US women now live six years longer than men. American life expectancy is still dire | Arwa Mahdawi

US women’s lifespan lead over men is growing, in part due to the Covid pandemic and so-called ‘deaths of despair’. Photograph: nicolamargaret/Getty Images

US women’s lifespan lead over men is growing, in part due to the Covid pandemic and so-called ‘deaths of despair’. Photograph: nicolamargaret/Getty Images

US women now live six years longer than men. American life expectancy is still dire

Arwa Mahdawi

What Biden calls the ‘the most powerful nation in the history of the world’ is surprisingly bad at keeping its citizens alive

US women now live six years longer than men

“We’re the United States of America, for God’s sake,” Joe Biden scoffed to 60 Minutes last month after he was asked if the US was capable of funding Ukraine and Israel’s wars. “We’re the most powerful nation … in the history of the world. The history of the world.”

The most “powerful nation in the history of the world” may be very good at funding wars abroad but it’s less adept at looking after its own citizens. US life expectancy has declined dramatically in recent years: it’s now the shortest it’s been in nearly two decades. It’s particularly bad if you’re male: new research by Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and UC San Francisco has found that women in the US now outlive men by almost six years. The life expectancy gap between men and women has been widening since 2010 and is now the largest it’s been since 1996.

What’s causing this? If you asked the likes of Josh Hawley he’d probably point fingers at feminism or porn. The real answer, however, is the pandemic (men are more likely to die of Covid) and so-called “deaths of despair”: an increase in deaths from things like suicide, drugs and alcohol abuse.

While men may be dying in greater number than women from substance abuse it should be noted that women aren’t doing all that brilliantly either. Deaths relating to excessive alcohol consumption are soaring among women in the US – a recent analysis found that women’s alcohol-related mortality rate rose by 14.7%, as compared to 12.5% in men.

All of which to say: the US is in the grip of a healthcare and mental health crisis. It’s both a complex problem and a simple one. While the factors influencing the drop in life expectancy may be myriad and complex, the solution clearly lies in making America’s sick healthcare system more accessible and less inequitable. But while there is always plenty of money for wars, there never seems to be money for America to develop universal health coverage. We should all expect a lot more from the “most powerful nation in the history of the world”.

Women in England will be able to get contraception without a doctor’s visit

I hope you’re sitting down because I have shocking news: the UK government has done something sensible for once. Starting next month, women in England can get a free first prescription of the pill by visiting their local pharmacy. While there won’t be any health checks required for the mini-pill (which is progestogen-only), a pharmacist check-up will be required for the combined oestrogen and progestogen pill.

Ancient stone slab unearthed in Spain challenges gender stereotypes

The slab, discovered during an archaeological dig at a 3,000-year-old funerary complex in Spain, includes both “male” and “female” traits. “It combines traits of ‘headdress’ and ‘warrior’ types, showing that the social roles depicted by these standardized iconographies were more fluid than previously thought,” researchers said. In other words: gender fluidity is not a modern concept created by TikTok teens, it’s been around for thousands of years.

Florida teacher fired for using gender-neutral honorific ‘Mx’

The state’s so-called “don’t say gay” laws prohibits public school employees from sharing their pronouns or titles with students if they don’t align with their birth sex. “We never did this through all of human history until like, what, two weeks ago?” Governor Ron DeSantis said in reference to people using pronouns different from their assigned sex. I would tell him to go read a history book, but he’s probably burned or banned them all.

It’s Taylor Swift’s world and we’re all just living in it

Example #32,862 of Swift’s outsized influence? Latam Airlines, the largest carrier in South America, waived its change fees after the superstar had to reschedule a show in Buenos Aires due to chaotic weather.

Alabama woman with two uteruses is pregnant in both wombs

To top things off her due date is Christmas day. A Christmas miracle!

Dr Mary Ross Ellingson finally recognized for contributions to archaeology

Ellingson did groundbreaking work redefining the interpretation of ancient Greek figurines. Then her mentor essentially stole all her work and passed it off as his own. It took 90 years for his theft to be uncovered. Now the Library of Congress is finally acknowledging Ellingson’s contributions to archaeology and she is posthumously getting her due. You have to wonder how many more Dr Ellingsons there are out there.

Russia might label any LGBTQ+ activists as ‘extremist’

Later this month the country’s supreme court will examine a motion that would essentially criminalize any form of LGBTQ+ activism.

Anne Boyer resigns as poetry editor from New York Times magazine

The Pulitzer-winning poet and essayist has stepped down from her job at the New York Times with an incredible resignation letter opposing the ongoing bombing of Gaza. “Because our status quo is self-expression, sometimes the most effective mode of protest for artists is to refuse,” Boyer writes. “I can’t write about poetry amid the ‘reasonable’ tones of those who aim to acclimatize us to this unreasonable suffering [in Gaza]. No more ghoulish euphemisms. No more verbally sanitized hellscapes. No more warmongering lies.” Please do read the whole letter, as well as the letter from Arundhati Roy.

As in, zero, nada, none at all. Meanwhile Nature reports that “women make up just 16.7% of the Stem [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] faculty across 98 Indian universities and institutes … for comparison a 2019 study found that the public-health faculties at the 15 top-ranked universities in the world for the social sciences and public health – all in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada – were composed of between roughly 33% and 54% women.”

The week in pawtriarchy

If you’re someone who tends to pay attention to the top-rated tourist attractions in north-west Poland, you will have heard of Gacek. He’s a chubby little street cat who made international headlines after being voted the top tourist attraction in the city of Szczecin. Gacek (whose name apparently means long-eared bat in Polish) no longer lives in a box on the side of the street but has been adopted by a family. While he has gained a family, he has had to hang up his influencer hat. His Google Maps rating has disappeared and tourists visiting Szczecin with the hope of feeding Gacek a sausage will have to content themselves with looking at old castles instead.



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