You fit into me / like a hook into an eye, says the Atwood poem: like oxfords under brown corduroy cuffs, like a Bic pen in the coil of an unsullied scribbler, like Labour Day and despair.
Isn’t September already hard enough, what with its foot-tapping demands to finalize course outlines, submit grant proposals, correct bookstore orders, outfit outgrown kids, sign up for yoga (definitely, this fall, for sure), finish that dissertation, polish your job letter, shelve your guilt along with the summer’s unfinished articles, feed yourself (and others), clothe yourself (and others), and somehow find the shovels and gloves again?
You fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook
an open eye.
So what would possess anyone to start a new blog in the already populous field of academic women’s commentary? Partly, the CERC debacle. When Canada created 19 extra-fancy endowed appointments in science, technology, health and medicine to attract the smartest brains to Canada and keep them here, guess how many of them went to women? All of them, you’re wondering? Not exactly. None of them. Not one. Aucune.
Fish hook to open eye.
But righteous feminist anger is not our only motivator. We want fast feminism, yes, but we also want to keep alive the other meaning of the hook-and-eye figure, the intimate sartorial metaphor for connecting things: ideas, experiences, questions and possibilities, bloggers and readers, audiences. hook and eye is both an intervention and an invitation. We write about the realities of being women working in the Canadian university system. We muse (and rave, and query, and wonder, and share, and occasionally rant) about everything from gender inequities and how tenure works to finding unfrumpy winter boots and managing life’s minutiae. This blog is about women, universities, and laundry.
Wait: don’t click away yet. Your eyes might be narrowing and your lips starting to purse in well-practiced skepticism: what exactly do we mean by “women working in the Canadian university system”? and who is this “we,” anyway? We take women in its broadest sense. The moment it becomes synonymous with ‘straight white middle-class chromosomal females’ is the moment we will have failed. Call us on it. We want this blog to speak to undergrads and emeritae, women at the G10 (no, G13 – no, G15?) universities, professors at big urban schools and rural campuses, women in pre-professional programs and graduate students in the core disciplines. We’re Canadian, so that’s our usual point of reference, but we sense that trends in the postsecondary sector (budget cuts, managerialism, corporatization, you name it) exceed national boundaries and often have specific, if unacknowledged, effects on women. If you’re one of them – if you’ve ever suspected there’s a connection between your gender and some newly mystifying aspect of your job – you’ll find hook and eye useful.
Conveniently, writing collaboratively builds in a range of perspectives. The three of us bloggers share a worrying commitment to punctuality and a reassuring addiction to wit, but that’s about it. We do not agree on everything; we do not write with a single institutional affiliation; and we sign our stuff. (We want you to, too.) One of us is an assistant professor on the brink of tenure, one of us is an assistant professor on a limited-term appointment, one of us is an associate dean. We live in Halifax, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Edmonton; we come from francophone Ontario, renegade Alberta and central Canada. We range in age from 31 to 44 and earned our PhDs in 1993, 2004 and 2008. One of us is a mom; one of us is a lesbian; at least two of us have tattoos.
We hope you find this blog irreverent and serious, both. We hope you see yourself reflected here. And we hope you’ll write for us. Seriously! Here’s the format: every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we post. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for guest bloggers. You can see everything you need to know about submitting entries at the “Contribute” tab above. In addition, we’ll have a monthly feature called “This Month in Sexism,” an anonymized tally of all the crappy things we’ve put up with as women. Then it’s back to the real stuff: feminist pedagogy, finding the right haircut, reading collective agreements, the burden of competence, the scourge slash opportunities of leadership culture, why smart classrooms are kind of dumb, keeping creativity alive, running into colleagues at the liquor store, the horror of the nonstipendiary postdoc phenom, and what we’re watching on TV.
As for the new semester? Bring it: hook and line.