A few days I started writing something angry. Something too angry. I noticed that it’s maybe exaggerated because I always feel everything very intensely. I knew it would be wrong to publish something in such a moment.
I was writing about how I feel in the intellectual environment I am currently involved in. The last couple of days I constantly asked myself what I was doing here. The master’s I started is called “Women, Peace and Security” (at LSE, one of the best universities for Social Sciences in the world, they say), a unique programme that critically investigates the Women, Peace and Security agenda from the UN’s Security Council. Anyways, the resolutions try to force states to implement measures to improve “women’s situations” in “conflict” or “post-conflict” areas. We look at the resolutions from a gender perspective and investigate how the resolutions fail to really improve many women’s situations on the ground. There are many things to say about that – which is not what I was writing about, because I don’t feel empowered to draw any conclusions, yet.
What I wanted to write about was the fact that we study a though subject: We study power-relations, oppressions, discriminations, human right’s violations, marginalization and so on. But how do we do that? What do we all do with this knowledge? What am I doing with this knowledge? Whom do we study for? Do we actually study Social Sciences in order to make the world a “better place”, if that is possible? How do we make the world a better place? Is it naïve to wish for that? Do we make the world better reading academic articles from Butler and Foucault, written so complicated that you can barely get what they want(ed) to express? To whom do these texts speak? Who is the audience?
I am addressing these questions because I don’t know how to handle the discrepancy between the fact that we talk about gender theory, queer theory, oppression mechanisms, feminist solidarity (?); we talk about speaking up and speaking back, about how to not interrupt when others are speaking, while the loudest voices are always the same ones. Other ones are silenced, “not intentionally”, but they feel intimidated by the huge amount of knowledge of other ones. They feel that their knowledge is not the one required in classroom. Or they are not used to speak up. They didn’t learn it in their previous schools.
It is sad to notice, that even in a “reflexive” classroom, hierarchies are produced and reproduced. I feel that we have to admit more that we don’t know something. It is not a bad thing to not know all the time. In my opinion its much stronger to admit that you DON’T know than to show off with large, complicated statements. It is stronger to step back and to let other people speak. The more ego’s trying to impress other ones by using extremely academic language, the more the competition grows.
Competition is thriving some people, but poisoning and paralyzing others. In my opinion, competition always goes along with comparison – which is something really destructive for human beings. Comparison makes us self-critical and unsatisfied. The competition that I feel at this university until now, is huge. It’s not that I didn’t expect that. But the pression is really high. We are the privileged ones, the ones who got in, the ones who have to find answers to all these complex questions of the present. But what I realize is: The more I learn, the more I know, that I don’t know. I realize that most of us don’t know. Who knows the answers? We analyse, but we don’t know. And why do we act as we knew? Why don’t we admit more often that we are clueless?
I wish myself true EQUALITY – for all of us – and therefore more conversations about what we don’t know, about what makes us unsure, about what we could learn from each-others, about insecurities and weaknesses; about how we could improve equality at least in the actual space we are inhabiting. Here, not there; today, not tomorrow.