The day after Donald Trump was elected I went to Canada.
I was presenting at the National Women’s Studies Association’s annual conference which was held in Montreal that year.
I had gone to bed early the night before, when polls started to show that Trump was winning, hoping that, while I slept, there might be a miracle.
I woke up, looked at my phone, put it down, and got ready for the conference in a daze. As my husband drove me to the Indianapolis airport, an hour away from our home, we punctuated the stunned silence with short bursts of outrage.
It was not until I got to the Montreal airport that I realized I had never picked my phone back up after setting it down in disappointment.
There were a lot of memorable moments from that conference. Protests and thinking groups were organized quickly among our panels and presentations. The last night of the conference my roommate and I held an impromptu party in our room with new friends and old. The hotel bar gave us a dozen wineglasses. I had bought a cake on impulse from a bakery around the corner from the hotel. Someone brought bottles of wine.
We were laughing and talking about the conference and about life when my roommate’s partner called and told them to watch SNL’s cold open. It was Kate McKinnon, as Hilary Clinton, singing “Hallelujah.”
The Americans in the room started holding each other and crying. The Canadians looked on in politely befuddled commiseration.
I’ve often thought that our Canadian friends would tell their children and grandchildren they knew the US was headed for something dark in that moment.
And, well, here we are.
Getting a PhD is never easy.
It is harder when, in addition to doing the work, you have to spend time convincing people you can do the work.
It is even harder when you have to do the work while also fighting your government for your rights and the rights of marginalized folx.
I spent many, many weeks in 2015 and 2016 sitting in front of my computer wondering how on earth I could write when the world was on fire.
What a sweet summer fool I was.
For what it’s worth, the answer I came to then, was that my dissertation was an act of resistance. If I could help some people see how and why the oppressive ideology of virginity was interwoven with foreign and domestic politics in the US then I could help dismantle those systems. As I phrased it in the introduction to my dissertation:
In one sense, the entire purpose of this dissertation is to explore the contradictions inherent in virginity and how they are expressed in medical, legal, and popular cultures, but this begs the question: to what end?
To create a flood. Virginity, like sand, is always shifting and never stable. The patriarchal nation-state, the master’s house, is built on sand. The master’s tools cannot destroy it but a flood can wash away the foundation and bring the whole edifice crashing down.
In times like these, we can need many things. Sometimes we need a break from work. Sometimes we need time to be quiet and sometimes we need time to laugh with friends and remember the goodness in the world.
Sometimes, we need our work. We need our work as a vital expression of who we are. We need our work as a form of resistance. We need our work as an escape.
I started abd2phd in the summer of 2017.
I started it, in large part, because I was so frustrated trying to balance my time between teaching, dissertating, and activism.
Your dissertation and your activism are core parts of who you are. They are inseparable.
That’s why creating space for activism is a core part of the mission of abd2phd and my coaching philosophy.
Over the next however long it takes we will remain here with advice on how to do your dissertation, yes, but also how to take care of yourself; how to be an academic and an activist.
Our social media is about to get REAL political because fuck fascism and Fuck Donald Trump.
We’re still here for you.
We love you.