"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

RBOC: Academic Awards, Old Acquaintances, Raver Fashion Then and Now

I've got nothing organized to say today, so here are some random bullets of crap that sum up the last few days:
  • On Friday, I came home to a letter informing me I had won an award for "Best Dissertation of 2010." The award is a modest and localized one, nothing too fancy. Nice to be recognized, of course. And it does mean something to me that my adviser -- once described by a colleague as someone "incapable of writing badly" -- nominated me. Good writing does matter. At least, it's something I still care about. But, really, where does either good writing or an award for "best dissertation" get you these days in academe? Original research and good writing perhaps used to take you places (er, places you'd want to go), but the 2009 winner of this award (ze defended in spring '09) has been on the market since the fall of '08. Ze worked at an on-campus administrative position for two years (after adjuncting for who knows how many while ABD) and finally got a tenure-track job that starts this coming fall. It's in a place I wouldn't move to. Ze has two children and a nonacademic spouse already gainfully employed here in Grad School CIty. Sounds like whether ze moves with or without hir family, things will be difficult. So, congratulations to me for winning the next "best dissertation" award? Yay for academic awards? Hooray for landing a job in a crappy location after 3 years on the market? (Gah, could I possibly be more cynical?)

  • On the way home from work yesterday, I ran into an old acquantaince I hadn't seen in a while. Ze was in my dissertation writing group a few years ago. Was further along on hir project than I was at the time, a good project I thought. Turned out ze had been observing how things were going on the market, got fed up with adjuncting and the prospect of doing it indefinitely, and "just walked away" three and a half chapters into a four-chapter dissertation. Ze is now working in an administrative position similar to mine.

  • My legs are almost no longer sore from going out dancing on Saturday night. I love dancing and used to go out a whole lot more (you'd think, given all the walking I do, that my legs wouldn't be sore at all, but I danced a lot -- and I think there are some different muscles you use). Peaches and I actually met at a rave lo (!) these many long years ago -- when most of the "kids" out dancing this past Saturday were still in diapers. Back in the day, people wore "phat pants," big, baggy things that lended a flowy motion to your "moves." Usually, guys and girls alike would wear their phat pants with a t-shirt or tank top. Sometimes the guys would take off their shirts. Sometimes the girls would wear half shirts or halters, but nothing too "sexxy." Wasn't really what the scene was about. Although people did sometimes wear outrageous costumes, they didn't involve involuntary flashing of various body parts on the dance floor. I'm not saying that phat pants were all that great. They were a trend, like any other (in hindsight, some people even observe that phat pants were, in fact, quite awful), but the whole "look" amounted to something like this:
(Via. I'm not gonna comment on the bat wings...)

Today, phat pants have been replaced by ultra-short tutus:

(Via, and this one's pretty tasteful, actually, as far as these things go.)

I was trying to find a picture of one that A) Didn't show anyone's face and B) wasn't so short and see-through that I would find it indecent to post on my blog. And what do you wear on top with a tutu? Well, a glow-in-the-dark strapless bra, or even pasties, of course! Yuck. And no, I'm not posting pictures of either, but people were wearing both Saturday night. I guess what I don't like is the turn towards "sexxy," particularly since it is only with female costume that this change has occurred (the guys still wear phat pants or just ordinary street clothes). I'm all for free expression, but trends aren't really about free expression. They're about conformity. Cultural expectations and norms, not individuals, largely determine what it means to "fit in." And I think it's kind of sad that "fitting in" for a lot of 18 or 19 year-old women today means going to a club wearing nothing on top but your bra and nothing on the bottom but a "skirt" that doesn't even cover your bottom (and, yes, let me reiterate, that tutu picture is conservative -- the more revealing ones show your bare nekkid a$$ -- that is, if your panties don't happen to cover it all the way). Phat pants may be grungy and unflattering, but they don't turn you into a sex object. Whatever happened to the "girl power" ethos of the 90s?

Well, I've never really been either a creator or serious follower of trends (though I do still have a pair of phat pants in the attic). I had fun dancing, and I'm too old to care what anyone thinks of what I wear.


  1. I still think phat pants / bell bottoms look cool, it's just a matter of taste.

    But yeah I'd rather not see other people's undies in real life. Ultimately I'd have to say that really any fashion choice is a matter of taste. Some fashion choices are even designed to offend, I think.

    Maybe the "girl power" ethos has morphed back into "free love"? Not necessarily a good thing.

  2. Oh, I totally still like phat pants. They're fun in their won way, but I don't think the costuming today is a return of free love. That scene (and I only know from hearsay -- I'm not THAT old!), as far as I understand, was never about objectification. Representatives of BOTH sexes taking off their clothes and rolling in the mud at Woodstock is not the same as LADIES ONLY wearing a very particular and corporate sex-industry inspired costume in order to "fit in." Maybe I've just become a cranky old bitch, but I wouldn't have dressed that way even when I was 20. I'd have gone for a variation, maybe, but there's no way I'd ever go out in public like that -- unless the boys were going to do it up, too, perhaps in nothing but florescent codpieces. And I don't see that happening anytime soon (except at a gay bar, maybe, but now do you see my point? Deliberate self-objectification among men is a different scenario.)

  3. I understood your point originally.

    I didn't really have much to add.

  4. But I want to go to a party with you wearing a florescent codpiece!! If you do, I'll come dressed like this.

    (then again, everyone would probably run screaming away from both of us.)