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  1. octogalore
    octogalore February 21, 2009 at 3:16 pm |

    I really appreciate your tackling my question — thank you much!

    I recognize that the idea of economic disparity by gender didn’t really directly enter into a number of the discussions, and that in a volume with such breadth, it’s tough to cover everything.

    And Hanne makes a great point that any discussion of economic disparity between men and women is necessarily heterocentric.

    But to my mind that doesn’t make it invalid — just more relevant to hetero couples. In the way that rape is. You can have economic disparity, and sexual aggression, in same sex couples too — but it operates differently, and the book did concentrate more on the hetero analysis of rape. So from that perspective, discussing economic disparity, though it’s heterocentric, seems OK.

    As I noted in the original call for questions, while I take Thomas’ point that it can’t all be covered, I think it is impossible to go from a commodity to a performance model of sex without dismantling economic disparity. As long as there is a sense of an exchange — and women statistically do look at men as providers and both feel a sense of quid pro quo — it’s going to be really tough to move into an idea of performance. Quid pro quo is necessarily commodity based. So to me, and maybe others disagree, the issues are hopelessly entangled and a discussion of this issue as a central point is critical.

    Also, I found it interesting that in the discussion above, the issue of economic disparity by gender got interpreted as “some of the ideals I positied are certainly more accessible to people of greater economic privilege.” I mean, sure, the latter’s relevant, but it’s a whole separate issue. The fact that this segue happened concerns me — if the idea of contemplating our — on average — lesser economic privilege compared to men is so difficult that we must retreat to beating our breast about our own economic privilege (which is justified, but not relevant in a discussion about gendered disparity), how does this issue get discussed? There must be a place where we confront, head on, that although the intra-gender disparities are critical, we as women are still second class economic citizens, and sweeping that under the rug as “not enough time, space or relevance” isn’t just moving to the side a “different” issue but actively preventing us from adequately tackling the ones we are trying to focus on.

    Anyway — just one woman’s opinion. Thanks again for your mention of this, it was really neat to see it in the discussion.

  2. Heather
    Heather February 22, 2009 at 1:53 pm |

    I think that comment you quoted — “some of the ideals I posited are certainly more accessible to people of greater economic privilege” — was mine, octo, and I meant it in the context of teen relationships (which is what I was addressing in my piece about sexual debut in the book), where income is not shared and where the playing field tends to often be equal in a same-sex relationship in terms of economics, or based on what income parents have, rather than income disparity per the gender of those in the sexual relationship at hand.

    If that wound up being a conversation-stopping comment about economic disparities in relationship where they do exist, I’m seriously sorry it did.

  3. octogalore
    octogalore February 22, 2009 at 3:23 pm |

    No worries, Heather — I don’t think that stopped the conversation and your clarification makes sense.

    To clarify what I was saying — I wasn’t talking about economic disparities at the individual relationship level, per se, but at the societal level. There are so many cultural conventions in hetero couples (and this may affect same sex couples too but I am not qualified to opine on that) — eg, the man “taking” a woman on a vacation or out to dinner or a movie. The presents the man is expected to buy being more elaborate. The goes-without-saying assumption that the woman will do more childcare and/or housework, based on the goes-without-saying assumption that her salary will be easier to give up.

    This all adds up to assumptions within relationships, that the girl/woman will have some kind of financial benefit and the boy/man will make a financial expenditure, whether it’s lunch or a piece of jewelry. Even in feminist relationships, it often goes without saying that if someone needs to do something unrewarding and more office/facetime-intensive, it will be the guy. While this isn’t true in every relationship, it is more true than not on average. And this leads naturally to a commodity sense of things. Human nature may be mutable, but right now, there is a sense of quid pro quo. As long as men hold the quid of being more powerful (or potentially powerful) economic actors — well, we can make an educated guess what the quo will be.

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