Being a ‘working person’
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This chapter explores the multiple and even contradictory ways in which reentering women experience and embody the ‘employable woman.’ Slightly over half of the reentering women interviewed described themselves in terms that indicated that they identified work as part of who they were, or who they could be. Employment was positioned as a proof of return to a previous identity, or a possibility for a new ‘reformed’ identity. Several also mobilized a narrative about being a working person to distinguish themselves from other (non-reformed) criminalized women. However, other women said that while they were open to work opportunities, they expressed ambivalence, or even rejection, of its value or its relevance to their identities. Work was not a priority for them, nor was it particularly meaningful. While recognizing that these distinctions are neither static nor clearly demarcated, this general categorization affords an opportunity to probe how reentering women describe their engagement with work, and how employment relates to their narratives of self.