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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cleaning the Table

On Monday, a student in the Graduate Course noticed that the table in the Seminar Room in the Department was quite dirty. It probably hadn't been cleaned since we moved into the new wing of the building in 2007. We have our department meetings in there too, virtually all the Graduate courses, and some dissertation defenses. The room gets used a lot. So before class on Wed., I brought some lemon pledge from my office and some paper towels from the bathroom and cleaned that table. The students who were arriving began to help me, of course, they weren't going to watch me without pitching in, so when the student who had earlier noticed the condition of the table arrived a few minutes later, she said "They cleaned the table!" (Yes, they did.) The table will be relatively clean at the beginning of the Fall semester, because the room isn't much used in the Summer.

This is not a metaphor for something else, but just a suggestion that you can have a clean seminar-room table if you want.


Andrew Shields said...

Well, it is a figure for how to approach relative simple obstacles to working well: take care of them.

Of course, it is also important not to let such "taking care" get in the way of doing the "real" work.

Clarissa said...

I'd honestly rather sit in the midst of a complete pigsty rather than let colleagues and students see me with cleaning supplies. It is hard as it is for people not to expect that since one is a woman, one is in charge of cleaning the table after meetings, parties, etc.

Our Dean sent out a collective message before Christmas, inviting all faculty members to a Christmas party. The email ended as follows, "And our female faculty members could cook some delicious dishes for all of us." That put an end to any kind of cooking that I might have ever done for my colleagues.

Jonathan said...

I admit I wouldn't have done this if I were a woman. It's a male privilege to clean the table (sorry, I know you hate the word privilege, as I do most of the time). : ). It worked precisely because it is not my job to clean the table.

Andrew Shields said...

It is appalling that there are still men out there who make comments like the one Clarissa cited!

And it is also appalling that men like that don't even realize for a second how appalling such a comment is, and that they will react completely huffily to anyone who points out that there might be something even slightly wrong with such a comment.

Clarissa said...

Many of our male colleagues were also quite offended with this comment. Some of them love to cook and have been cooking for our parties for years. Now suddenly they were told that "men need not apply."

It's just offensive all around.

Anonymous said...

I never, ever cook unless I've invited people to my own house, willingly, for these reasons.

I do have a complete set of cleaning supplies in my office, though. I've got Lemon Pledge, paper towels, 409, vinegar, Windex, a broom, a dust pan, and a small vaccuum cleaner. I want a clean office and don't care who finds out how I attain this, and I would clean the table in the seminar room if it needed it and I were sick of the situation.

To do so would feel transgressive: I know I am supposed to not do it, to make a feminist point, but dang, I'm going to rebel and do it anyway, so I can sit in a decent environment! ;-)