A ‘Period Dignity Officer’ Seemed Like a Good Idea. Until a Man Was Named.
I was a new graduate student in a psychology program when I learned at a department meeting that I was scheduled to sit on a committee of professors to approve a period “narrator.” I didn’t know who the committee was or what it was supposed to approve. The meeting ended, students left, and I thought everything was fine.
I was wrong.
It was September of 2007, and I was on a committee of faculty to approve a “period-narrator” policy. One of the criteria was someone who could “address the needs of men in ways other than the stereotyped feminine roles which have long characterized the experiences of men and women in the workplace.” I wasn’t sure if I should be a part of the committee or not. I had had mixed feelings about my decision to go to graduate school, my parents’ influence on my choice, my gender—everything about choosing a graduate program seemed “out of reach” to me, and I had not had a single “real” experience that I could compare to my male-dominated field. I was worried my new identity would be threatened if I didn’t become part of the committee. I was too ashamed to tell my parents that I wasn’t going to graduate school after all.
I was too worried to tell my parents what I would be doing with my life.
I was too worried to tell my parents I was not going to graduate school after all.
I had never been on a committee before. I was scared to ask questions. I was nervous that I wouldn’t understand the process. I thought they were just making me a “narrator.”
My committee consisted of faculty members from the sociology and philosophy departments, two from psychology, one from history, and one from