Women's Work

I worked today because I am not a millionaire, but I made coffee at home and did not patronize any stores because I am, again, not a millionaire, but also not destitute and I wanted to be a part of something. 

When I went to Zadie Smith’s talk and book signing, she was asked about her thoughts on our current racial politics, especially as it pertains to her central characters and novel themes. 

“I think the biggest issues all stem from class,” she said. 

Economic disparity is woven throughout all of our cultural issues, and women’s rights are no exception. 

In 2002, I worked as a sports reporter on a paid internship at the largest newspaper in the state. I wrote 13 articles, three of which made the front page of the section, one above the fold. I wore a lot of khakis and linen because it was 2002. I wore almost exclusively pants because I was the only female in the sports department. 

“Have you thought about which beat you’d want to cover?” My mentor asked me as we scanned the AP wire.

“Basketball is my favorite,” I said. 



“That’s the second-longest season,” he said. “That and baseball. You’d be away most of the year.”

I didn’t say anything. I hadn’t really thought about travel. Or picking a sport, to be honest. I would write on whichever subject anyone hired me to write. There isn’t a lot of money in journalism, and I had taken a leave of absence, and a pay cut, from restaurant/bar life to even be an intern.  

“You see her?” He pointed at the editor in chief, a woman whose office was across the hall from our open cubicles. “She’s forty-something and still single. This job takes a lot. If you want a family, you have to choose.” 

Set aside that this woman was young for her role, did impeccable work, had a suit my linen pants shriveled in front of, and otherwise embodied boss bitch status. 

I didn’t believe him, and I still don’t. 

I did, however, eventually choose to take guaranteed employment after college rather than continue to play the un-and-under-paid intern game because I wanted things like food and heat. 

The biggest issues all stem from class. If we are not empowered to change things without privilege, then we must use privilege to leverage change for others. At the very least, let’s come up with some more accessible options for proactive work. 

On NPR today they referenced some rallies happening around the city, which made me question for the bazillionth time just how much good my homemade coffee and self-imposed general isolation had contributed. 

You can’t just do things that make you feel like you’ve done things. 

Then I spent the evening watching The Bachelor and likely undid any sort of doing I imagined in the first place. But smashing the patriarchy isn’t a task you check off on a Wednesday, so let’s take this a piece at a time.