Wage-gap debate questioner Katherine Fenton “absolutely not” a feminist

The 24-year-old teacher who asked about workplace inequality during the debate claims she's still undecided

Topics: 2012 Elections, 2012 Presidential Debates, Wage Gap, ,

Wage-gap debate questioner Katherine Fenton "absolutely not" a feminist

It took roughly 30 seconds after she asked about the wage gap last night for the right to start calling Katherine Fenton a left-wing conspiracy, vainly trying to connect her to someone who worked for Code Pink, calling her a “feminazi,” and a “party girl.” Reached by Salon at her home in Floral Park, N.Y., today, Fenton confirmed that she’s no plant. She is, she says, a 24-year-old pre-K teacher and an undecided voter. Still undecided, in fact. And not a feminist.

Here’s what Fenton asked last night: “In what new ways do you intend to rectify inequalities in the workplace? Specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn.”

So why is she undecided? Talking to Fenton today was an exercise in the frustrations and incoherences of such voters. She says she approves of Obama’s health insurance reform, since it’s allowed her to stay on her parents’ insurance. “That’s been really critical, especially for me,” she said. “I’ve had some medical things that I’ve had to get tested and had to go to the doctor fairly often.”

But she also says she’s worried about the deficit: “$16 trillion in debt is a huge figure.” And she’s torn on the question of whether she’s better off than four years ago. “While I’m feeling healthy and safe and comfortable, I can’t really feel the same about our nation.”  And she claims to be dissatisfied with the answer she got from both candidates: “I asked for new solutions, not what they’ve already done.”

Despite asking a question that raised the hackles of the anti-feminist brigade, Fenton was vehement when I asked her if she’s a feminist. “Absolutely not,” she said. “I’m a 24-year-old woman that lives in the United States and feels like I should be treated the same as anyone else. That makes me a normal human being.”



I asked her to clarify how she defined feminism, given that she’d told me she was passionate about “women’s equality in the workforce” and had said, “I’m very protective of my reproductive rights.” Fenton said, “I’m not only concerned with women.”

Did she think that one candidate would be better for women? “That’s hard to say,” she said. “I can only speculate, but if I had to guess, gosh, my gut says President Obama. Based on the fact that he has said, I know he has two daughters so the cause is close to him. Governor Romney has granddaughters, that might help.” She thought more. On the wage gap, she said vaguely, “I think people around the president making choices would be more more susceptible to action on that. I don’t think Mitt Romney’s people might be as concerned as they ought to be.”

Irin Carmon

Irin Carmon is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @irincarmon or email her at icarmon@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>