The internet is abuzz with backlash against The National Organization of Women's public stance against the proposed Bo-Tax. Judith Warner's December 3rd column on a New York Times blog debated the phenom of the backsliding of the women's movement which is having to to adjust to the realities of life in our culture. Warner proposed that we are entering into a period that could be called "adjustment feminism." Hmm... I propose we fast forward into something that could be called "reality humanism."
If history is any guide to the complexity of these issues, just think back to the early feminist movement with its call to "bra burning." As any woman who ever decided to go bra-less for any length of time can attest, it's a huge mistake! Gravity takes its toll, it might have it might have sounded good, but taken literally as people are wont to do, it's a course of action with low returns, literally.
As an actress who is 40-something, which is like 80-something in actress years, I submit, we're not taking this fight against age discrimination far enough. I would like to enlist NOW in my campaign against IMDB, which I feel has violated my professional right to under-report my age. It's a time-honored tradition in the entertainment industry to lie about one's age. Of course, this goes to the heart of the issue, as every job seeker knows, it's not just actresses, everyone's age can be found on the internet, so NOW's stance would be better characterized as supporting their members as they struggle against looksism not ageism. Sure, Cougar Town just got picked up for more episodes but it's not a stretch to say that part of the appeal is Courtney Cox's looks, which appear to have been picked up too.
The problem is, I don't think it's as simple as many would suggest. We're fighting nature here. Even the neo-natal intensive care nurses who cared for my son when he was born with a serious birth defect confided to me that they were sure he would receive the best care possible because he was "so cute," as even they were not immune to the natural prejudice to respond better to beauty. Employers, like the rest of us, unconsciously equate youth with health and no one wants to hire unhealthy people because that would raise a company's insurance rates. So looking young matters.
Which brings up another conundrum. Botox doesn't necessarily make you look any prettier or younger, just less wrinkled. Is it really advantageous in the job market to look unwrinkled? If that is truly the goal, one of the surest ways to less look unwrinkled is to gain weight, but fat people regularly make less money than their thinner peers and have increased health problems which help push up insurance premiums. How can you win?
Meanwhile, the part of this proposed tax scheme that would most make me furrow my brow if it weren't already filled with Botox is that the Bo-Tax is being touted as a way to help solve the health care budget crisis, presumably because a very small percentage of cosmetic procedures are covered under some insurance plans -- unfortunately, not mine. The problem remains: how can we afford the health care bill? Joy Behar suggested on her show the other day that if the church wants to affect government policy, referring to in particular, the Stupak Amendment, they should pay taxes. Does every single issue in America come back to health care costs? Maybe. The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl stated that the church opposed the recent legislation to legalize gay marriage in D.C. not because they would be under any obligation to perform same-sex weddings but because they would be required to provide health benefits for married same-sex couples.
Here's my vote: instead of Bo-Tax how about increasing the Plas-Tax. Americans spend more money on bottled water sold in plastic bottles, approximately 16 billion dollars last year, than on plastic surgery and Botox combined. According to CNN, 90% of those plastic bottles end up in our landfills. The processing and disposal of which alone costs more than the Bo-Tax would ostensibly bring in every year. Legislation that promotes detaching American's self worth from their consumption of designer water would not only be more profitable for the government, it would put more money in the average American's pocket. And it would be environmentally friendly, as it would serve as an incentive to break people of this expensive indulgence, and, even better for us backslider feminists, the Plas-Tax equally taxes both sexes. That's "reality humanism."