From Teachng[sic] to Learn/Learning to Teach: Meditations on the Classroom

(New York: Peter Lang, 2002), pp. 126-128:


Each of the chapters of this book, so far, ends with the same gesture.  An echo resonates from Isaac Pennington, who speaks of our life as ³love, and peace, and tenderness,² to Luce Irigaray, describing "a style of loving relationships"; from Audre Lorde, on the hunger of loving ³easily,²  to Kaye and I on the work we do: ³A loving. An obsession.²  What¹s love got to do with it? 


In Gypsy Academics and Mother-Teachers: Gender, Contingent Labor, and Writing Instruction, Eileen Schell argues that an economic reality lies behind this ³mystified argument for the Œpedagogy of maternal love¹²: our willingness to work for lower wages than men (33, 24).  She quotes Redding Sugg¹s Motherteacher:  ³The first profession opened to women consisted of the sale of sexual love and was called prostitution;  the second . . . was a traffic in maternal love and was called pedagogy.²  (20) 


Schell debunks the ³destructive myth² of part-time work for ³psychic income,² a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that can function as part of one¹s compensation. She challenges the stereotype of the dabbling housewife, whose intellectual work is unconnected to her status as worker.  Not personal choices, Schell argues, but structural factors--³sex-role socialization, market demands, hiring practices, and sex-discrimination²--hold such women back from full-time careers.  At considerable price: a ³loss of control of one¹s working conditions, hence one¹s academic freedom² (36, 40-41, 49,119). 


This is me.  I am the bored housewife.  Working for pin money.  Not in control of the structures of my employment. The operative paradigm here, the template of value, is that of full-time work--which I have refused.


I am in the midst of lamenting, one afternoon, that I am left out of campus decision-making. Linda-Susan shakes her head:  ³I can¹t imagine what it must be like to go through the world as a white woman.²


And so I try to imagine, try to say: what IS it like, to be a woman who is white? And well-(enough)-to-do, with a husband who was-a-poet-when-I-married-him, but turned into a corporate lawyer?   The freedom, the ³incomparable privilege² of  ³irresponsibility²: not ³having² to work, not for money, but for the satisfaction of doing something that seems important.


Simone de Beauvoir denounces such a  position:  ³Free from troublesome burdens and cares . . .without ever being impressed with the necessity of taking charge of [our] own existence . . . . [This is] complicity . . . cowardice. . . .[we must] transcend our assigned role.² (The Second Sex 801-802)