• Mon, Jun 20 2011

The Job Slut: Let’s Stop Job Slut Shaming

No one draws a blank when asked, “What’s the worst job you ever had?” No one.

It’s an easy conversation. Even if you love what you do now, you’ve got a polished story about how bad one of your former jobs was.

If you’re a job slut, it’s harder to complain. I mean this in a formal sense, as you’re a freelancer without the benefits and clear-cut protections of a full-time worker. But I also mean in general. Mention the lack of a paid vacation or the ridiculous expense of insurance to some people, and they get huffy.

“Well, what do you expect?” they ask. “You chose to be a freelancer.”

Right. Thing is, we all choose what we do, whether it’s a traditional 9-5 job, pursuing a graduate degree, or marrying the first rich bastard who will have us. Why are some people so reluctant to legitimize the work of others?

I have to believe it comes from a lack of empathy and maybe a little jealousy. People who work a typical 9 to 5 job can’t always relate to people who make their own schedules. They don’t know what it’s like to wear sweatpants to work. (I’ll go on the record and tell you: amazing.) On a more fortunate note, they’re probably not as freaked out when they have a dental emergency.

In the world of feminism, which is to say, the world we all inhabit, there’s a lot of talk about “slut shaming.” To “slut shame” is to try to make a woman feel bad about her sexuality, particularly if she goes against the patriarchal expectations of how a woman should (or shouldn’t) approach sex.

You know what else needs our attention? Job slut shaming. Freelancers and other “untraditional” workers deserve the same benefits and respect as full-time employers. (And don’t even get me started on the workers – documented or not – who take cares of our homes, children, stores, restaurants, etc.)

We all deserve to get compensated fairly in a timely manner. We deserve the leeway to take sick days and vacation time, so we’re healthier and more productive. We deserve credit for our ideas and contributions. We deserve affordable healthcare options.

I’m not just talking as a freelancer to all my peeps in the cubicles. Independent contractors can be their own worst enemies. We’re afraid to speak up for ourselves sometimes. And have you seen the paperwork involved in joining Freelancers Union or setting up an IRA? Intimidating with a capital “I”.

But start small, like your next conversation about work. If someone gives you that “What do you expect, job slut?” reply, speak out. You pay taxes, too. And just because you might love what you do, doesn’t mean it’s not work.

If you’re on the other side of the conversation, kindly remember the benefits you have, even if you don’t really like your job. Think back to that one time you goofed off all day on AIM and no one was the wiser. Consider that everyone’s making ends meet somehow. Wherever you work, we could all benefit from a greater means to those ends.

Do you think job slut shaming exists?

Photo: Columbia Pictures

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