Obama, McCain and Ageism

Despite being an Obama supporter, I criticised him for the sexist dogwhistles he used against Clinton, as he talked about her “periodically… feeling down”. Now he’s talking about McCain being “confused” and “angry”, which arguably are ageist dogwhistles. What do you think about these? I find myself wanting to say that when McCain gets facts wrong there’s nothing problematic in calling him “confused”, or that when he acts angry it’s fine to call him “angry”. But I worry that partisan loyalties may be muddying my thinking on this.

UK Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health

Stonewall’s report on this important topic is out. Here are their key recommendations to the NHS:

1. Understand lesbian health needs:
Only one in ten lesbian and bisexual women said that healthcare workers have given them information relevant to their health care needs.
2. Train staff:
Only three in ten lesbian and bisexual women said healthcare workers did not make inappropriate comments about their sexual orientation.
3. Don’t make assumptions:
Two in five lesbian and bisexual women said that in the last year healthcare workers had assumed they were heterosexual.
4. Explicit policies:
Only one in eleven say that their GP surgery displayed non-discriminatory policy.
5. Tell lesbians what they need to know:
Three quarters of lesbian and bisexual women think they are not at risk from sexually transmitted infections.
6. Improve monitoring:
One in ten lesbian and bisexual women stated that when they did come out to a healthcare worker they were either ignored, or the healthcare worker continued to assume they were heterosexual.
7. Increase visibility:
Half of young lesbian and bisexual women have self-harmed in the last year. Increased visibility of lesbian and bisexual women will help improve self-esteem and morale.
8. Make confidentiality policies clear:
One in eight lesbian and bisexual women are not sure what their GP’s policy is on confidentiality.
9. Make complaints procedures clear:
Half of lesbian and bisexual women have had a negative experience in the health sector in the last year.
10. Develop tailored services:
Only two per cent of lesbian and bisexual women have attended a service tailored towards their needs.

Lots here that seems to me of interest to those interested in issues at the intersection of politics and epistemology: the importance of not making false assumptions based on prevailing norms, the importance of actively working to facilitate communication on sensitive matters, the importance of actively combatting dangerous false beliefs, the importance of knowing what information is relevant. And yes, put in these terms this stuff is not just about lesbians and bisexuals. These are good general practices, but the particular case of lesbians and bisexuals helps to make clear their importance. (Thanks, Heg!)