I’m back! I’ve spent the last week living out of a car and out of a tent, traveling with my husband and two visiting Austrian friends to some of the many amazing national parks and monuments this country has to offer. While the sights and hikes have been breathtaking, the outfits have definitely been not. Not to mention that I had no access to my laptop, phone, or electricity for the past nine days – bliss.
But now that I’m back, I’m fascinated by the dialogue that started last week just after my departure and I’d like to add my two cents: I too, like A., have only told a few people about this blog of ours (my husband, my parents, and exactly three friends – one here in the US, my Austrian friend I’ve just been traveling with, and one in Romania).
In fact, I was faced with an interesting dilemma towards the end of this past spring semester. An undergraduate student who I’ve come to know well and who was getting ready to begin graduate work this fall confided that she did not know how to dress for graduate school and that she needed help in developing a more professional look. Part of my wanted to yelp, ‘I have just the site for you! I blog about this almost daily!’ I felt like our units on proportions, color, teaching attire and countless others could express to her much more than I could say in a brief half hour conversation. But another – equally persuasive inner voice – hastened to warn me that she was still my student and perhaps would not be too thrilled to find out about her instructor’s style blog. In the end, I did not reveal my ‘secret project’ and probably was not able to answer her questions or provide her with too much help during our brief conversation. Although I do not equate time or attention spent on appearance with diminishing intellectual capabilities, I still feel acutely aware of society’s and fellow academics’ tendencies to do so and wanted to spare myself the potential judgement. Such is my dilemma – I know that the system is flawed and don’t ‘buy into it’, but in true Foucaultian fashion, I also know that I can not exist outside of that system.
On a related note – the question of engagement rings and wedding bands has come up in numerous comments and here is where I stand on that. T. and I opted for a non-diamond engagement ring for numerous reasons, and as a result, most people did not realise that I was engaged when seeing my ring finger. We are so trained to read certain symbols as carrying certain meanings that we often do not even consider the possibilities of alternate meanings or alternate symbols. But I did not choose a non-diamond ring as a way to hide or downplay my marital status in the interview room (and in fact now wear a very conspicuous wedding band inherited from my mother). While I may not be brave enough yet to freely share this project with others in my professional or personal life, I do not believe that I should ever hide or deny something like my partner or desire to have children from potential employers. I may be likely to downplay my interest in clothes and style, but I am much less inclined to do so with my family and personal priorities and believe that any work place that would not support my having a life outside of academia does not deserve the hard work and commitment I would put into serving that department. S.