All The Dead Teachers Are Women

Like many others, I’ve been contemplating the universe in utter despair after the shooting in Connecticut last week. I’ve spent far too much time imagining those teachers in the last moments of their lives, in the schools where they taught. Since I read Columbine a few years ago, I know better than to believe the stories of heroism in the face of death that are already being accepted as fact. Horrible events lend themselves to myths that turn out not to be true in the end, no matter how badly we want them to be. Yet, I’m still hoping Victoria Soto’s last moments unfolded exactly as described, though it would be better of course if there were no story at all.

Against the backdrop of tales of women’s heroics, there are of course the anti-feminists who blame it all on the fact that no man was there to pull a Flight 92. Then there are the more thoughtful notes. Djuna’s comment on my last post is one of them. I am pasting it here without comment for now.

While it isn’t exactly the focus of your post the fact that you share an office with all women, implying that the majority of adjuncts you work with are women (?), seems significant to me. I can’t help but wonder if the majority of adjuncts in the US in general are women? Maybe you’ve posted before on this angle of the issue but I feel like it’s one that’s generally ignored. Not directly related to what you’ve written here at all, but it’s been perplexing reading the recent news stories about the horrific murder of 6 women teachers and 20 children in Connecticut and the angle the media has taken on the deaths of the women. Their murders seem to be reported as “sacrifices,” i.e., they sacrificed their lives to protect the lives of their children, and now this line is being used to argue against cutting jobs for teachers because they apparently lay down their lives for little children despite not getting paid very much or offered much in terms of respect for their labor. Perhaps all of this is completely unrelated but I can’t help but wonder at the connections between the adjunct labor issue and the patriarchal system that structures the way we measure the worth of women’s work (and their lives) in general.

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1 Response to All The Dead Teachers Are Women

  1. Djuna says:

    Thanks for re-posting my comment. I realize it wasn’t very well-written after a second reading. However, I stand by the sentiment. I guess there’s been some more acknowledgment in the media that all the adults murdered were women but it doesn’t seem to be a focus – nor does the theme of sacrifice seem to be changing…. In terms of women’s labor and the adjunct issue, I was recently re-reading the infamous article in The Chronicle from 6 May. It reports on the PhD and welfare but there’s a paragraph stating that most PhDs that are struggling are women with children. If one reads between the lines of some of these articles, the implication is that most adjuncts are women but as far as I can tell there doesn’t seem to be any clear data on this. As you’ve written before, part of the reason this problem probably continues is that teaching is framed as a “calling” and as a result our labor is exploited and under-valued. Are women more likely to be subjected to and manipulated by this notion of a “calling”? I don’t know. Here’s a link to another blog where similar questions about women and contingent faculty are being asked and no one seems to know the answer:
    Anyway, on that note… I hope you enjoy the winter break and holidays!

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