Monday, May 03, 2010

Two Unrelated Items

1. First, blogging the lost: Where, oh where, are the two books that are now overdue that I'd checked out through ILL? Did I return them? Did I take them to my office? Are they in a bag somewhere?

2. I am sick of when people, in a conversation about the crappy job situation in the humanities or reasons not to go to grad school in the humanities, trot out the "you know, that dummy who majored in English could have become a plumber/HVAC guy/mechanic/ etc. and would be making twice as much money blah blah blah" line. People either say this when they are anti-humanities (why wouldn't you get a degree in something that has value?) or when they are pro-humanities (why don't people value English professors as much as they value people who unclog toilets?! What is this world coming to?!). Why does this bug me? Well, first and foremost because I grew up knowing a lot of dudes in trades or unionized jobs (and we are talking about dudes here for the most part because all of these are highly masculinized professions) and the reality is that those people work really hard at those jobs in order to send their kids to college so their kids will not have to work in those sorts of jobs. If those jobs are so great, then why would people in them not want those jobs for their children? Second, it bugs me because it totally romanticizes these sort of trades as if there is no unemployment, no being laid off, no inequality, etc. My friend A.'s boyfriend is a pipe-fitter. In a union. Guess what, people? He just got a job after over a year of being unemployed. And because of his being in the union, he could not just go out and find a non-union job unless he wanted to give up all of his time clocked in the union, etc. I could tell you similar stories about my dad, my uncles, my grandfather - all guys in union sorts of jobs, in trade sorts of jobs, with no higher education. So you know what? The next time anybody trots out that example, I am, I warn you now, totally going to go ballistic on that person. I hereby declare that I think this is stupid and anti-intellectual rhetoric and that academics who resort to it should be ashamed of themselves.

6 comments:

Anastasia said...

I totally agree regarding the panacea of union jobs, for all the reasons you list.

we were also just observing a tile layer working on a friend's house and damn, it looked like backbreaking work. Someone observed that it's a young person's (who are we kidding: man's) profession. So we you get too old to break your back doing it then what?? And what about physical injury? You don't work, you don't get paid. And if you're chronically injured, you're in trouble.

My dad says he wishes he went to college because his back is totally shot now after years as a ditch digger and mechanic. Becoming an EMT was a step up, but it's still really physically demanding work and he can't do it anymore.

PhysioProf said...

I agree. And I take the broader view that it is total fucking bullshit for academic strivers to moan and groan because they can't get a tenure-track position. Life ain't fair, and tenure-track jobs are highly desirable. So don't go acting all surprised and fee-fee hurt because it turns out that there is massive competition to get those jobs.

Psycgirl said...

Perhaps I could make more money as a plumber, but I certainly wouldn't feel happy not pursuing my passion! (yes, that's all very blissful and ignorant...) but really, that is most of the bottom line of why I'm in social sciences

AcadeMama said...

Completely with you Crazy. My brother-in-law *did* make the brave choice to go find a job on his own after months of the union not being able to provide anything for him. His consequence? Now he has to pay back all the tuition the union fronted for him to get his electrician training and certification.

anumma.com said...

They're in a bag somewhere.

Doctor Pion said...

I concur. Go ballistic on them.

I'd start by asking them to list every hourly job they ever had! Few people who have been up to their ass in alligators draining a swamp will glorify "labor".