Feminists at work, whether they are mothers or not, have yet to reconcile several conflicts related to class, race, and culture. Most conversations about women in the workplace fall along two lines: they are single and ruthless, or they are coupled and supported outside of corporate work by a partner who helps them tend to family life. I have a feeling that there are many more working feminists who get left out of the discussion, though I can't figure out why that is.
My friend and colleague Omar Gallaga's 2010 essay on the costs of presenting to people for free has stayed with me for a little while. The same is true for Courtney Martin's column about misconceptions about the costs of online feminism. They each reminded me that there's no such thing as free work.
A recent Catalyst survey of Fortune 500 companies found that in 2011, women accounted for 14.1% of executive officer positions. They are just 7.5% of top earners in those position, but there are apparently a lot of women being groomed for leadership in the "corporate pipeline."
Darnell Martin's I Like It Like That may push the boundaries of the Bechdel Test, but its insights into black Latina motherhood, sisterhood, and professional identity are fascinating, rare, and in need of recognition.
I did it for the money but it was also true that I enjoyed it. Like no job I'd had before, stripping took skills. Yes, it was physically strenuous, but it was not only physical. Interacting with customers required intelligence and personality. I was free to be myself—or, at least, a part of myself. Indeed, of all the jobs available to me at the time, there was no question: stripping was, by far and in many ways, the best. It had the best uniform. I could make my own hours. I liked to dance. I felt genuinely good at it. And then there was the money.
"Working as a dominatrix was empowering. I dressed exotically, did creative roleplay, and was worshipped—physically and psychologically—on a regular basis. It helped me cope with my other part-time job: receptionist."
Welcome to the H-Word, a series dedicated to evaluating, challenging, and re-presenting sex worker portrayals in the media from a feminist, pro-sex worker (though not necessarily pro-sex work) stance. If that seems contradictory or impossible, keep tuning in. Besides my perspective, this column will present first-person stories from individuals across the country and from all areas of the industry sharing a part of their story and describing their experiences. Sex workers speaking for themselves, about themselves?! It is not so radical an idea—why, straight white guys have been doing it since the beginning of time!
This is what reality television should be like. Made Here is a new web documentary series about work and life as a performance artist as told by a variety of artists living in New York City. Broken up into easily digestible video segments, the series goes beyond "Making It In The Big City" to explore the real-world challenges of space, family, and the impediments to creativity an artist faces.
Image: Pam Halpert from The Office, in front of her watercolors
The Office is a show that focuses on men–four out the five stars are male. Nonetheless, it's one of my very favorite shows, and I think it has strong, likable, interesting female characters. It's launched the career of Mindy Kaling, who writes for the show and plays the totally hilarious Kelly Kapoor. And it's got Pam Halpert (formerly Pam Beesley), whom I like quite a bit. Over the series, she has grown quite assertive, a admirable quality not usually rewarded in women. But her early independent ambition for art has been abandoned so that her professional identity can be attached to her husband Jim Halpert's.