What Bennifer Means for Economic Recovery

If you’re like me, you have not been able to emotionally recover from the recent pictures of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, better known as “Bennifer,” together again. I had so many feelings about the Bennifer rekindling: a flood of nostalgia and worry, the comforting sense that nature is healing and the world is coming back together. Was this a sign? Had the Bennifer resurgence, like the Brood X cicadas, been a cyclical reminder that we will be getting back to normal, pre-pandemic life soon?  Regardless of your thoughts on getting back together with your ex (PSA: it’s never a good idea), I got to thinking about a few parts of our lives that won’t as easily make a Bennifer-esque, post-pandemic return.  

Love Don’t Cost a Thing…But Pandemics Do 

As much as some people are (incorrectly) trying to peddle the narrative that people just don’t want to work, we know that’s not true. What is true is that the economic havoc wreaked on women during the pandemic will cost the typical woman nearly $600,000 in income over their lifetime. More than 4.5 million women have been forced out of the workforce since the start of the pandemic and over 62.1 million women live in a household that has lost work wages since March 2020. Women will be recovering from this pandemic far after Ben and Jen have broken up again.  

We Need to Get Right With the Child Care Sector 

2020 showed us many things, namely how much child care workers are underpaid, underappreciated, and undervalued. It’s alarming—more alarming than Ben Affleck’s full phoenix back tattoo. While the American Rescue Plan Act invested historic levels of funding into the child care sector and temporarily expanded federal tax credits for child care, we still have A LOT of work to do. Child care workers are the backbone of our economy, it’s time we treat them like it.  

Let’s Get Loud About What Needs to Change 

Saying that living through a pandemic is hard is the understatement of the century. So many simple pleasures, beacons of joy, precious lives, and irreplaceable moments were taken from us, and we are no doubt in a rush to get back to “normal.” But maybe “normal” wasn’t as great as we thought it was. As schools start to open back up, we must continue to push for safe schools for every student; for survivors, for trans athletes, for students of color. As so many parts of the world are just beginning to pick up speed again, anti-abortion extremists haven’t let off the gas with dangerous bills that restrict access to necessary health care. And violence and blatant racist attacks on Asian Americans and Black people continue to be on the rise across the country.  
While Jen and Ben found comfort in going back to how things were before, we should take a careful look at what parts of “normal” we don’t need to run back to—sometimes things are better in theory than they are in practice. Lessons we should have learned from the disaster that was Gigli!