Here’s An Idea: Mandatory Man Insurance
“What’s on your mind, Kelly?”
Facebook gets existential and #deep with us every day. But its trademark question never felt more laughable as when it kept reappearing as I was typing and deleting and retyping and deleting — and retyping the deleted retyping of — my own #metoo status last week.
There was the version that talked about how my first #metoo moment happened at 15 at the hands of an adult man whom I’d trusted to drive me 10 minutes home. I did get home — it just happened to be hours later, and what’s a few lost hours between unequals? The real gut-punch of this version was the part where I admitted that, when I finally began talking about it years later, I would lie and say I was 14, because 14, I thought, somehow seemed a much more acceptable age to be assaulted at.
There was the version about how, in my experience, speaking up about anything at work that had to do with sexism or being a woman (that is to say, sexism), had only ever gotten me weird looks, subjected to sneaky retribution or shut out of meetings. (This is the part of the post where I tell you I was once called “a mouthy slut” by a man I’d just met in a bar in Flint, Michigan — meaning that I speak out a fair amount (that is to say, from time to time).) I work for myself now, go figure.
There was the version that simply thanked everyone who shared their #metoo experiences and their allies who vowed to help.
Then there was the angry version: the version that cried out for justice — and a psychotherapy refund. I played around with hashtags: #metoorefund, #metoocash, #showmetoothemoney.
The justice version of the post is the most me. Justice and fairness is what’s on my mind most of the time — blame my Libra-ness, I guess. Also blame my Libra-ness for this: In the end, I posted nothing. I wasn’t sure what my getting on the #metoo bandwagon would do.
Bandwagon?! That sounds dismissive!, you might be (rightly) thinking. I don’t mean that exactly. What I mean is that the #metoo movement is so powerful that we need to take the momentum and steer it, lest we end up heading ever hee-haw, gung-ho westward, Donner Party style. And I struggled in the moment to determine how I could help navigate the wagon rather than, er… eat it and its contents?
Anyway, what I know is the fact that in each and every gut-wrenching #metoo declaration, there’s not “just” an emotional cost — there’s a literal one, too. Pricey medical care for physical assaults. Moving and opportunity costs for domestic violence victims. Decades of therapy bills. Partial or non-existent maternity coverage. Litigation lawyers. Career advancements blocked /slash/ lost wages — on top of that pesky little 77-cents-on-the-dollar figure. And that’s, as they say, just the tip. Of the iceberg.
Off the top of my head, I’ve shelled out plenty of pretty, gender-specific, pennies for the following: oral contraception in the years it wasn’t covered by insurance, and likely won’t be again soon; the so-called “tampon tax”; Gardasil injections when I decided at age 26 I should protect myself from dudes’ willy-nilly spreading of HPV, even though the $600 vaccine was only covered for patients up to age 26; the cab fares when it felt “too late” at night or when I was wearing shoes I felt I couldn’t run in if necessary. See also: haircuts. See also: jeans. See also: the fact that this is by no means an exhaustive list, even if it is a privileged one.
Maybe the only good thing to come out of the election of President Cheeto (apologies to the respectable office of the snack food), is that, according to Emily’s List, the number of women interested in running for office increased by 1,000 percent(!) in the months afterward. “[It] isn’t a ripple — it’s a wave,” the org’s president Stephanie Schriock noted last spring.
Now, I’m not sure I have the constitution to run for office, nor do I think I’d make a very electable candidate (see: the “mouthy slut” designation above). But I am pretty sure I would make an effective campaign strategist (see: the “mouthy slut” designation above).
So listen up, future candidates. Here’s your platform: a, yes, mandated Man Insurance Policy that every male will have to take out on himself.
It will be easy to convince America’s denizens of the prudence of this course of action with a few simple points that we’ll go through now. At long last, you’ll tell your fellow citizens, with MIP, men will be able to quite literally pay for the crimes and misdemeanors that negatively affect our nation’s economy and continue to plunge us into crippling debt.
It’s true, you’ll say, appealing to their snowflake souls, that not every man is a bad hombre any more than any YouTube DIY-er has a bad ombre. But this, ladies and oh-so-gentle men, is exactly why an insurance policy will work! Low-risk individuals are necessary to mitigate the costly payouts created by high-risk individuals.
Once you are (obviously) elected, you may have trouble getting MIP — [note to self: HillaryCare?] — through a 99-percent-or-whatever-majority male Congress. But here’s where your legislative savvy created by a lifetime of compromises and bargains comes in: You’ll offer exceptions! Some particularly aggressive males will require what we’ll call “collision coverage” (shout out to one of my wisest advisors for that provision!), while other males who demonstrate a stretch of incident-free years will receive “good behavior” discounts.
You’ll face another likely hiccup when presenting your plan to our traditional privatized insurance company system. It will fight back. Even with low-risk individuals, the companies will cry, the risk of business-destroying payouts will be too great; they will be ruined! No matter, you will say — you’ll make the system state-run! Not state, as in Alabama. State as in somewhere cold and adorable, like Canada! Or Finland! (You’ll suddenly realize that cold and adorable climates, like Bernie’s beloved Vermont and not Mark’s temperate Menlo Park, have the tendency to incubate great socialist strides. You’ll make a note reminding yourself to suggest moving the nation’s capital to Wisconsin before the next election.)
But back to the bill: Even once you’ve moved MIP this far, thanks to the power of your foolproof arguments, your legislative proposal may require additional smoothing. Does the mandate for coverage extend only to, say, cisgender men? Are premiums higher for heterosexual men? Heterosexual white men? There are many factors to consider, so thank heavens for your template!: Tell anyone identifying as male that you, as someone identifying as female, will make the decision for them, without considering their point of view.
And if your penile, puerile opponents still protest, simply couch your message in language they’ll understand. Look them in the eye and flip the tables — literally, for effect — as you calmly state, “This time, I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”