30 Day Song Challenge, Day 15: A Song That Could Be The Theme Song To Your Life

So obviously to answer this question I gotta say something about my life first so that the song choice makes sense. Let me begin with an image of a (fictional) woman also named Margaret (my middle name):

This image, from the last season of Mad Men, has Peggy walking into a new job radiating “I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK about performing for other people’s expectations of me.” I’ve learned over my career in academia that as a woman (and I’m even a cis, white, middle-class enough, able-bodied woman with a whole lot of privilege going for her) is that you’re damned if you meet other people’s expectations of you (bc you’re a woman, and thus either meeting them in the wrong way or excessively much, like being a ‘bitch’ rather than being assertive) and you’re damned if you don’t meet other people’s expectations. So, I might as well do what makes ME happy, because if people are upset at me or think I’m somehow failing to meet expectations, at least it was for doing what’s best for me. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t, so I might as well do what makes me happy.

I’m pretty certain my dissertation director helped me come to this realization. I don’t know if she ever said this in as many words, but she constantly made it clear that I should stop doing what I thought I was “supposed” to do, and just do what I did well. Like, stop being what other people think you should be and just be the scholar that you’re really good at being. In effect she didn’t let me get “disciplined” by the discipline of philosophy (and the institution of academia). Which, to be honest, is both incredibly rare and genius, and totally a sign of respect and care. (I’ve since come to realize that the job market is a crapshoot–and an increasingly smaller crapshoot–so gaming the system just isn’t worth it.)

So, if my story, at least professionally, is learning from a superfantastic mentor how to be a badass woman scholar, then Peaches’ “I Don’t Give A…” could be the theme song of my life. Here, she samples Joan Jett’s “I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation” (thus the learning from previous generations of women in your incredibly male dominated field) and then screams “I DON’T GIVE A FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!” throughout the rest of the song. It’s cathartic to listen to, and incredibly cathartic to scream along with in the car.




Runners Up: Gang of Four, “Independence” (I live off of and spend a lot of time on Independence Blvd. The lyrics are also a pretty accurate description of what it feels like to work at a university, though that’s not what they’re explicitly about); Bush Tetras, “Too Many Creeps” (I’m a woman in philosophy, yo).