Ay, sorry for my blogging neglect – things have been pretty busy for me in the non-virtual world
It’s odd – it is only now that I think about my gender in relation with my deafness. Law is a relatively male-dominated field. I would say that my law school is approximately 60% male and 40% women, and all of you know that this is not exactly representative of our population. In fact, in the office that I am working in right now, is very male-dominated.
As a woman, I have to wonder, how does my gender affect how my professional peers perceive my deafness? Sometimes I think my gender makes my deafness even more of a liability because it’s a double-whammy of perceived weakness. Deaf and a female – ay!
Then again I haven’t been the perfect symbol of feminism. Ever since I was a child, I always identified more with boys and men, rejecting traditionally feminine roles. I have a little theory about that – a large majority of deaf children in my area were male, so most of my friends growing up were males. I took to their rough-housing and expletive-laced speech like fish to water. During primary school, I was the girl who played basketball, rejected makeup and the “girly” gossip. Sometimes I think my implicit rejection of traditional feminine patterns (hey, calculus was my favorite class in high school!) has a lot to do with my current course in life. Law, with its poor work-life balance commonplace in large law firms, doesn’t always provide a welcome place for women.
In the end, my tomboyish nature has benefited me in the legal world. I can get along just fine with my male colleagues, joking and drinking the day away with them. To be honest, I think I would have suffered more in a more female-dominated workplace. I remember most of discriminatory acts (not all, of course) directed towards me originated from females. Female teachers would be the ones who complained about having me in their classes. My female classmates would be the ones who made snarky remarks.
In the end, maybe being deaf and in a male-dominated industry isn’t such a bad thing if you can swim with the sharks. Admittedly, this is a very limited viewpoint, and might have more to do with my personality than my gender. I would love to hear other opinions on this issue.