Competition: The Squeakquel*

A-Dub’s post of earlier this week has had me thinking about competition. One of the things I particularly dislike about the kind of rancorous competition she was talking about is the way the word “deserve” tends to get thrown about. We get competitive when someone gets something we think we “deserve.” People get competitive when we get something they think they “deserve.” All of which strikes me as a certain kind of entitlement. Particularly when we start talking about professional competition. When I got my job, a lot of people, on congratulating me, told me I deserved it. Yes and no. Yes, in that I had worked really hard to get my Ph.D & professionalize myself in ways that had an impact on my getting a job. No, in that I was not alone in this. I didn’t “deserve” this job any more than the other candidates or many of the other people who applied. I was lucky and in the right place at the right time (which is the sad reality of academic jobs). This language made me particularly uncomfortable as I had some very “deserving” friends who hadn’t gotten jobs yet. There are also some very “deserving” academics who will probably never get a job like I got (to say nothing of the many people who lead a much less privileged life than I, a straight, middle-class, able-bodied white woman). I didn’t do anything to deserve it any more or any less.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are certain things we all “deserve:” shelter, food, safety, etc. But these are rights, it seems to me. And rights are political. Rights demand action–both by those who want them and by those who have them. And, this Stylenation, is the long, tortuous segue to my outfit. Today I wore purple for this reason. Because LGBTQ youth deserve more then they currently get.
Purple tunic: Old Navy
Skirt: Eddie Bauer (from AGES ago)
Belt: New York & Co.
Gold Flats: Nine West (remixed many times)


Anyone else using their clothes to make a point today?
*My apologies for the ridiculous title. But I wanted a frivolous title in the face of a not so frivolous post.

22 thoughts on “Competition: The Squeakquel*

  1. I was with you in purple solidarity! The whole academic job market thing sucks. I think I deserve a tenure track job as much as anyone pretty much, but when there are a handful in my field in the US and Canada in a year the odds are just not good no matter how deserving I am. A lot of fantastic, rigorous scholars who are doing great research and are dynamic in the classroom just aren't going to get jobs because they don't exist. Unfortunately, this is made all the worse by the decline of tenure and the fact that only about 30% of academic jobs in the US are now tenure track. Administrators rightly or wrongly prefer their cheap labor. The unfortunate thing is that if you have a PhD you are largely considered overqualified for most anything else. Of course, you know all of this, but it makes me feel a little bit better to vent here.

  2. Anne: I've got no suggestions for dealing with that co-worker but this encounter says so much about why these sorts of campaigns continue to be important. That guy sounds like an ass.I think there's totally a difference there. Somehow the word "earned" doesn't rankle me as much (possibly I'm just being a semantic quibbler here!) as it seems to suggest less of the competitive edge of "deserve." I guess my problem with "deserve" is when it gets used to suggest a kind of competitive ranking against someone else. Thanks for more belt support! I actually bought it on an Anne inspired trip to NY & Co.!

  3. Sheila: Thanks! I only heard about the purple thing the night before otherwise I would have missed out too. Sorry to hear about being bullied as a teen.AftK: The market is definitely scary — I've got my fingers crossed for you! I actually only own one other purple item, so my options were relatively limited. SU: Thanks! I've got a spiffy new email account linked to my profile — I'd be honored to hear about the importance of purple at the SU Lair.

  4. Dude. Once again, you articulate angsty things in super-smart ways.Also, holy crap, I love this look on you! Obvy, jewel tones are your thing. But the belted purple tunic and slim skirt is super-nuclear-awesome, too. Finally, what'd you do to your poor knee? It's not still banged up from the summer, is it?

  5. I was with you with my purple tights on Wednesday. I was surprised to discover I didn't own more purple. I was also surprised that there were so few people on campus in purple on Wednesday. I'm hoping this is because the event was under-publicized and not because it was a conscious choice. I have to say that being on the other side of hiring is strange for many reasons (I'm on a hiring committee for an Americanist right now and just finished ranking candidates for a CLA), but desert never enters the discussion because, of course, there is no way to evaluate that. We are looking for the best candidate but that is difficult to define, especially when the candidates' research/teaching profiles are so similar, and similarly spectacular. And it is achingly difficult to discard candidates (often for obvious reasons) because of the knee-jerk empathy I have for candidates, any candidates, in this job market. Trying to get an academic job is hellacious. But I knew that it would be going in and was reminded every year I saw colleagues get beat up by the process. Good luck to all of you out there. I wish there were a colour I could wear for you, and if I thought it would do any good at all, I would wear it.And for the record, I didn't think I deserved my job when I got the offer. But no one did, including my supervisor who actually laughed in disbelief when I told her. She was a crappy supervisor.

