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madamab's picture
Thread: 

A possible term for the Corrente glossary:

"Ovarian penalty."

Meaning: A penalty exacted by the patriarchy, or its enablers, on women merely for being women.

Usage example: "I refuse to support any health-related program activities unless the Ovarian penalties are removed."

Coiner: MadamaB in letter to Kirsten Gillibrand 2/22/10

Clever? Obscure? Time-wasting?

You decide!

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jeffroby's picture
Submitted by jeffroby on

Up there with glass ceiling.

Submitted by ralphb on

It's such a great term for what's wrong with the whole mess.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

don't much care for it.

Submitted by Anne on

It makes me picture a woman as an illustration in a medical book, as if she is just to be identified by her parts; I feel like I am so much more than that - having kids, being pregnant, gave me a totally new awareness of my power and it is so much more than being about ovaries.

What we are fighting for is reproductive freedom, and I think it's important to keep that concept front and center, and not reduce it to a clever catchphrase.

Submitted by lambert on

... it's a more vivid way of saying "patriarchal rent."

Also, as a formula, there are other penalties as well.

Submitted by Anne on

at all from your use of the term, especially as it was used in a letter which didn't seem to be written to mock, but to request support for Medicare For All.

And I guess I never found it funny that people think of us in terms of our parts, and engaging in what amounts to playground taunting doesn't seem to do much to advance the cause of reproductive rights/freedom.

To each his own, though.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

There are plenty of people who identify as women, who are just as entitled to bodily autonomy, who don't have ovaries.

I really hate to shoot it down, because I do think it's cute. I think maybe instead something like "Ladypart penalty"?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I could work with that. I often use the term "scary ladyparts" myself.

Consider it amended!

tarheel-leftist85's picture
Submitted by tarheel-leftist85 on

The latter one especially because it marries the concepts of reproductive slavery and vampiric capitalism.

So are generational flame wars and misogyny going to be the slice and dice strategy for Dems now? Makes me think that they want frat boys as their core constituency. Also, the Southern bashing...it's almost as if they're playing their part in finishing Nixon's Southern strategy. While it may have been a partisan thing to begin with (Republicans cracking the Democratic juggernaut), it was also a strategy to (1) culturalize economic issues (e.g., vilifying welfare*) and (2) preclude any sort of alliance among the non-plutocracy in realization of shared economic interests. Even though--or precisely because--this sort of thing is detrimental to Democratic electoral dominance, BOTH parties can extract votes from the public. With close elections, both reach a sort of detente where the plutocrats give generously and (i'm guessing) optimize the chances for members of both parties to receive lobbyist or board member sinecures upon retirement, defeat, or (very unlikely) criminal indictments.

Sorry, i digress, but highly recommended as an addition to our lexicon!

* (Not so) ironically, there seems to be relationship b/w the vilification of welfare and the erosion of everyone in, no one out sorts of welfare. If that isn't bipartisan choreography, i don't know what is.

Mytwords's picture
Submitted by Mytwords on

But, but, but...if there's no ovarian penalty, then - OMG! - I lose my testicular benefits!

Submitted by lambert on

What an interesting thread. As a writer -- OK, as a propagandist -- what I like about "Ovarian Penalty" is that it's vivid and concise. And the parallel between "Ovarian Penalty" and "Testicular Benefits" is almost too delicious to resist. And the pseudo-neutral precision of the anatomical references makes these two terms wonderful to write. (And, as I say, they both speak to the collection and distribution of patriarchal rent.) Rhetorically, "ladyparts" doesn't have the precision and punch, and so far as I know, doesn't have counterparts elsewhere, so it's a riff that can be played only in one context.*

So, my thought is that while Aeryl's point is well taken, we simply lose too much through anatomical literalism; this is, after all, synecdoche. In the definitions for both "Ovarian Penalty" and "Testicular Benefits" (if that's a good idea) we might add language to the effect that the "parts" are presumed to be present in the vast number of cases. All successfully propagated memes are compromises, and not all meaning can be packed into a single term. Creating and propagating a clever catchphrase is not like writing an essay; in fact, I'd argue, it's harder.

NOTE * Unlike, say, Melanin Penalty.

Submitted by Anne on

sounds like a surgical procedure to me...and maybe that's what you're going for?

I can picture an advocacy ad that starts with a shot of a woman in a doctor's waiting room, looking uncomfortable; scene moves to inside a woman's abdominal cavity, with the likes of Bart Stupak and Henry Hyde and other notoriously anti-choice proponents clinging to the ovaries, attached to the uterus, and perhaps calling out to each other about "don't let go, Bart! We have to keep control! Henry - watch out for uterine incursions!"; cut back to the waiting room, where the woman is chatting with another patient who asks, "So, what are you here for?" The woman responds with a grimace, "Oh, I'm just here to get these damn ovarian penalties removed."

That works for me as a powerful image of what you perhaps really mean by the phrase; I'm just not sure I see it in a letter to your Senator, out of the blue, and without any context.

The problem is that the anti-choice crowd could see an ad like that as saying, "Oh, sure, this woman wants these men out of her business so she can kill life," and they can build on that ad, and show an embryo in that uterus, with Stupak and Hyde, et. al. there to protect it from the evil woman who is in the doctor's office to get an abortion.

So, "ovarian penalty" is a term that is easily turned around to "Ovarian protection," but I suppose that's true of any shorthand phrase.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Anne, what a wonderful idea for a pro-choice commercial.

The mind reels with possibilities! I actually flashed on Scotty from Star Trek:

"We're losing her, Captain! We need more power!"

The thing is that "ovarian penalty" is not just about reproduction. I said it to my husband and he said the meaning was quite clear immediately. It's all about being a woman in the patriarchy, which includes pursuing equal rights, equal pay - hell, just equality in every way.

Yeah, I was thinking about it, and I prefer "ovarian penalty" myself. It's really not meant to be literal.