After two weeks of struggling with some of the #reverb10 prompts, it was a relief to sign up for a new blog challenge and to find a prompt that spoke to me. I have been thinking about this question since attending the Women’s Centers Committee pre-conference at the National Women’s Studies Association annual convention. Amy Levine, founder of the UCSF Center for Gender Equity, received the WCC’s “Lifetime Achievement” award at this year’s pre-conference. In accepting the award, Amy noted that it is her role as director of the UCSF CGE that allowed her to live an authentic, integrated life. For women’s center folks, work is life and life is work — there is no split. While this can sometimes be exhausting — how often have I wished I could just go home and forget about work? — it is also an incredible privilege to be able to be one’s authentic self at work. Feminism is in my blood and I can’t imagine having to stifle that for 8 hours a day. It’s why I hesitate when people say “don’t you want to move up?” Well, maybe, but not if it means having to check my feminism at the door.
What’s sad, however, is the knowledge that, after 31 years, the USCF Center for Gender Equity is closing its doors at the end of 2010. While I have no doubt that Amy will find an opportunity that allows her to continue leading an authentic life, I worry that the crisis in higher education will close off opportunities for future women (and men) to lead lives of authenticity. Will universities continue to fund women’s centers as budgets stay tight? Who knows? I do know that I am grateful to have been able to integrate my work with my life for as long as I can and hope I get to continue to do so. Not just for me, but for the students we serve who will soon be looking to claim their places as feminists within the institutions they go to work for.
Note: This is my first post for #swinspires, the Give the Gift of Inspiration campaign hosted by She Writes. Between December 13 and 24, 10 She Writers who inspire *us* will share a writing prompt. Writing Prompt #1 is: “What inspires you to…live an authentic life?” It is cross-posted, as all of my swinspires posts will be, on my She Writes blog page.