  6. I was with you with my purple tights on Wednesday. I was surprised to discover I didn't own more purple. I was also surprised that there were so few people on campus in purple on Wednesday. I'm hoping this is because the event was under-publicized and not because it was a conscious choice. I have to say that being on the other side of hiring is strange for many reasons (I'm on a hiring committee for an Americanist right now and just finished ranking candidates for a CLA), but desert never enters the discussion because, of course, there is no way to evaluate that. We are looking for the best candidate but that is difficult to define, especially when the candidates' research/teaching profiles are so similar, and similarly spectacular. And it is achingly difficult to discard candidates (often for obvious reasons) because of the knee-jerk empathy I have for candidates, any candidates, in this job market. Trying to get an academic job is hellacious. But I knew that it would be going in and was reminded every year I saw colleagues get beat up by the process. Good luck to all of you out there. I wish there were a colour I could wear for you, and if I thought it would do any good at all, I would wear it.And for the record, I didn't think I deserved my job when I got the offer. But no one did, including my supervisor who actually laughed in disbelief when I told her. She was a crappy supervisor.

  7. You look amazing! I think this is your best look yet! Show off those legs, lady! You make me want to run out and buy a belt!I wore purple but I was home sick so the only people who got to see my purple support weren't really people but my three cats, the bird and a couple of turtles at the pond where I stopped to soak up some vitamin D before heading back inside to curl up under the covers and sleep.I wish all the best for the PhDs who are looking for jobs and getting tenure. Tenure = stability. Not being an academic I can't imagine how it feels. Hell, I'm a grad school drop out LOL. But I do hope that the right time, right place and lots of luck come to you all.

  8. Sheila: Thanks! I only heard about the purple thing the night before otherwise I would have missed out too. Sorry to hear about being bullied as a teen.AftK: The market is definitely scary — I've got my fingers crossed for you! I actually only own one other purple item, so my options were relatively limited. SU: Thanks! I've got a spiffy new email account linked to my profile — I'd be honored to hear about the importance of purple at the SU Lair.

  9. Hey E-JO, this look is awesome I you. I'm in complete agreement with all the comments. The belt, the purple, the gold flats, well done. As for purple, so close to home here at the SU Lair. So close. I can tell you about it in an email if you wish. SU out.

  10. Hey E-JO, this look is awesome I you. I'm in complete agreement with all the comments. The belt, the purple, the gold flats, well done. As for purple, so close to home here at the SU Lair. So close. I can tell you about it in an email if you wish. SU out.

  11. The academic job market scares me, though I think I had not realized that I will have made myself overqualified for jobs. Excuse me. I may have to go play in traffic now.But as for purple, go you! I discovered, in getting dressed yesterday, that I do not own purple, so I spent the whole day wearing a purple exercise headband around my wrist.

  12. A-Dubs & Baxter: Thanks! I really liked this outfit — especially since the top is one that, prior to buying the new belt, I've repeatedly almost donated it. The knee did indeed get banged up in exactly the same way as earlier again. Clearly I cannot walk on campus & chat at the same time.Kelly: So true!

  13. That was a great post. It's a really interesting notion, what we deserve and what we don't, as if there can be no mitigating factors, no luck, kindness or chance involved in getting something: you deserve it or you don't. In other news, you look wonderful in that royal purple blouse. The neckline and the colour highlights your pretty milky skin. The little glowing pumps are wonderful too. And I second the medical inquiry – how did you hurt your knee? Two bandaids suggests broken skin. Finally, I sigh – I didn't know about Purple Day or I would have dressed accordingly. It's such an important issue. It deserves (she said with narrowed challenging eyes) more recognition.

  14. Dude. Once again, you articulate angsty things in super-smart ways.Also, holy crap, I love this look on you! Obvy, jewel tones are your thing. But the belted purple tunic and slim skirt is super-nuclear-awesome, too. Finally, what'd you do to your poor knee? It's not still banged up from the summer, is it?

