Vintage photo of people doing The Hustle

But Should We, In Fact, Do the Hustle?

In our June issue, Hustle, we explore all the ways we’re faking it to make it

If you were a kid in the 70s, you hear the word “hustle” and you instantly hear this refrain.

The Hustle was the first line dance I’d ever learned. In 1977, the magical disco-perfect year of glittering balls and strobe lights,  my older cousin would drag my sister and I to the shag carpet, put the needle on “Night Fever” and teach us the laid-back quadrant of up-back, side-to-side moves, clap, pivot, repeat. I could do those moves right now, if you asked me to, no problem — it’s a permanent embed.

There is something so satisfying about remembering those simple moves, that kick-pivot, and doing it all over again. Like the chorus to a favorite song that never gets old. The familiarity is what compels, and that you’re just one consistent cell in the giant Hustle organism, doin’ your job.

According to Merriam Webster, the word hustle comes from the Dutch word husselen, meaning “to shake” (ah, perhaps as in to shake one’s booty?) When it’s a verb it can mean to hasten or hurry; as a noun either energetic activity, a scam or somehow dishonest work. According to this fascinating etymology by Merriam Webster, the term “side hustle” originated in the 1950s and was used to describe both scams and legitimate gigs. And for more than a century, hustle culture “has been tied up in both stereotypes and realities of what it means to work as a Black person.” NPR has an insightful piece about the word’s history and how “hustle was used to describe the reality of what many poor Black people had to do to make ends meet.” Basically, work twice as hard.

These days the word hustle can still mean a scam: Elon Musk called Dogecoin a “hustle” on SNL, and the new Hulu documentary Generation Hustle is all about con artists among us. Or it can mean a legit way to sell those gently-used jeans on Poshmark.

TueNighters have shared some of their side hustles which include everything from dog boarding, to baking and selling bread, to bartending at pro wrestling events (!), to teaching nurses how to give Well Woman exams, to dabbling in cryptocurrency. Sometimes a hustle stays a hustle — sometimes it’s a way to fake it until we make it a full-time gig.

Of the multitude of things women in midlife are good at doing it’s being multitalented and phenomenal jugglers — home, family, job — and one or two side hustles. Making ends meet and making it seem effortless. 

This week we are questioning the hustle, making it work for us and wondering if we need the hustle to simply get by. Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo…

In this issue:

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