Saturday, March 15, 2014

An intersectionality of my own

I now have the phrase 'intersectional feminist' woven into my Twitter profile, so I thought I'd take a post to describe what that means to me.

No two intersectionalities are alike. My practice is no doubt informed by the many years I've been consuming anti-discrimination narratives on feminism, glbti rights and the rights of people of colour. (I use the term people of colour because I like the sense of solidarity it implies.) I'm not as used to incorporating disability narratives into my work, even though I could be said to fall under this category as well. (It's just hard to view developing extreme distaste for the majority of humanity as a disability. It's more like an acquired taste which doesn't lend itself to optimal social relations.) I'm also not used to theorising about class; I am privileged enough to have access to a university education, and I am privileged enough to travel every year, but my disposable income is very low and when I eat out I do so at inexpensive restaurants. I can't afford to see many concerts or performances, so most of my entertainment is in the form of movies or books. When I do spend, that is - my parents have paid for the internet, so I spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and The Guardian instead.

So maybe I should talk about class and mental 'disability' some more, particularly their cross-section. I take medication which makes me doubt that I'm living my life to the full. With my income in mind, it could be said that I am living in poverty. However, I'm housed in a middle-class abode, there's always food in the fridge and I even live in a relatively good area. I can sometimes afford little luxuries, if I save up enough. If I had the means to go out to events several times a week it would probably be better for my mental health. If I had the means to travel around the world non-stop it would probably be better for my mental health. I would really love to relocate to Scandinavia, but as I don't have the means I have had to abandon that idea for now.

My mental health has been better since I accepted my limitations financially, and stopped thinking that the grass was always greener in Sweden. There are many ways in which Australia is a preferable place to be. I've allowed myself to be more content in the present moment. I take comfort in my new friends and life by the beach. I don't take the weather for granted, nor the high levels of education and optimism around me (typical of both my neighbourhood and Australia in general). 

I have the opportunity to go out to eat or drink every day of the week, and what with the making of a new friend who has a lot of time for me, I am sometimes finding myself doing just that. This perks me up and keeps me from dwelling on things too much. However, my self esteem remains lower than most people's. I often feel like I'm being excluded in some way by the publications I should be looking at hosting my work. When one's open to glbti voices it announces itself as representing 'queer' voices, and this term doesn't represent me at all. When another reaches out to women it is holding back opportunities for people with mental health issues. And so on. I'm invariably in some kind of minority group that the publication marginalises. I don't have faith in any of them. Maybe I should start my own, but I'm too disorganised.

I envy the feminist I met some months ago who had concluded that he needed to spend less time on feminism and more time on other engagements. I would love that kind of break from being constantly miffed, disgruntled or angry. Apparently there is a lot of burn-out amongst feminists. I'm not surprised. I guess I need to pick my fights more carefully. To be informed is to be irate, but what other choice is there? Ignorance is bliss?

I don't even focus on glbti struggles (not exclusively) that much these days, even though the issues remain important to me. Ditto PoC rights. I follow bell hooks on Twitter and keep up to date on whatever Zadie Smith is doing, stay aware of the popular discourses surrounding all these issues because it's rewarding. And while being an intersectional feminist remains close to my heart, I cannot do all these issues justice. I don't have the energy.

There is an upcoming 'All about women' event in Sydney, and I can't really afford to go. If I could, I would probably feel more of a credit to the feminist movement. I would also feel more informed and entertained. As it is I'll have to go back to reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on my Kindle Fire. I feel like I'm learning about Nigeria in doing so, even though my Nigerian friend thinks her works are BS.

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