Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Feminist for hire (30 days of blog day 1)

Hi world! I graduated!

And I had terrible hair the whole day!

Yes, a moment which was either two or five years in the making, depending on how you look at it, has finally come to pass. I'm a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Public Administration - or, as I prefer to think of it, a Spinster of Arts and a Mistress of Public Administration. A uniquely feminine educated entity conforming briefly to patriarchal standards of intelligence measurement, before flitting off to do whatever it is that educated feminines do with their time. Exquisitely coded cupcake blogs and subscriptions to the Persephone Books newsletter, here I come!

This is now a cupcake blog. Be very afraid.

Except not really, for anyone (wow it sounds great though doesn't it, the Englishwoman equivalent of the American Dream, if only...). What I actually have to do now - and what I actually want to do, I hasten to add - is find some sort of gainful employment, in order to become a Proper Adult in the Real World Regardless of Gender Or anything Like That. My reasons for wanting to do this boil down to two main points:

1) As I have discovered, it's actually quite nice to have money of one's own and not rely on Chinese government handouts and gifts from antecedents to get one through the month. You can buy nice stationery! You can drink more fancy alcohol without worrying about how much cash you need to keep back for the ride home! You can go out for breakfast and have the pancakes with the fruit in for 50p extra and do it more than once in a week! This is especially true now that the Chinese government are no longer in the equation, and getting handouts is going to involve going to the Job Centre.

2) If I spend some time in the real world, I am going to really appreciate escaping from it again in a few years time when I do my PhD.

I don't know who you are, Doctor Joy Browne, but someday you won't be the only Joy Doctor in town...

And so, I make the move from feminist student (the adjective is always important) to feminist job hunter. This, as always, complicates matters. It means that, on top of the usual unemployment pitfalls like "how important is it really to write these e-mails when I could just play XCom all evening" and "taking this EdX quantum mechanics course has nothing to do with my future but will make me a well rounded individual, I'll do it", I also have my difficult womanly brain pointing out to me such facts as:
  • CVs with women's names on the top tend to be perceived as less accomplished than CVs with men's names attached, even if the qualifications listed are exactly the same. At least, this has been rigorously tested in science faculties and there's anecdotal evidence for it in the "real world" too. Given that I'm looking for gender specialist development research jobs and there aren't exactly many male gender specialists my age, I probably don't have as much to worry about, but still it's annoying to speculate that I might already be a super high flying development executive if only I had been called "Adrien". At least I'm not a mother yet!
  • I probably won't get as much money as a man doing the same job as me. Yes, even though I'm in the "ridiculously privileged" category by every measure except gender (and weight, but catwalk modelling was never really an option in the first place...)
  • A "fact" rather than a fact: I'm not an expert at anything at all compared to anybody else, ever. For some reason, growing up in a world of condescending mansplainers and "you're only worthy if you're beautiful" standards for women means that most of us are slow to put ourselves forward as worth listening to on any subjects. There's a whole website set up to combat this in the UK.
  • Women don't look as naturally swag in business attire as men tend to, unless you get a really nice suit tailored and that costs a lot of money. Can't I find somewhere to work where I can continue to wear ridiculous summer dresses all year around?
Nothing on that list is insurmountable, of course. Except for the unswagness, that is a tragic fact of life. But the time I have to spend thinking about how patriarchy insidiously affects my own unimportant existence and agency is time that would be better spent thinking either about profound, all-encompassing feminist questions like how to overthrow global capitalist patriarchy, OR actually doing things that will lead to a job. Nobody said feminism would be easy!

Soon I will also be an angry stock photo career lady. It's good to have dreams!

There is nothing for it, dear reader. Time to harden up, read some Sheryl Sandberg, send out a million tailored CVs to the awesomest people of the world, and hope for the best! At least my Mum believes in me.

ATTENTION: This is day one of a self-imposed "blog every day for a month" challenge, designed to counteract my blogging inertia (brought on mostly by a crisis of expertise and partly by other people wanting me to write things and partly by... video games...) by proving to myself and others that I can be consistently prolific and interesting if I give myself permission to do it. Everything will probably be a fair bit shorter than what I used to write, and I will probably end up veering off-topic a few times. There may even be some fiction! Anyway, if you like my writing and have a lot of time on your hands then keep checking back all this month for plenty of profound wisdoms all day every day.