Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

It was suggested that a man, over the age of 40, won't easily find employment in our biz of librarianship. Is this true? If it is true, what are some reasons? I just don't know.

I find this all rather disturbing, because ... well ... I'm looking for the next step in my career (i.e., looking for a professional posting) and ... hmmm ... I have a confession....

I, too, am White, 40+ ... and Male.

Hey, wouldn’t Red Green say something here like, “I’m a man … but I can change … if I have to … I guess”? [Who is Red Green? Well, someone has to tell you. Look here:]

For a while I've had the sense of something untoward in the biz, but I find myself repeatedly avoiding that ... ummm ... sense. I just don’t want to go there; it’s too nasty. Ours is so pure and noble a profession.
Perhaps, I realize that to acknowledge that funky smell is to give it form, credibility … reality. If I don’t acknowledge it … well … hopefully it will go away. I’m not so sure about that, though.

I must say that while writing this note, at this very moment, I feel the trepidation of approaching a taboo subject. I ask, “How can I, a white, 40+, male dare claim any sort of discrimination when I have all the benefits and advantages of my white, 40+, male world?” I worry that someone within the profession will recognize me and I’ll be labeled as a trouble maker, a hot potato. I worry that to speak my concerns would be to smear myself with a very peculiar, unemployable smell. I don’t know that I can ... or should.

However, upon reviewing some of my earlier posts, I recognize that I have alluded to the topic on two previous occasions. For example:

… I have been informed by insiders that I threatened the position of the head research librarian with my knowledge of current information sources, technologies and practices, and ... most unbelievably ... because I am male. My star was rising too quickly and I had come to the positive notice of the powers-that-be; 'noted in dispatches', as it were. Also, because I am male and knowledgeable, confident, well-spoken, well-dressed ... a.k.a. 'professional' ... clients assumed I was the manager.

See: Which kind of librarian are you?
See also:
Back into the Stacks)

I’m still having difficulty mentioning this topic. Believe me, I am. I don’t abide any discrimination of any sort. I will and do speak against it if and when I see it. I'm not militant, but I do attempt to live by positive example. Come on people, really: Don’t we all benefit from a diversity of influences? There are even laws about in-breeding, for gosh-darned sakes, forgive my Flanders-ism. The concept of discrimination is a complete and utter wonk to me.

I recognize the privilege of my state: White male. I recognize the benefit of my age: Experience and Professionalism. I cannot … do not … want to, or need to acknowledge that my privilege is my disadvantage.

But I don't know. I'm not sure. Could I be so naïve? Could I be so wrong? Should I say I'm sorry? Should I change? Should I have to?

No! I am a professional. I carry myself in a professional manner, one which is appropriate to my background, experience and age. I expect others in my field to act in a manner appropriate to our profession. I'm not a stiff ... and I'm not going to act like a victim. Granted, how authentic is it to act like a professional when you can't even find a position within your field of expertise?

For damn's sake....

No comments: