In the early stages of the MA UDVSA planning I needed to touch fingertips (at least) with a community of proactive feminist support within the college. My broader political awareness has many holes and my actions are not always aligned with the causes I support which is why women like Sara Ahmed (https://feministkilljoys.com/2016/06/10/equality-credentials/) are important to me. Sara has resigned her post as a Professor – one of few women of colour and the Director of the Centre for Feminist Studies at Goldsmiths. She explained her resignation earlier this month as an act of ‘feminist protest’ against the lack of robust actions to tackle and eradicate sexual harassment at Goldsmiths. I want to acknowledge the integrity of her action – and the role that people like me have in creating an environment where the comfort of a well-intentioned policy replaces the discomfort of putting those words into practice. I have been reflecting on how to respond and I will continue to do so as a woman shaping a programme that has as much responsibility to talk about and act on violence and abuse in the College as it does in the wider community.
Like Sara, I believe the College campus should be a place where all of us are well positioned to enjoy the challenges that come with learning. Creative development requires a space in which to play with ideas and question rigidly held viewpoints. The critique needed to challenge and overcome the many oppressions of my society comes most often from engaging with vulnerability, mine and yours. We must not allow predators to exploit us when we dare to be curious, inquisitive, adoring or brave. I fully support Sara’s assertion that having policies can lead to inertia as well as to action. We make our environments less oppressive by keeping on the active side of our equality and dignity policies. Women should not be the majority voice in saying that violence and abuse in unacceptable. Men have an equal part to play in saying that violence and abuse are never justified anywhere – not in the college or workplace, not in the street, not in our homes.
Sara has used her action and her words to be the grit in the oyster but it is up to those of us remaining to produce the pearl.