Enough: The Women of the Pandemic Are Not Here For Your Bullshit

Tunisian women making medical masks after they agreed to keep working under quarantine. AFP photo. Front photo of nurses in Wuhan, China by Hector Retamal/AFP

The relentless insanity at the top goes on apace: Adam Schiff gets quote of the week for his response to Trump's false claims of absolute power to decide when the country will re-open with, "His power isn't absolute - but his incompetence is." Still, we continue to take hope and inspiration from the too-little-noted supremacy of so many women in so many roles facing off against the current apocalypse. They, too, start at the top, with the female leaders of Germany, Iceland, Belgium, Finland, Denmark and New Zealand notable among heads of state most effectively managing the coronavirus crisis. Perhaps most stellar has been New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Leading with science, she has been pro-active - locking down the country early - methodical - instituting a four-level alert system - forthright - warning constituents they would have to make sacrifices - and compassionate, ending a somber, eight minute televised statement with, “Please be strong, be kind, and unite against Covid-19.”
 
In this country, female politicians have similarly risen to the challenge, from "that woman in Michigan" - politely fierce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer - to Wisconsin's newly elected Supreme Court Judge Jill Karofsky, who beat a Trump-and-Scott-Walker right-winger by over 10 points thanks to stubborn, mask-wearing, GOP-hating voters who also ousted two more Walker judges (one by a 71% to 29% margin) and elected progressives to local posts across the state. And women are fighting and winning legal battles for the beleaguered right to choose, with multiple court rulings overturning how-low-can-we-go GOP efforts to block abortions as "non-essential procedures" under the cover of the pandemic. Recent victories in Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio and Alabama confirm the persistent argument of advocates that, "This has nothing to do with the current pandemic - it’s purely politics.” Thanks to other activists, Trump even just lost a battle to give white bread and other crap to kids for school lunches after a Maryland court vacated his rollback of nutrition standards.
 
Meanwhile, women make up over 70% of often under-paid, under-insured, under-protected workers on the front lines of the pandemic, from nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists and other healthcare workers to cleaning crews and grocery store clerks. On social media, heroic health workers have posted joyful videos of dancing to keep up their spirits; they've also posted photos of their faces scarred by masks during brutal, too-long shifts among the sick and dying - proof of a deadly lack of protective equipment that largely female, "righteously angry" nurses in "the fight for our lives" have been protesting. In New York City, nurses say they must sometimes wear one mask for 60 hours, or five 12-hour shifts. Sarah Dowd, a registered nurse protesting at under-funded, overwhelmed Harlem Hospital, describes a painful "kind of dancing a line" - between being there for patients they don't want to die alone and putting themselves at risk - that's part of an untenable, profit-driven health system. To change that system, she insisted, "This is not a time for people to be sitting on the sidelines. We need to be out here in it. We need to absolutely have our voices heard."
 
On their behalf, women journalists are trying to. As Trump's rallies/briefings have grown more unhinged, it's often the women in the room - many of color - who've called out his lies and bluster, and been attacked in return. When he assailed Yamiche Alcindor of PBS and ordered her to "be nice," she tweeted her defiance: "I’m not the first human being, woman, black person or journalist to be told that while doing a job. My take: Be steady. Stay focused. Remember your purpose. And, always press forward." This week, he was memorably challenged by C-Span's Kaitlin Collins: "You said when someone is president (their) authority is total. That is not true. Who told you that?" She pressed him, he lost it: Cue the surreal moment he pointed his chubby finger at her and commanded, "Enough." Wait, what? Tell it to straight-talking, consumer-protecting, whiteboard-calculating, PPE-tracking, medical-debt-relief-bill-writing California Rep. Katie Porter, who is really not here for it. A single mom and attorney who fought fraud during the financial crisis, she gives her kids a brutally cogent daily pandemic briefing - "Do this or you're all gonna die" - and, speaking for oh so many of us, offered a swooning Samantha Bee an equally ferocious warning to Trump and his evil cabal: “If you’re full of bullshit, I’m coming for ya.”
 
Katie Porter is a national treasure.pic.twitter.com/rHTTMd7zhx
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) April 10, 2020
 
 
Yamiche Alcindor fights for the mike and her voice. Photo by Stefani Reynolds/EPA
 
 
Tik Tok photo
 

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