  15. Anne: I've got no suggestions for dealing with that co-worker but this encounter says so much about why these sorts of campaigns continue to be important. That guy sounds like an ass.I think there's totally a difference there. Somehow the word "earned" doesn't rankle me as much (possibly I'm just being a semantic quibbler here!) as it seems to suggest less of the competitive edge of "deserve." I guess my problem with "deserve" is when it gets used to suggest a kind of competitive ranking against someone else. Thanks for more belt support! I actually bought it on an Anne inspired trip to NY & Co.!

  16. I was totally unaware of wearing purple today too. One of my co-workers – a guy who is probably my dad's age, so I'm keeping in mind that he grew up in a different time – saw my pinkish sweater as purple, and called me out on it. Not like "hey, that's cool that you're against LBGT teens being bullied" but more along the lines of implying that I'm a lesbian. SIGH. I don't get into politics in the office so I told him I wore purple because I like the color and walked away, but I'm a) really annoyed that he thought that, even jokingly and b) wish I would have said something. But what can one say when trying to avoid being political?I wouldn't say that I deserved my job or any subsequent promotions that I've gotten along the way (some days I feel like no one deserves my job – like what kind of bad karma do I have that's made me stay there for 6 years now? UGH!), but I definitely worked hard to get where I am. There's a difference there, right?Also, I'm digging the belt on you. It's totally cute, and actually, I think I own a very similar wide black belt from NY & Co.

  17. LHdM: It's the job market time of year. If you can do anything other than rant constantly, you're a better person than I was. As you rightly note, the tenure-track jobs we all deserve are increasingly thin on the ground–and the non-academic jobs that might want to hire a Ph.D aren't exactly plentiful either. All this is why I feel slightly uncomfortable with the language of deserving when it was applied to me since I mostly felt just amazingly lucky, given the odds.Rad: Thanks! This is one of the first times I've worn a belt superfluously so I'm glad you like it! Oh, god, is it ever still warm here. It was in the high 80s today and quite humid. It'll probably be late November by the time it actually cools down here. Gah. Also, purple lady-pants (ha!) totally count in my books. I couldn't agree more about decent work — for me that emphatically falls into the category of rights. Cynthia: From what you're posting on your blog, you're totally earning that job you have now! And I'm glad to hear that you were able to leave a soul-killing one. This is the ugly secret of tenure-track jobs: just because you get one doesn't mean that it's going to be what you truly deserve.

  18. I ended up wearing purple completely by accident today, but had I known about the spirit day effort before I left my house, I would have worn purple on purpose.I'm in science, so the ratio of job-hunting Ph.Ds to available jobs may be a little better. And, I've gotten not one but two tenure track jobs, the first of which was a soul-killing horror that would not have been a blessing to be tenured in. Getting them involved a lot of luck and timing but I'm doing my best to deserve the great job that I have now that I'm in it.

  19. Hey, look at you totally rocking the belt! I really like this look on you. Purple is a great color on you and it goes so well with the black. Is it really that warm still where you are?I totally agree about the language of desert. I was one of the first in my class and group of friends to get a tenure track job, and definitely part of that was me, part of it was luck, but I don't feel like I deserved it. I definitely I am qualified for my job, and I think that we all as humans deserve decent work. But I don't think one person over another deserves a TT job. I was sad to find out that some people were attributing my job market success to my gender and race, but oh well, that's not really my problem.I didn't find out about spirit day until I reached the office, by my lady-pants were purple. Does that count?

  20. I was with you in purple solidarity! The whole academic job market thing sucks. I think I deserve a tenure track job as much as anyone pretty much, but when there are a handful in my field in the US and Canada in a year the odds are just not good no matter how deserving I am. A lot of fantastic, rigorous scholars who are doing great research and are dynamic in the classroom just aren't going to get jobs because they don't exist. Unfortunately, this is made all the worse by the decline of tenure and the fact that only about 30% of academic jobs in the US are now tenure track. Administrators rightly or wrongly prefer their cheap labor. The unfortunate thing is that if you have a PhD you are largely considered overqualified for most anything else. Of course, you know all of this, but it makes me feel a little bit better to vent here.

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