The Revolution Will Not Be Salaried

Photo: Courtesy of Eilif Rønning.
Welcome to the inaugural class of '29. We've selected 29 graduating college seniors, entering the "real" world in 2018, to write about the state of their lives. What are their hopes, dreams, fears, stressors, failures, and successes as they leave school behind? We will be releasing new entries on a daily basis. If you would like yours to be considered, please email classof29@refinery29.com.
As I prepare for post-grad life, I find myself teetering between class privilege and precarious employment.
Snatching a double degree in philosophy and women’s studies from Vassar College, I have access to a near-oligarchic network and a prestigious institutional branding on my resume. At the same time, my body is unruly in “business casual” wear. A skirt that hovers above the knees triggers side-eyes and the transmisogynistic image of an indecent and hypersexual trans woman who is assumed to do sex work. (News alert: some of us do sex work in consensual conditions and that’s freakin’ rad!) Sticking with a light coat of lip balm and mascara condemns me to a deficiency in femininity. My 6’3” body and broad shoulders wrapped in a dress, my bass voice fluttering through lavender-painted lips — I am Standing Out On LinkedIn, but not in the way that slides me into stable employment. The class and career mobility afforded by an undergraduate degree is haunted by a transphobia that prescribes the street as the proper place of employment for my “unprofessional” body. Already I have been hired and then fired twice by two different employers upon disclosure of my trans identity. My confidence is familiar with the sting of economic marginalization.
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And honey, I’m fine with that. In fact, I take these setbacks as a sign. I don’t want that corporate job in international finance nor do I want that non-profit position that transforms revolutionary politics into a stable nine-to-five career. My experience with employment discrimination has not incited a desire to find opportunities to be workplace tokens. Of course, to those who do go those routes, I pass no judgment. I see potential for subversion in those spaces. But my transness as a disqualification from traditional employment unfolds the conditions of possibility to find alternative economies. We can survive and build economic futures that do not depend on the pity of those in power.
illustrated by Paola Delucca.
The broader issue at hand —and honey, it’s a big one — is that we have been conditioned to believe we need employment to live, so much so that some of us have considered closeting ourselves for it. Although I first articulated this in college classes, the injustice of heteropatriarchal racist capitalism is an everyday struggle. The decadence served at pricey bourgeois restaurants are withheld from the tongues of those who craft such pleasures. Our selves and bodies are censored and dissected for the appeal of bosses. Mondays are the worst. We can’t naturalize the coerced sale of our labor often for an unlivable wage. It is not normal. Employers need us more than we need them. Computer programming to cooking — whatever it is —are things we sell to them. And babe, they do not deserve what we can offer; we do. We need only ourselves and our gifts to live.
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So after I snatch that diploma, catch me living my best life as a feminist cam girl, freelance writer, and political organizer. Camming gives me a platform to explore the contours of my sexuality as well as to create intimate connections with audience members who often seek out the violent objectification of girls like me. I see it as an intervention into their fantasies, breathing my ditzy flirtatious sincerity into their understanding of who trans women are. Through writing and organizing, I will seek to promote alternative economies, ways of living that are not removed from the present world, but rather are tunnels and loopholes within it, like time banks and worker cooperatives, that bypass nine-to-five hell.
If I am committed to a politics of social justice, the so-called return on investment of my college degree cannot be a multiplication of wealth, an ambition to top six figures within six months. The only return on investment from college education that we truly need? A much-needed smooch goodbye to the racist hoarding of resources and infrastructure, soul-crushing career expectations, back-breaking labor that just pays for your boss’s tacky new Tesla. Oh, and a Hey, girl! to the collective queer ecstasy of tasting the pleasure of our products on our terms, unconditionally snuggling and spooning our intimate others, and spending nights up in the club with the girls, no Monday in sight.
Sessi Kuwabara Blanchard graduated in May from Vassar College with a degree in philosophy and women’s studies, Sessi plans to move to Baltimore, MD and continue her political organizing and freelance writing.
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