Friday, 8 April 2011

Friday Feminist - Samantha Sacks

Cross posted

After a thousand different questions from me regarding the role of feminism in Honduras, the relevancy of academics, and who they would or would not accept money from, and under which circumstances, the group's leader, Gloria Reina Santos Montes, asked me with a cold stare why I am a feminist.

And this is what I said ....

Feminism is about change, about a redistribution of power. It is about challenging the status quo. It is call for the redefinition of the family, the mosque, the temple, the church, the synagogue, and of love. Change is threatening to those of us who wield power and those who do not. And because it is threatening, it is electric and alive and powerful and I want to touch it.

And Gloria Reina Santos Montes stared at me, from her world that looked like Eden fixed between a garbage dump and a Coca-Cola billboard, and said (and I paraphrase) ...

"I don't care what you call it. I just want to feed my babies and maybe someday shit in a toilet."

Then the world stands still. The earth stops spinning, the sun shines in one single long ray and except for my pulse throbbing gently in my ears, silence is everywhere. For a wrinkle in time I'm breathless and speechless and I want to puke because no matter how many post colonial, post-modern binary pedagogies I suck from the lily white asshole of some underexposed academic, YOU CAN'T THEORIZE BREAKFAST.

Hungry children are not concerned with political nuances.

Where is the value of my course in Strategic Adjustment Policy in this land where the Americanowned Standard Fruit Company is mother's milk, the juice of life, fueling the Honduran economy while matricide pulses through the blood of the people? Who do I think I am in this wild west armed only with a university degree?

And Gloria Reina Santos Montes and I lock eyes and I recognize what it is I have seen in her stare from the moment we met. She knows me. She was expecting my armament of questions, my textbook sensitivity. She has merely been watching to see if I will recognize myself. If I will catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirrors that are her eyes.

And now that I have, what will I do? Will I escape from this parallel universe, slinking away, tail between my legs in search of a more comfortable reality? Will I return to fill my head with someone else's words? Until I forget the hot green stink of the earth and those omniscient eyes, my thoughts sterilized and sanitized, my brain rocked into an academic stupor by the embryonic lull of saniflush? Or perhaps I will go home to twist and bend and shape my words until, like bulimic consumption and eruption of meaning, I can purge my mixed-up self. And pass it on to you.

So as I stand before you, my bones racked with the ache of expulsion, perhaps we can build a bridge, or do something lyrical and metaphorical and uplifting. That will make us all feel better. Conflict resolution. Or closure, or some such thing.

Or maybe, for a brief moment, we will take a breath between the spewing forth of academic bile. Because if somebody says the word "problematic" one more time, I'm going to scream. A silent beat between syllables. In our ugly language, our long vowels that reek of imperialism. We will stop and shiver as a gust of reality makes this comfortably heated room seem cold. And know ourselves.

And now the shimmering edges between questions and answers become blurred, wavering in the stifling heat of revelation. And I'm still wondering ....


Samantha Sacks, "Why are you a feminist?", CWS/cf 17 (2), 1997, pp. 143 - 144.

I have been unable to find any information about Samantha Sacks on-line. The article from which this quote is taken says: "Samantha Sacks is a recent graduate of York University, with an honours degree in English Literature and Women's Studies. She is an avid rock climber and inveterate traveller, having travelled extensively in South East Asia and Central America. She is currently in the Phillipines where she is planning to combine her interests to make documentaries on rock climbing, nature, and the status of women."


Sandra said...

That is fantastic. Beautifully written and achingly true.

Julie said...

V timely for me, thanks Deborah, well chosen as always!

Deborah said...

Jackie left an interesting comment over at my place:

And so it ever was. The people who fight for justice stare across the abyss at the people they are trying to get the justice for. The people who are trying just to survive, and have neither the time, nor the energy, to think about their plight in larger terms. It doesn’t mean that the justice seekers should stop seeking.