I’m sharing this experience from some certain activist spaces that seem to be resistant to the kind of feminism we are seeking to share. Look for another post shortly on art spaces…let me warn you, though, it’s painfully similar:
The workshop is going well and I’m enjoying myself.
<Cue childish/playful/joyous/erotic/frivolous/superficial/whatever laughter>
“Excuse me,” she politely interjects (as someone ALWAYS does), “but can you explain why or how this is political?”
The bubbling voices and laughter in the room slowly, yet suddenly, hush themselves. It’s as if everyone was reminded that they should be taking themselves and all of this, this ACTIVISM, more seriously.
And, yeah, I do find a lot of things about activism to be fucking SERIOUS. It’s not a casual hobby to be a feminist. It is an ongoing self and collective educational process to unlearn the patterns of oppression within ourselves. It’s heavy.
But what kind of masochistic expectation is built into this white-supremacist neoliberal capitalist heteropatriarchy that not only is my life supposed to suck if I can’t conform to mainstream standards of success and beauty, but my life is supposed to suck during my entire struggle for liberation too???
No. Laughter does not make light of the struggle. It’s a part of it. I will not disregard the political in the knowledge of one’s capacity for joy.
I want to dismantle this notion many of us have of ‘the perfect activist’ – the one who has all the answers and can seriously engage without reprieve. I need to dismantle this ideal before it consumes me. I need space to cultivate pleasure and joy and care. And that’s why I ask for time to be playful together, to be erotic together, and to be frivolous together. These are strategic moments. And they are woven into a politics that seeks to be sustainable, holistic, and exceptionally forgiving.
Sometimes (lots of times) I do become jaded and feel overwhelmingly defeated. Let’s all just be obedient to the expectations of the oppressor and channel our pain and anger into self-destruction…destroying our movements from the inside…OR WAIT, let’s be fucking serious AND playful AND irrational AND witchy AND caring AND full of rage. We can hold those contradictions. Those are the assemblages of our ongoing collective and individual resistance.