I am the president of my son’s preschool Board.
I’m really good at pretending I’m OK, even when I am sick. Because that’s what women do.