Grollman writes on “passing up opportunities to pursue gender and sexuality studies for a more mainstream path.” Here’s a response for someone who didn’t.
Instead of just reposting this blog. I wanted to write a response. I did not pursue a mainstream path, given an undergraduate career trained by boomer-generation community organizers and their proteges, I was not completely sure I wanted to go to higher ed. I liked the idea of direct service, and advocacy, detoured because of blind outrage to systemic violence that threatened a supervisor in the middle of my undergraduate career. The PhD was for the mainstreaming of advocacy with 3 letters behind my name.
It made a difference. Even in the year I took time off because I was heartbroken by how the ivory tower reacted to the economic recession. Heartbroken because of the powerlessness of, as Grollman explains:
“the relatively small number of gender and/or women’s studies, racial and/or ethnic studies, Black and African American studies, Latinx studies, LGBT and queer studies, Asian and Asian American studies, Native American/American Indian/Indigenous studies, and disability studies programs [being treated as] unimportant in the academy. Where these programs exist, they are underfunded, underresourced, and understaffed.”
That’s what happened in 2008; that’s what’s happening in programs and departments across the country in 2016. As a doctoral student in 2008, I decided to take time off after completing course work and submitting my proposal. In 2016, after 4 years on the market, I finally have a job. I admitted to my current supervisor that I stayed and prioritized a part-time job in research because of how competitive it would make me. It’s not a choice folks from underrepresented communities–queer, brown, femme–can easily make. And it paid off, because I am teaching. I make a living wage. I work with desired student population.
I empathize with Grollman and I appreciate the vulnerability in their words. As someone who did not mainstream their graduate work, four years on the market reinforce Grollman’s claim on the cost. With regards to intellectual violence, the driving force behind Grollman’s post, questions stir. Questions about credit scores, quality of life, affordable health care, and systemic intellectual violence students often face before they arrive in my (gender studies) classroom.
Unlike my first semester teaching gender studies or composition, how do we disrupt complicity in the time crunch? with whom and where do we start? and, at this critical juncture of our political shift, how do we keep ourselves physically, emotionally and psychologically healthy enough to do the work that we know needs to be done?**
** formerly posted on renewedrelationship.wordpress.com