This summer I applied for a school-year internship at an online magazine. The articles appeared to embrace female empowerment, transgender issues, and international intersectionality. I hoped this internship, if I got it, would transform into a job post-graduation, or at least, plenty of contacts for potential jobs elsewhere.
My application was accepted and I went through two rounds of preliminary interviews. All seemed to be going well until I had the interview with one of the editor-in-chiefs of the publication. She asked me to pitch some potential articles. I immediately jumped in with articles about traveling, education and comparative political-correctness. I felt inspired and refreshed by my recent experience abroad, and confident that my ideas were malleable enough to the whims of any potential editors. During my pitch about traveling alone, I made a comment about how the boys I knew studying abroad never seemed to blink an eye about being alone in a foreign country, whereas many of the women I knew only traveled in groups and tried to keep away from tourist areas at night.
The editor-in-chief stopped me in my tracks and said, “We try not to disparage men at this magazine.” I blinked, agreed (even though I did not really understand what about my comment disparaged men) and then continued my pitches. Toward the end of the interview, I made an off-hand comment about feminism in the modern era, and how delighted I was to see the magazine embracing intersectionality given today’s political climate.
“Feminism is not a political issue,” responded the editor-in-chief. I felt my mouth drop open. What happened next can only be described as a fifteen-minute diatribe about how the magazine would not be condemning the actions of President Donald Trump, regardless of what he said or did, even if it involved women. “We have a larger purpose than that.”
The interview ended. The next day, I received an email, asking for a final commitment to a six-month internship with the magazine. I debated for two days, received a rather rude follow-up email and then declined.
In retrospect, I believe (or hope) what the editor-in-chief was trying to say was that feminism is not just confined to America and that the magazine tries to work across the borders dealing with “real feminist issues,” as she said.
For her, “real feminist issues” are genital mutilation, child-brides or sex trafficking, which I agree are important and huge problems that we should work to solve. For her, feminism does not encompass smaller issues, such as equal pay, women being able to travel alone safely or the fact that our President is undoubtedly a misogynist.
I disagreed with her—feminism encompasses it all. Not only does it encompass all, but feminism can only truly began to solve problems such as sex trafficking when it involves itself with the political structure of both individual nations and international bodies, such as the United Nations. Just as the right to vote and the ERA were political campaigns, so must any intersectional, international feminist agenda use politics to inform and succeed in their mission. As an undergrad, when people ask me what I plan to do after I graduate, I generally shrug and say, “Whatever they’ll pay me to do.” I’ve come to realize that this statement is incorrect. I couldn’t work for a magazine that didn’t support feminism as a political issue—with or without pay. I wanted to have more integrity than that.
Perhaps it is a millennial circumstance, perhaps it is a generation that has seen increasing amounts of physical and emotional violence against others normalized, but I cannot in good faith work for companies or individuals who are so contrary to my values that I would feel intimidated in expressing my opinion to them. I couldn’t have discussed these issues with this editor-in-chief without threatening my own employment. For a magazine that seemed very welcoming, that feeling did not sit well with me.
I now find myself deeply researching different companies, CEOs, employee lawsuits and a variety of other things before submitting my resume. I sincerely struggle to consider companies that don’t seem to be cognizant of the current unrest in the country. Of course, this was all prior to Charlottesville. After that, I decided to take a break from submitting resumes at all.
The only hiring bias that I could probably face is pitted against my gender. This is very little considering how hiring biases affect people of color, non-Christians, and the LGBTQ+ community. I think it’s important to consider who else a company is employing and who the people you’re working for—whether it’s a direct boss or the CEO—are. I want to work for a company with integrity, with diversity, with a compassionate mission in the world. I don’t want to work at a company with predetermined hiring biases, although when we talk about individuals, there’s always unconscious bias to be worked through.
I don’t think it’s evil to be a Republican or a conservative. It’s not wrong to have different opinions than mine. What’s incorrect is to be so unaware, or so uncaring, about the national tragedies that many people are dealing with everyday. I want to work for a socially conscious company.
There’s an argument to say that any corporation has to represent a myriad of voices, a variety of views. That’s certainly true from an advertising perspective. However, to be a company that condemns hate-speech supports immigrants or fact-checks the statements of a President, does not in my eyes take a particular kind of strength. These seem like very basic qualities. Perhaps this is the flighty thoughts of someone who has yet to fully enter the job market. But, I hope sincerely that a year from now I can say that I work for a company, for CEOs, and with people that I feel good about. Maybe they won’t totally agree with my political views, and that’s okay—as long as we can have a discussion about these issues, roll our eyes at the President and condemn extremist actions in all sectors of the world.
The America in which I will job-hunt cannot be a world in which my employers believe something as important as feminism is not a political issue. As soon as Donald Trump was elected, several aspects of my humanity were called into question; they, in turn, became political issues. I plan to answer that call without compromising my values, but I guess you’ll have to get back to me in a year or two about how successful I’ve been.