Funnily enough, I had just started composing this post when I read this blog post by Sara Ahmed on ‘Perception’ which feels closely related to some of the things I'd been thinking about. She begins:
“When you expose a problem you pose a problem. I have been thinking more about the problem of how you become the problem because you notice a problem. When exposing a problem is to become a problem then the problem you expose is not revealed.”
It's something I've come up against before - the sense that, although I'm a fairly quiet person, and I definitely make a stand for quietness, I've always felt in danger of being labelled a trouble-maker. Particularly when it comes to pointing out the obvious. Particularly when it comes to issues such as diversity or access.I come to stand for the problem, rather than pointing towards it.
Ahmed's point is a good one (they generally are) and I love her encouragement to other Feminist Killjoys to "Stay maladjusted!" and not cave into this pressure to 'fit in' or become 'easier to digest'.
But in other words, if you are going to point something out that doesn’t fit with the dominant way of thinking, you’d better feel sure about what you’re saying…
And where this interests me is where it meets the notion of listening. Because listening allows for difference of opinion to be present. But it also allows me to shift in relation to what I’m hearing.
This is where I have a major stumble. Because this, what Ahmed points out, exposes a system where binaries rule, where politics is about sticking to your guns, and where in order to create change we need to stick to one argument and push it through until it sticks. Which is a definition of commitment, right? When we commit to something, we continue having faith in it, even when that thing disappoints us or we’re no longer sure about it.
But how does this relate to plurality, and to the notion that we’re always changing?