My most recent post for GradHacker is a #gradschoolgalentines love letter to all the women who have helped me get where I am today!
I cannot remember the context, but sometime in high school, when I was sixteen, living in the suburbs, and hopelessly devoted (obsessed?) with the latest music, I was asked whether I prefer male or female singers. As I was answering–something about how men sang more interesting songs–it dawned on me: I was full of shit! How many female-led bands had I actually heard? When was the last time a radio station had played a song from an all-female band? How many songs by women could I name that were not about men or love? Until I could answer these questions, until I sought out bands that featured women prominently and changed to radio stations that were more inclusive, until I could understand the ridiculousness and the misogyny of the original question, I could not truly love female singers or female-led bands.
Being into female singers in the late nineties required work. I had to switch radio stations, go to random concerts, make different friends, and talk often to music shop employees. Nowadays I can more articulately explain the reasons behind the gender inequity in the music industry. But the fact remains that in order to fully appreciate the variety and mind-blowing badassness of women in music, you have to put in the leg work and seek them out.
Just like working for your music, in graduate school female friends are not necessarily easy to make or maintain, especially if you are a women in a male-dominated department. Towards the beginning of my second year as a history student in a Ph.D. program, I was overwhelmed, stressed out, lonely, and flailing about for focus and a purpose. I had a couple of great male friends, one of whom I am marrying later this year, but, since most of my professors and classmates were men, I often felt as though my problems were not all that important. And sharing these feelings just wasn’t a normal part of the history department’s culture…