Eighty One Cents on the Dollar: 19 Cent Clitoris?

Untitled“God, the planet earth is an awful place to be a woman,” I said as Andy brought me coffee in bed. “Except at our home,” I added.

I was under the covers reading a piece in the Guardian by Abigail Haworth about female genital mutilation. In the U.S., most women can rest assured that their daughters are safe from circumcision, yet we’re earning only 81 cents to every man’s dollar. Does that mean we’re paying a 19% tax for a starting chance at sexual wholeness?

There I go, pulling two disparate facts from the internet. What am I? Irrational? Is this crazy woman talk? Oh, I know, I’m an unmarried woman — I must be attempting to think with my libido again.

Earlier today, Andy played a recent Daily Show On Demand where John Stewart excerpted broadcasts of talking heads pointing out that Romney was the preferred candidate among married women. I was busy in the bathroom plucking hair from over my upper lip, so I didn’t see the bit, I only heard it. The spin was that married women voted out of concern for their children and the future of the country, whilst single women voted primarily to keep abortion legal. Stewart’s crew handled it well, of course — addressing the absurdity of the faulty logic without honoring it with an argument.

They handled it coolly, but I’m still angry. I’m striving to learn how to better articulate my feelings about all of the above.

I’m sure that gaining knowledge of feminist theory will help, but my education keeps getting interrupted by my current job demands. If I allowed myself to succumb to complete financial dependence on Andy, I could spend all my time learning how to be a better feminist.

It’s not an all or nothing situation, though. My goal is modest: I want to be able to identify ways I may be inaccurately viewing, judging, and thinking about women’s roles.

About a month ago, I read an excerpt from one of Andrea Dworkin’s essays. I found it inaccessible and got confused by my own emotional reactions. Her body of work is too vast for me to dive into casually.

I decided to find a more contemporary scholar to read — someone who has already processed not only Dworkin, but the full canon of feminist thought. I’ve decided that Deborah Siegel’s Sisterhood Interrupted is a better starting point than Dworkin. Andy picked it up for me at the library.

And now he’s doing the laundry, like he does every week. Our home is a pretty good place to be a woman.

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9 thoughts on “Eighty One Cents on the Dollar: 19 Cent Clitoris?

  1. Frankly, I find Dworkin pretty problematic, so you might be better off. And while the split between single and married women might be true…well, I guess I want it all. I want to be able to control my reproduction and I’m concerned that my daughter is able to as well. Perhaps, unlike many feminists, I just take a broad view of reproductive freedom: the ability to abort and the ability to have as many children as I want (without the judgment that inevitably comes with that in some circles) are both vital choices that affect all of our futures.

    P.S. I know plenty of mothers who’ve had abortions. I hate that dichotomy–like having a baby inevitably makes you pro-life.

  2. I’m a married woman. I have been a married woman for almost 20 years. I have two kids. I am firmly pro-choice. I did not support Romney, nor did many of the other married mothers I know. Although, I do have to admit that I vote out of concern for my children and my country. That’s exactly why I voted against Romney.

    I’ve read a lot of feminist theory. It was one of my areas in grad school, along with 20th century Women’s Lit. I also find Dworkin problematic. Thinking up some recommendations for you . . .

  3. While not the most accessible writer, I actually really responded to Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble.” Again, she is a VERY dense, academic writer, but her framing of gender as performance was ground-breaking for me back in the day.

  4. I just had my first gender-free instruction in a grad class. No, really. It was an internet course (Writing and Understanding Poetry) and the only information my teacher gave us about him/herself was, “Call me Chris” (???) I scoured Chris’ online entries all semester to see if he/she would drop an accidental clue about his/her gender. Not a single clue.

      1. Yes. And, I feel like the class as a whole regarded the experience with less gender-bias. The first week that we did analysis, people automatically assumed that the speaker in the poem was the same sex as the writer. But after Chris pointed out that many writers can (and do) write from a voice of the opposite sex very successfully, it seemed that my classmates and I gave a much wider berth in our interactions with the material (and each other0 in regards to sexual orientation and gender assignment. I liked it.

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