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06 November 2007


Jackie M.


I have a girlfriend who recently started a pretigious postdoc at a pretty intense/competitive institution and who has been doing the exact opposite for exactly the same reason: she feels vaguely like she's crossing-dressing in skirts. And she just doesn't have the mental fortitude to cope with that right now. As grad student she felt comfortable enough in her environment to occasionally play femme-y dress-up with her internal gender switches... but now that she's jumped into the shark tank, she's gone full time business casual butch.


I dress for class because I want my students to register me as Authority Figure right away--I'm still teaching freshman comp so they're SUPER ready to doubt. And I'm a grad student still, and you know what it's like to teach that way. I don't really want to spend time addressing their ideas that maybe composition doesn't matter and maybe I don't matter, I just want to..hmm. I don't even want to put out the energy to perform authority, I just want to, like, accessorize it. I wear dress pants and women's tailored button-front shirts and a smidge of jewelry to compensate for lack of makeup. You're right, though, it's meant to be invisible to them, to stop looking like "what she's wearing" and start looking like "the professor."

I do also feel like it's helpful to them to put them into "I'm going to learn something now" mode, but I *know* it's helpful to me. And I never wear skirts, I don't really know how.

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Susan Marie Groppi

  • Susan Marie Groppi is a historian and an editor, currently living in Berkeley, California.


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