If you’re reading this, you’re online. Go your favorite search engine and enter “pink collar”. You’ll get a definition along the lines of “Pertaining to the type of jobs, such as telephone operator or secretary, traditionally held by women.”
The expression is supposed to be analogous to “white collar” or “blue collar” jobs – designating a certain level of social status.
If you look a little further, you’ll get a plethora of articles and books with really positive titles like Beyond the Pink Collar. Now, I recognize that if I do a search on titles such as “administrative assistant” or “secretary”, I’ll get something a little more respectful.
But there is this general attitude that it’s somehow “unworthy” work to be a secretary, and if you’re intelligent, you should be moving up and on to other things more worthy of your time. Frankly, it’s started to get under my fingernails, which I do not file at my desk, thank you very much.
I’m the most fortunate of Administrative Assistants, and I know it. I have a pleasant environment in which to work, 95% of the time I am respected and appreciated, I can wear whatever the hell I want and I am paid well for my position. I know quite well that I’m lucky. I’ve worked other jobs where the attitude to me was horrid. That other 5% of the time reminds me of the general world attitude, and I don’t really get it from my co-workers but people outside my department.
You know what? It’s the feminists that make it worst. You see, the two jobs I like best and am most suited for, apart from writing, are secretary (or administrative assistant or whatever you want to call it), and homemaker. I have a managing temperament, I like to make things work smoothly, and I really do like being helpful. Yes, yes, yes, my IQ is as high or higher than my co-workers – people who have advanced degrees. (I work in a college). Yes, I am well-read and there’s not much they talk about that is over my head. (I confess to a complete ignorance of and lack of interest in French Surrealism). Other than for chasing money – something I only have limited interest in once bills are paid, I have no real reason to want to climb the career ladder. I like where I am. I hate the assumption that I have any need or desire to fight for social status or money, and I resent the idea that I am somehow “settling” or “letting the side down” if I make “traditionally female” choices.
What it really boils down to, I think, is a certain cultural attitude that one should want to climb the socio-economic ladder and if you do not, there is something wrong with you. I’ve lived all my life with people who have made career their focus. I can think of two for whom it is a joyful passion, and yes, they are both tops in their fields. They get respected. The thing is, I also like what I do, though maybe not with the intensity of the aforementioned gentlemen. But I do like my job far better than most of my co-workers. It would take a lot of money to move my ass from the chair I am in, and even then, I would approach the move with some trepidation. I can think of moves up that would be more or less what I am doing now, sure. After all, the old saw about executives doing more or less the same work as the average secretary has a lot of truth in it. And if offered such a job, I would take it and enjoy it.
But if the executive is respected for doing a job, then shouldn’t the poor little pink collar lady be respected for doing similar work? And shouldn’t the feminists writing those books like Beyond the Pink Collar be respectful, too? Don’t they realize that an admin did a lot of work to get the thing out?