One of the classes required for my B.A. degree was “Gender, Race, and Popular Culture” and I took it in my first semester of university. Like many American students, I spent a lot of time in a community college before transferring so I was ready to dive into the core classes of the degree.
You can’t really get away with talking about popular culture in the United States without talking about marriage and weddings and we spent several weeks essentially talking about how marriage was an antiquated and useless institution. In addition to this not sitting particularly well with me in a general sense, I was also preparing to get married at the end of the semester, so the discussion felt like a needless personal attack. This felt especially true to me when my professor would sigh and say, “I wish these young girls knew they were just a cog in the patriarchy when they changed their last name” (a decision I had made and talked about in class) before staring wistfully off into space.
This is an experience that I have not reflected on in some time. After close to 11 years, my ‘new’ name feels just as much a part of me as my old one. Because my spouse and I got married when we were quite young (22), I often think of it as my ‘adult’ name. However, I am talking about this experience today because the feeling came flooding back in after an encounter online and processing it through writing seems more productive than staying in my own head and obsessing over it.
I was recently editing a podcast and there was a little nugget of audio that was giving me some serious trouble. After spending way too long trying to fix it, I went to a Facebook group that I’m part of for women who edit podcasts. I had seen other members come to the group with similar issues and I felt confident that I would be supported. By and large, I was, and I appreciated the help! But at one point in the conversation, I mentioned that I was volunteering my time on this particular podcast for a variety of reasons. This comment attracted a whole other group of commenters discussing how I was, evidently, single-handedly destroying the ability of women to make a living editing podcasts for taking a potential paid client away from them (while it’s not my story to tell, I will say that this client could definitely not pay the industry standard for audio editing). Suddenly, I was back in university and the feeling that I was a “young girl” ruining things for everyone came flooding back.
This is what eleven years of reflection have taught me.
First, women are woefully underpaid in every field. As a white woman, I am closer to equality than my non-white counterparts. The prices you see on my website reflect a fair market value for the labor I put into your show.
Second, the stories I want to help tell are from people who inhabit space that is significantly less privileged than the space I inhabit. My willingness to negotiate comes from this awareness.
Third, capitalism is generally garbage. The fact that we live in a society that says the work we do is only valuable because a dollar amount can be assigned to it is ridiculous. Value outside currency can be created in every relationship ship, even a business one.