When I am an old tenured woman

When I am an old tenured woman I shall dye my hair purple
With a green streak which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my income on books and high-heeled boots
And horseback riding lessons, and say we’ve no time for meetings.

I shall show videos in the classroom when I’m tired
And drink in public and say what I mean
And tell students what I think of their attitude
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall wear sweatpants to the grocery store again
And pick the most interesting research projects
And give the grades that are earned.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And speak about whatever issues are important
Or give the President a book to read that’s not about online edutainment
And hoard pens and plane tickets and writing time and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not be too feminist
And set a good example for the students.
We must not argue with the dean or the chair.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am tenured, and have purple hair.

(with many apologies to Jenny Joseph)

#1: I think when I get tenure we should call the blog Grumpy Rumblings of the (formerly un-)Tenured

#2: When you get tenure you can change the name to whatever you want.

#1:  Spring Break is gonna be Epic.  My shit gonna ALL hang loose.

31 Responses to “When I am an old tenured woman”

  1. Practical Parsimony Says:

    I think Jenny Joseph would highly approve. I am going to share with my feminist friends who are not yet tenured.

  2. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Hellz to the motherfukkken YEAH!

  3. prof-like substance Says:

    By the time we get tenure, doesn’t all our shit already hang loose?

  4. bogart Says:

    Love it.

  5. becca Says:

    LOVE
    Except… I don’t believe you. Nobody EVER dyes their hair purple when they get tenure. It’s like the committees have a sense for these things, and won’t give it to you if that’s what you intend to do with it.
    Tenure, for all that I don’t quite understand how, serves consistently to make people More conservative, More invested in the status quo. It was my biggest frustration with Ms. Mentor, who always said “save that attitude for when you’ve got tenure”… but in my own experience, no one ever does. Thus the system stays the system, and you must never be too feminist.
    Sorry to be so disgruntled/disillusioned. It is truly a lovely poem.

    • Rumpus Says:

      I disagree, but not ardently. The tenure process is a selection process and it does reinforce the status quo, but I remember as an undergraduate walking through the wide-open door into my (tenured) faculty advisor’s office while he was playing a first-person shooter on his computer…and one of my current (tenured) colleagues has canceled classes so s/he can go to an auction. If my untenured colleagues also do such things, they don’t make it blatantly obvious.

      Looking at the tags, maybe should be IBTP?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      *bzzzt*
      the woman whose office is next to mine dyed her hair purple
      not all of it, but enough.
      later she did blue

    • Miser Mom Says:

      I have not dyed my hair purple, it is true. But every time I publish a paper, I dye my hair red. My students say, “You dyed your hair!” And I say, “well, I published a paper!” How the heck else am I going to tell my students about my research?

  6. phdme Says:

    Love it. Love it!

  7. Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam) Says:

    I look forward to the (less?) grumpy rumblings of the tenured… Soon? How far out are we?

  8. What Now? Says:

    I love it! (Partly because I’ve been feeling decidedly middle-aged lately, and just this weekend I was wondering what I would do when I was an old woman.)

  9. Linda Says:

    One of my most memorable professors was an old, tenured woman who brought a tea mug that was *not* full of tea to classes every day. She also would ask if anyone had asthma and then light up a cigarette at times (this was back in the days when smoking was banned inside the classrooms but not from the private offices, so perhaps not as shocking as today.) We all loved her dearly and were bummed when she retired. We each had her sign a copy of the popular book she wrote so we could remember her. She did not have purple hair, though.

  10. Cloud Says:

    I love this! Sadly, I do not have the equivalent of tenure to look forward to, when I can dye my hair purple. But, actually, I could dye my hair purple now with no repercussions- it would actually increase my credibility in some techie circles, I think! And I have zero desire to do it. As my latest post indicates, though, I would like a time when I could speak freely (but reasonably) on topics that should not be controversial and yet sadly are, without fear of repercussions. I’m not sure what it would take to get that. Maybe a huge pile of money?

  11. Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion | Clarissa's Blog Says:

    [...] than purple hair and the sweatpants, I already do everything the author of this great poem plans to do when she is an old tenured woman. So now I don’t even know what I will do when I get tenure. By the way, how can anybody buy a [...]

  12. Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam) Says:

    I hope the purple hair with the green streak and the sweat pants have been arranged!


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