Between the busyness of this past week and the Internet going in and out, I’ve fallen a bit behind. Yet that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking.
Yesterday I met with my cousin who asked me to volunteer on a career panel for a Girl Scouts troupe. I was an active member Girl Scouts way back when so I was happy to help out even though I’m technically not a career-woman yet. The Girl Scouts ranged between the ages six and 10 and asked us four panelists about our career experiences and challenges. Their questions really made me think a lot and it’s possible that I learned more than the girls did.
One girl asked, what’s hardest about your job?
I answered, “The hours.” My cousin, a doctor, afterwards replied that it was losing a patient and seeing the disappointment and hurt in a patient’s family. That’s when I rethought my answer.
Working unpredictable hours as a journalist can be tough but what’s really hard is the human element, or often times, lack of human element in the job. It’s hard feeling the pressure to dehumanize people for the sake of a deadline or to rush someone into talking about a sensitive topic because the story needs to go out by 5pm. It’s hard earning “brownie points” for catching someone at their most vulnerable moment not because you can help them, but because you can now get something from them—a good quote. That’s what’s hard to grasp and I don’t know that it ever won’t be.
I’m a listener more than a talker so it’s painful not having the time or ability to connect with sources on a personal level and completely hear them out at times. In the past I have chosen not to approach people who I believe would have a touching story because I know my editor/producer/teacher would rush me to get certain quotes or certain expressions from them. That to me feels like exploitation and it’s not why I’m in this field. Everyone is more than just a source, they’re people.
It’s also hard to be neutral on everything. Hiding my opinion and voice on issues that I feel passionate about is really draining. Sometimes I worry if being a “neutral voice” is the best way to make an impact on this world.
Another girl asked, do you get treated differently than men?
In the world of journalism I have yet to experience gender discrimination but I have experienced it in my everyday life; it’s something I’m very passionate about.
I grew up as the only daughter in my family and it wasn’t easy—it still isn’t easy. Especially in my teenage years, I realized I was treated differently than my brothers. Sometimes my parents didn’t hide it, they’d just tell me “x” isn’t happening “because you’re a girl.” I understand that boys and girls are different and I believe that my parents were looking out for my best interest. Yet when a woman is told from the time she’s a girl that she can’t partake in the same privileges as men, it’s frustrating and angering. All I could think was, what if I made better grades than my brothers, did more community service than my brothers, and tried to take on more responsibility than my brothers? Whatever my brothers did I felt as though I had to work twice as hard to earn those same privileges—but it didn’t really work. No matter what I did right, there was always that one thing that would hold me back from certain things: being a girl. It felt like my gender was a burden.
I know why I received different limitations than my brothers but it doesn’t make the matter less frustrating. This issue goes outside the home for certain. Women often work twice as hard trying to gain respect but are still bogged down by stereotypes and social stigmas. We’re constantly sexualized, our maternal instinct is viewed as our kryptonite, and we’re often depicted as the weaker gender even though that couldn’t be further from the truth. I could go on and on and on about this into another post but I’ll just say that it’s something I’m set on fixing in society. So although I didn’t say all of this out loud, in my head the answer to this young girl was yes, I do get treated differently than men.
Welp, I didn’t mean for this post to be a downer! I’m really not down, these are just issues on my mind. On the flip side, my favorite part of journalism is when I have time to respectfully sit and talk with people about their lives and learn from them. There are many people who I not only interviewed but formed a relationship with, which is truly the best part. I also believe we’re in the most progressive time for women and I can’t wait to see the social changes that are bound to come.
I still have interviews to transcribe so I’m off. Tomorrow I get to attend the State of the Union Address! So excited! Updates to come.