Hey y’all! My name is Meg Pirie and I’m so excited to shamelessly get my blog on with such a wonderful publication.
My Shameless column’s primary focus is labour, especially as it pertains to gender. Why, you ask? Well, I’ve had a series of jobs that have varied widely (babysitter, tutor, gift wrapper, customer service representative, server, LEGO instructor at after school workshop … you name it). While the type and length of employment varied, 98% of this work has shared some or all of the following characteristics: the labour involved was gendered, the employment field itself could be likened to a female job ghetto, and the environment was exploitative. This journey began while working at a Customer Service desk in a local shopping centre. During a visit from some big wig from head office, I asked why we had no union. “Happy families don’t need unions,” was the response. My first thought was “Family? What family? You’re not my family!” Once this petulance subsided, I realized I had touched a nerve, and was both shocked and petrified at the power of this minor rebellion. While I didn’t yet have the vocabulary to identify what was going on, my interest in labour and its many faces was cemented.
I think this issue is so important for so many reasons, but especially because it is often regarded as a non-issue. Your first job? Sure, that’s a rite of passage. A side of garden-variety exploitation with that first job? Not so much. So often we suppress dissent for fear that nobody else feels the way we do. Making waves … “oh, that’s not my scene,” you think. Well, think again, my friend! We are all political agents, and an empowering step towards potential collective organization is beginning to see the ways in which we fit into larger systems of power and resistance.
Not only that, but grinding, emotionally demanding, under-appreciated labour is lonely. We become isolated units that can’t see our community for the trees. The performance of the happy server or caregiver or flight attendant is … just … exhausting. Honest, open dialogue with other people with similar lived labour experiences (maybe even co-workers!) is a validating step that could lead to demands for better work conditions, or even just a sense that there’s somebody out there who can relate.
Along with my musings concerning labour and gender, you can expect to read about reclaiming experiences from adolescence, politics, female voices in literature (especially Young Adult works), and the odd piece on feminist health issues.
That said, I can’t wait to get started on this new adventure!