Queer Feminist Values – Update

I thought I’d posted this two weeks ago but apparently I haven’t. Its a bit out of date but I don’t have time to re-write it.

Hello magical internet world!

I wanted to check in and say thank you to everyone who commented and talked about my last post. I have genuinely changed my practice because of the conversations we had and have more confidence in myself as a teacher. You are the best.

So where am I? First a story to illustrate how far I’ve come:

Yesterday I was digging alongside two learners, one of whom suggested we use a prostitute (meaning a hoe… ha) to which I happily started up a conversation about how its called a hoe and anyway the more respectful term is sex worker. In the end the lad apologised for offending me which wasn’t entirely my point but I did get the feeling it was a productive and non-confrontational conversation.

There have been other moments too. I am particularly proud of an incident where I calmly channeled anger in reaction to a young person’s sexism by accidentally using NVC speak ‘When you laughed at that comment I got really angry…’ but I won’t recount that whole story, it would take a while.

Using a potent mixture of social media and real life interactions I’ve been able to make these interventions because I’ve felt there’s a group of people that have my back. There’s a space to reflect and grow, and its not just the inside of my own head. Its the secret of resilience and it reminds me of the best moments in activism. The way you get braver the more connections you make with other activists, and the more you trust each other, the more daring you all become. “My veins don’t end in me”.
What I’m learning…
  • ‘I don’t know if I can change you, I don’t know much about you yet’ This is me adapting the words of the wonderful Sarah Kay saying ‘I don’t know if I can change the world, I don’t know much about it yet’. I’ve learnt that feeling like you are building a relationship of trust with learners means that it is easier to question and challenge; to have a dialogue that changes people.
  • You never know until you ask who your allies will be. Its probably worth finding out.
  • The fear of conflict and of being disliked or disrespected is one of the things that blocks me from challenging attitudes but it fades the more I think about and discuss all this.
  • How active I am in challenging sexism depends very much on who the staff I’m working with are. If they are men, I am much less likely to speak up. I think this means my fear described above is so much more with colleagues than it is with learners and that I have this assumption that the men I work with won’t be on my side. This is definitely an unhelpful assumption, but I haven’t worked out how to move through it yet except that all the above certainly help.
There are other things, like why I never trusted Ray Mears that are less directly related to my teaching but are still interesting and useful.
My favourite poem….

Like You by Roque Dalton (original is in Spanish and a bit more beautiful)

Like you I

love love, life, the sweet smell

of things, the sky-blue

landscape of January days.

And my blood boils up

and I laugh through eyes

that have known the buds of tears.

I believe the world is beautiful

and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.

And that my veins don’t end in me

but in the unanimous blood

of those who struggle for life,

love,

little things,

landscape and bread,

the poetry of everyone.