blog reflections

As Jeremy noted in a private communication, we got more traffic in the last couple days than a run of ASR. As my first experience in blogland, it was fascinating to see the attributions made off site. It is clear that most of the traffic was generated by Kieran Healy’s extract of the “angry” paragraph and that most of the commentators on other sites never read the whole post. You would think that “I chose to be angry rather than accept defeat and adapt to my constraints” would have been a tip-off, but apparently it was not. Most of the traffic came from a metasite that characterized the post as bitter and more bitter. Very interesting. I felt like an idiot writing comments pointing out that I’m happily married and that I like my life, but it was hard not to. It is also interesting that a lot of the people assumed that my career is in the trash can because I expressed a sense of relative deprivation. The ones who do know who I am might have wondered what in the heck I was talking about, as I hardly lack prestige and honor. (As I pretty much “outed” myself in my first post to anyone who knows me or cared to figure it out, let me say that I’m using a pseudonym only because I’m doing politically sensitive work and it seems easier if this blog does not come up in a google search of my name.) If you are too junior to know yet, you will soon learn that most academics feel a sense of relative deprivation. It is part of the job. At least 50% of the senior academics I know have complained about being under-rewarded and under-appreciated, and I’m guessing that another 40% at least feel that way but are too polite to say so in public.

None of those who criticized my writing style recognized the genre, although I assume some of you must have the background to have spotted it, despite the attempt to put a sociological spin on the end. It is a clear example of the confession/testimony genre: I was lost but now I’m found, I was blind but now I see.

The work/home issue clearly hit a nerve with a lot of people, and it hit the nerve in different ways. I might write more later, I really should be getting off to class. But I wanted to mention what I only alluded to in the original essay. The stay at home moms suffered almost as much as I did when their husbands traveled. It is really hard to be alone with small children. I pitched in and helped out with their children a lot, too, even as they bailed me out when I was stuck. Single moms rely heavily on their friendship networks to deal with these stresses and so, it turns out, do stay at home moms, although I think the two networks are different, and as a married woman, I connected more easily with the other married women.

At some point I want to get back to Shamus’s point on the sociology of all this, but that will have to wait for the weekend.

Author: olderwoman

I'm a sociology professor but not only a sociology professor. I keep my name out of this blog because I don't want my name associated with it in a Google search. Although I never write anything in a public forum like a blog that I'd be ashamed to have associated with my name (and you shouldn't either), it is illegal for me to use my position as a public employee to advance my religious or political views, and the pseudonym helps to preserve the distinction between my public and private identities. The pseudonym also helps to protect the people I may write about in describing public or semi-public events I've been involved with. You can read about my academic work on my academic blog --Pam Oliver

9 thoughts on “blog reflections”

  1. I wanted to leave another comment on that post that said “the Crooked Timber guys can suck it!” but I was too polite to do so.

    Clearly, keeping women’s struggles with work and family hidden, painting a rosy image of motherhood as the ultimate fulfillment, and acting as if men with careers and kids have it the same as women with careers and kids is an important I-beam in the structure of gender inequality, and the Crooked Timber men don’t want you to shake it too much. If I were Kieran, I would be quickly defeated by the commenters over at CT. Fortunately, he is a much heartier intellectual than I am.

    Knowing who you are, and knowing that you are have high status in the discipline and are highly regarded in your field, made the post much richer for me. If even those who have a great deal of success in my world share these frustrations, then my frustrations as a junior scholar are not a sign of my own personal failings, but a fact of life. That helps a lot.

  2. It is sad when we aren’t allowed to voice our frustrations, anger and bitterness; it’s as if people want to deny that these emotions exist, at least for mothers and women. These discussions remind me of the stigma surrounding post-partum depression. Denial is dangerous.

  3. Not sure if this has been mentioned already but there’s a related article in (I think) the most recent issue of contexts …

  4. I was just amazed that people could read the same thing and get such wildly different things out of it!

    Welcome to almost any post on CT that has a gender angle.

  5. It is clear that most of the traffic was generated by Kieran Healy’s extract of the “angry” paragraph and that most of the commentators on other sites never read the whole post.

    One of the things that becomes clear after you do this for a bit is that, especially with topics like this one, the modal reader barely reads at all: not only do people typically not follow the link, but they also just skim the extract and spit back something canned. This can lead to the frustrating experience of seeing something intended to make a bit of progress on a topic, or see things from a new angle, serve instead as a staging ground for the same old rubbish.

    That said, one of the reasons I excerpted that bit at CT was to drive traffic over here, because the post was very much worth reading.

  6. Tina commented on the original post that she was so astonished initially that she couldn’t respond.

    I’m afraid I am one step further gone – I have read (stalked?) the legs of this so carefully and have had the most powerful gutteral reaction – I have so much to say that I have been completely unable to participate. It hits too close to home. In part I think, it makes me want to throw my life out there, to tell my story (of an pretenure woman with 2 small children at an R1, who adapted in fits), but at the same time, in reading the comments, that level of honesty would be a sacrifice from me, and to know it would be received as yours was is too much.

    But without that level of disclosure, my commenting would be like batting at a pinata — so many tries, so many directions, with so little impact.

    Still, I wanted to thank you for getting the conversation started, even if it did reveal a venom that is hard to digest.

  7. mom: One of the nice things about being tenured and middle-aged is that you can say things that less privileged people cannot say. Although I confess that I did not expect the reaction to be so widespread.

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