Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What We Cannot Speak About We Must Pass Over in Silence

Besides being a quote from my favorite philosopher, the title of this post sort of captures how I've been feeling lately. When it comes to all the big political issues that I'm usually more than ready to talk (or rant) about, I just can't bring myself to say anything meaningful right now. Hence the dearth of posts with any kind of real substance to them lately. And I was thinking about this with mixed feelings last night.

On the one hand, I think you have to be self-reflective, and figure out what you need, and take care of yourself. And sometimes this entails taking a break from politics and activism when it gets to be too much, or too depressing, or you have other things in your life bringing you down.

On the other hand, being able to take this break, and sort of withdraw for awhile is a function of privilege. I'm invested in the issues of health care reform, and achieving a truly inclusive ENDA, for example. And I recognize that this is a crucial time on these issues, and that if these opportunities are lost, it may be years before we cycle back to them again. And I have been posting on these topics until very recently. But right now I'm not even interested in watching Rachel Maddow (which is amazing in itself), and the thought of tracking developments on these issues just kind of makes me feel tired. I'd much rather play with my kid, bake a bunch of nutmeg biscotti, curl up with a cup of good coffee and some Annie Proulx short stories, or lose myself in a football game. And the point is, I have the luxury of doing that. My employer provides excellent health insurance at an affordable price. I don't have to worry about negotiating for reasonable accommodations in the workplace, or experiencing discrimination based on my gender presentation. In these ways I'm privileged. And one function of privilege is that you can periodically withdraw from the debate and the work of ensuring fair treatment for all.

So I guess I'm saying that I recognize that my silence on these topics and my withdrawal from the debate and the work of consciousness-raising is a function of my privilege. And that doesn't really sit well with me. At the same time, I think self-care is a feminist act. So I guess I'm kind of torn on the issue, and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.


  1. You said exactly what I've been thinking (and unable to vocalize) for the last several months. I feel exhausted by the political process, even though I feel that I have no right to be. It's frustrating.

  2. Yes, THIS!

    I think self-care is a feminist act.

  3. Brioche9/30/2009

    Maybe this is another area where you have to really work to achieve a balance between your personal needs and your political obligations.

  4. Peterabbit9/30/2009

    But isn't even being able to balance these things a function of privilege?

  5. I think that being able to withdraw from it and being able to balance them are both functions of privilege. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not like you are personally responsible for the system that privileges you. And you're one person who has to figure out how to balance these things out for yourself.

  6. You must take care of yourself! You have an obligation to yourself.