I am so tired of feeling intellectually inferior based on the fact that I am not a philosopher or a theorist. All of my projects involve relatively contemporary issues. What’s more, I choose topics and papers because I am invested in pragmatic social change. I wrote a paper discussing post-structuralism and human rights in order to learn how to organize around human rights within a discipline that values post-structuralist theory. I decided to focus an economic paper on the interrelations between NAFTA, agriculture, and immigration from Mexico to the United States so that I could better communicate economic forces behind immigration to my conservative friends (and everyone else in Texas). My thesis uses theory (sparsely) to get at methods to prove that the representations of immigrant populations in news media matter because they influence the real lived experiences of people residing in the United States, whatever their residency status may be.
I am a radical in that I want to see social change to end oppressions of marginalized peoples. That is why I am a feminist, that is why I chose to study Women’s and Gender Studies. I wanted to be able to spend a couple of years understanding how to use “legitimate” and socially acceptable forms of knowledge creation to further the causes I care about.
I AM TIRED OF FEELING LIKE MY KNOWLEDGE IS ILLEGITIMATE AND INSUFFICIENT BECAUSE IT IS NOT THEORETICAL. I AM TIRED OF FEELING LIKE AN ACADEMIC FAILURE BECAUSE THIS:
“An interval must separate the present from what it is not for the present to be itself, but this interval that constitutes it as a present must, by the same token, divide the present in and of itself, thereby also dividing, along with the present, everything that is thought on the basis of the present, that is, in our metaphysical language, every being, and singularly substance or the subject… And it is this constitution of the present, as an “originary” and irreducibly nonsimple (and therefore stricto sensu nonoriginary) synthesis of marks, or traces of retentions and protensions… that I propose to call archi-writing, archi-trace, or differance.”
MAKES NO SENSE TO ME.
I think that theoretical work can be valuable, because it can create new avenues for envisioning our world which then allows us to imagine the possibilities of social change. Other people certainly disagree with me, but that is how I feel. And I am tired of feeling that, because I don’t want to talk about Deleuze or Derrida (and would not know where to start if I tried), I am not legitimate. Certainly some of this comes from the inside. I’m sure a lot of this is wrapped up in this concept I recently heard of called “imposter syndrome,” but it is also present in the hierarchies that exist in this supposedly feminist department.
I am tired of Women’s and Gender Studies telling me that I do not matter as much as others in my department because I am not a PhD student and I cannot converse in philosophy.
I am also tired of living the hierarchy WITHIN A WOMEN’S AND GENDER STUDIES DEPARTMENT. What the hell is that about? I realize that my rosy angry feminazi Gloria Steinem-style aviators probably obscured my vision of the reality of Women’s and Gender Studies as a discipline when I decided on it for my MA, but I truly believed that a Women’s and Gender Studies department would be… well… feminist. Perhaps it is more feminist than other disciplines, but I don’t have any other graduate experience to compare it to.
I am also, generally, just physically exhausted. So on that angry note, I’m going to chuck this article in the “no amount of reading is going to help me make coherent points in class tomorrow” pile and go to sleep.
Fiesty Feminist Out.