October, 2011

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Media Sexism

Thanks to BitchFlicks, I knew when Missrepresentation premiered on the OWN network, and so for the first time I actually tuned-in to that channel. Yes, we have a big enough cable package to get OWN.  It is the one non-essential expense we’ve kept throughout our financial difficulties, because …well, we actually use it.  Since we never have the money to go out to eator to the movies, it really is the one piece of entertainment we get.  That, however, is an aside.

For me the importance of the film wasn’t that it said anything I didn’t already know, but that it said what needed to be said.  Earlier this month I gave a paper at a conference that talked about this same issue from a slightly different angle.  Missrepresentation focuses on how women are portrayed negatively in the media, which is an important place to begin this discussion.  While I want every one I know who has a child to watch this film, I also want them to read Enlightened Sexism by Susan J. Douglas.  Douglas discusses, not just the portrayal of women in media, but the specific moves the media has made to make such overt sexism a significant part of the media we see. In fact, without a frank discussion of the embedded feminism Douglas identifies in the media, it isn’t possible to get at the root of all the sexism.

New Responsibilities

My status at work has changed.  Instead of being a 10 month employee, who could really just focus on my program because that was all I really had time to do, I am – for this year – a 12 month employee.  What that means is I get to participate in a summer program, which I’ve heard nothing but complaints about for two years.  yay

Today I had my first meeting about this program with my supervisor, and director.   What became obvious to me during this meeting was – that although my involvement in this summer program had been pitched to me as a “helping out” people who were already doing this work – I am really going to be taking on a much larger leadership role than I expected, particularly in the long run.

I have the sinking feeling that my 2 month summer vacation is over.  If they can find the funding I think I’m going to be a 12 month employee for the foreseeable future, and that in a year, two-three at the latest, I’ll be running our end of this damned thing.

About the Title

Sur Le Seuil was the closest me and my Oxford French-English dictionary could come to translate “on the threshold.”  I figured I might as well put all my French classes to use.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….well, maybe not that long ago, I had a blog that was actually taking shape.  For me that means I’d started to have reader I didn’t know.  Well, that and I’d kind of found a mix between professional and personal for the content.  What I’d set up in the old place was semi-pseudonymous. All my friends, family, co-workers and I had psuedonyms, but if you knew me to begin with, or if you’d wanted to do any kind of detailed search, you could figure out who I was and what I was talking about.  The blog, and my pseudonym, were really tied to my graduate school experience, and in an effort to focus on the dissertation, I took it down and made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t start another until the dissertation was done.

Yeah, that didn’t really work.

The dissertation is still not done, but is, in my mind at least, much closer.  Why break such a petty promise to myself?  Well, it’s complicated.  What I learned in my year off from blogging is that as much as maintaining a space like this is a drain on my time, focus, and the limited shelf life of my wrists it is also a space that organizes my thoughts, strengthens my voice, and, most importantly, releases my stress.

Don’t worry it won’t be a space of unmitigated venting.  Often when something has my dander up, and I’m primed to write a snarky little post about it, just thinking about how to psudomize it up helps me to process it enough that I can either let it go, or find the bigger issue to talk about.

What does all of that have to do with the name of this blog?  Maybe not much, but it can help you anticipate the shape this space will develop.  ‘On the Threshold’ carries multiple meanings for me.  It is in a way a reflection of the work I do, and how I think about that work.  It also represents many aspects of my own life.  In a way, I’m on the threshold of having a phd, a career, making the shift from student to professional.  Almost every aspect of my life seems to be on the verge of something, so I figured why not let this space reflect that.

Learning and not learning my lesson

Life is ridiculously stressful right now.  Yes, that is a stupid statement, because really … When isn’t life stressful?

For a myriad of reasons I won’t list because it will just sound like whining, it seems like life has moved beyond the normal limit of stress, and into the patently ridiculous.  Honestly, all I can do about it is shake my head and chuckle bitterly.

A few years ago, I learned my lesson about stress the hard way, so I know that I should be managing this all a little better, but to be honest I’m kind of at a loss.  Too much is happening too fast, and finding a way to slow it down enough to even fit any sort of de-stressing activity into my day is impossible.  What I do know is I need to figure this out because my stress level is manifesting in distraction. My attention span is pretty non-existent at this point, and at least twice today I’ve opened a program only to stare at the screen wondering what it was I meant to do.

The .25 seconds it takes me to log into an account shouldn’t be long enough to make me forget what I was doing.  It’s definitely time to start ignoring myself, and really committing to some daily yoga practice.  Laying off the caffeine might help too, but who really thinks that is going to happen any time soon.

Missed Opportunities

Nearly everyone I know is going to a conference this week.  I’m pouting because I don’t get to go with them.

The conference only happens every two years, and this year it is at my undergraduate alma mater.  I’ve known for a while that I wouldn’t be able to go, because it is a small, but crazy expensive conference.  Today, however, the conference organizer emailed me to find out if I could step in to chair my panel.

I’ve never chaired a panel, and I would have loved the opportunity.  Now, there is one more thing I’m missing out on. Today, I felt a little like the “Nobody likes us” guys from Kids in the Hall.


Told myself no more blogging until the dissertation was done, but frankly it was just taking too damn long.  I couldn’t hold out any more. A girl needs a place to vent.

Well, it won’t all be venting.  It’s hard to say at the beginning what this will find its way across the threshold.  Perhaps a little bit of everything, and eventually something will become the focus.

Important decisions about things like identity, audience, and tone need to be made.  Not to leave you completely in the dark, I’m sure some cultural critique, food, and crochet will find a way into our subject matter.  However, for the inaugural post, I’ll keep it brief.