Notes to Half the Human Race
1. Women themselves participate in this erasure from history because they’ve been taught that their voices are irrelevant, their names unimportant. It’s still quite common for women who write pamphlets, newsletters, and editorial columns to not sign their name because they’ve been taught to be self-effacing and to refrain from anything “egotistical.” In fact, they’ve been taught to devalue their work, their talents, and their own selves. Above all, women have been taught that they do not matter.
2. It isn’t only women whose time is stolen: In most countries, girls are expected to start in on their unpaid laboring as early as they can walk, carry food or water, serve the men, look after the baby, or sweep the floors. In some countries, where education is given first to the boys, the daily labor performed by the girls is what allows the boys to go to school and keeps the girls illiterate.
3. This is one of twelve cartoons that were created specially for UN Women by three leading cartoonists from three major Indian newspapers to graphically show the current status of women in India and advocate for change. Using the slogan, “It’s time to change your attitude towards women,” Neelabh Banerjee (Times of India), Jayanto Banerjee (Hindustan Times), and Sudhir Tailang (Deccan Chronicle) contributed their cartoons as part of a campaign by UN Women and the National Commission for Women to create greater awareness about women’s status and promote women’s empowerment in India.
6. The gendered wage gap is not calculated for many countries, but even in Sweden—considered to be the most egalitarian for women—women earn 13% less than men for the same work. Overall across the globe, women earn approximately 20% less than men.
7. All of these wage statistics are based on full-time, annual earnings. If part-time, part-year, and temporary work were also included, the overall wage disparities would be even greater because women are more likely than men to hold these lower-paying jobs, partly by necessity in order to deal with family care and partly because employers are more likely to hire men to fill the full-time positions, while women are more likely to be the disposable workers.
9. Many of these cultures were called matrilocal because the males were required to move into the woman’s house after marriage. This really isn’t an indication of women’s equal or superior status, and in fact, there were a number of so-called matrilocal cultures which were quite patriarchal. However, a culture in which only women own or inherit property, or in which women are the primary decision-makers, are societies I’ve classified as matrisocial.
11. The terms “primitive” and “savage” were typical of Europeans’ notions of superiority, and so commonly used by whites to describe any non-European, that white scholars and scientists still use the terms as official designations of human civilizations prior to written history. Evelyn Reed was aware of the inherent racism of the terms, but did not substitute them. As she explained in her introduction, “The terms ‘savage’ and ‘primitive,’ often used in a derogatory, colonialist, or racist sense, are here used exclusively in a scientific way. ‘Savage’ is simply a designation for our earliest ancestors.”
15. “Amazon” is the term commonly used to refer to any female warrior. In fact, they were an ancient tribe of women who probably came from the steppes of Russia. According to the PBS show Secrets of the Dead, the first written reference to the “race of warrior women is found in Homer’s Iliad, probably written in the 8th or 7th century B.C. Homer’s Amazons, a race of fierce women who mated with vanquished male foes and kept only the female children they bore, were believed to occupy the area around the Black Sea.”
17. The twelve identified so far are: lesbian, homosexual male, bisexual, asexual, intersexual (hermaphrodite), cross-dresser, transgender, women who live as men (“fourth gender”), men who live as women (“third gender”), “gender-variant” (also called “changing ones”), heterosexual female, and heterosexual male.