Becoming sick has made me look much more closely at how society treats and values women, especially when their health has been compromised. It has been a very disappointing revelation indeed.
Once again women are expected to work SO much harder to be valued anf have meaning once their health is affected and many have been stripped of their careers, children and relationships simply because they are not seen as having any value or abilities anymore. Even those that have nothing to do with physical strength.
Support groups are littered with the damaged self esteems of women from all over the world. Struggling and hurting simply because they don’t have the health they once did. Simply heart breaking.
I also recognise the part that the medical profession plays in down playing a lot of illnesses and diseases. I have witnessed, and been victim to, many doctors who will quickly dismiss pain and suffering as a mental weakness or illness if the sufferer happens to be a woman.
Doctors will label women with chronic illnesses as “mentally ill” and down play the terrible pain and debilitating symptoms as a way of silencing and masking the plight of women with Autoimmune and Chronic diseases. It’s disgraceful.
After centuries of sentencing women to mental institutions and medicating them with ‘anti depressants’ etc we have not come that far in the way we view women’s experience of diseases and chronic illnesses. Especially Autoimmune diseases.
For those chronically ill mothers, the need for support and help with child care is not as readily acknowledged as those working mothers. Many women are struggling to care for their children when they are already so very sick themselves.
Partners of women who are Chronically Ill do not receive the type of flexibility or support in the workforce that they need. A grown, middle aged woman who may need assistance with showering or feeding is incompressible to many people and employers, hence partners will struggle to find flexible working conditions which will allow for these circumstances and respite facilities are aimed towards the elderly or children… Not intended for women in their 20s/30s or 40s.
Social services take a dim and suspicious view of women who require assistance or aid due to illness and governments are targeting these groups to make it even harder to get benefits. Therefore if a woman does not have a partner who will stand by them during ill health then they can face being destitute and homeless for lack of aid or understanding.
This staggers belief when the medical facts clearly show that the majority of Autoimmune sufferers are indeed women (over 70%) and it affects the majority of women in their late 30s!!!!
Many women, including myself, have been labeled as attention seekers, complainers, malingerers, liars, undesirable, overly ‘sensitive’ and our illnesses have been seen as a weakness or flaw in our character!
How many people do you know would date or activity seek a female partner who has a chronic condition; let alone marry one? Our desirability as women flatlines if we become ill, due to no fault of our own. I know people who would rather become involved with a women with drug and alcohol problems than one with a medical condition! It truly staggers belief!!
Sadly, I believe that the burning of bras in the 60s did not signal the end of a battle or even a substantial victory in women’s health. My eyes have been forever opened upon the plight of the most marginalized and demonized group in society today; the Chroncially Ill woman.
To all you beautiful, talented, compassionate, intelligent, caring, strong , brave, creative, gifted, loving and supportive Chronic Angels out there please keep raising your heads and voices knowing you are worthy and important and let the rest of the world know we are not going to be conquered or broken.