The Job Slut: I’m A Job Slut, But I’m Not Easy

I’ve been courted by some pretty sleazy people in my days as a job slut. If you’ve ever looked at work freelance writing gigs on a job site, you know what I’m talking about. Some have tried to talk me into a low-paying gig with promises of priceless exposure. That’s great, except my landlord and cable company don’t accept payment in the form of exposure. Others have mentioned that if I devote just six months to a project, I can earn a speck above a pittance. If the new publication takes off, who knows? I might even get checks in a timely manner, too!

And now hear this: Just because a girl’s a job slut, doesn’t mean she should be easy.

In fact, I’d argue that job sluts should be more discerning. Getting past the idea of the steady 9-5 gig was one hurdle. Now jump over the one that says you can’t expect to get paid fairly when you’re just starting out or working for yourself. It’s not true.

Barely getting by sucks — it doesn’t matter if you’re overworked and underpaid from home on your own schedule. My landlord and cable company don’t care where I earned the money to pay my bills or what sweatpants I wore while I did it.

There are always going to be employers disrespectful of their full-time, part-time, or freelance workers. They’ll try to squeeze as much out of you for as little money as possible. Sometimes they even condescend and act like anyone can complete the task, so you should be grateful you were chosen.

You wouldn’t go out with someone who treated you like that, right? Don’t work for them, either.

Perhaps this is as futile as saying, “If we all band together, ladies, we can end the douchebag epidemic.” There’s always going to be an upstart or someone struggling who’ll accept less than he or she deserves. I mean this for anything — relationships, living situations, bad customer service from Gilt Groupe. But doing it sets a precedent. Ever try to get someone to unlearn something after going along with it the first time? It’s not easy.

I don’t want to break out the woo-woo, but we’re all connected. When enough hungry, hungry freelancers accept jobs writing 1,500 words for five dollars for some content farm, it’s bad for all of us.

It hurts people who want to get paid, which incidentally, includes you know, everyone.

It hurts people who have to read that bargain bin shit on the Internet.

It also keeps people from pursuing what they want to do. No skilled laborer should have to write 4,000 words to pay for a pizza. This is America, dammit!

In Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich pointed out that all work is skilled. This includes the tiring work she did as research for the book — waitressing and cleaning houses. It also includes the rest of us out there, job sluts or not. If we all stood up for ourselves and our talent and demanded to be compensated fairly, we could start a revolution. Or at least pay off our student loans while we still remember something we learned in college.

Am I being too naive? Is taking a crappy job just part of paying your dues? Have you done it?

Photo: Touchstone Pictures

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