by Emily Mann
You feel it too?
What, so the trepidation I feel isn’t personal? You feel it too?
keep it to yourself, stay silent
they don’t want you to share
the isolations intentional
work alone, remotely
be by yourself
exhaustion from additional unpaid labour
avoid support networks
lest we connect the dots
realise how unfair
publically denounce complex puzzles
this is systemic, social
not a personal trouble
but how the fuck do we assemble
a collective carcass
to make the institution tremble?
that’s part of it too
remain in your solitude
don’t dare come together
to think it through
this problem of navigating the academy
it ain’t nothing new
they rely on your turning cynical
of losing faith in yourself
accepting the oppressive cues
thinking we are only but few
or a mechanisms of control?
speak up, voice concerns
regardless you’ll still face
this masculinised-militarised fight
for the production of knowledge
dependent for our survival?
identify and name it
don’t retreat and withdraw
be candid, be open
willing to listen and learn
“defensiveness makes us stupid”
engage and overcome it
dismantle and unfurl
the process is cyclical
learning and teaching
a mutual reciprocated flow
Cynthia Enloe said so
Feminism applies to all power structures
But only when it’s safe to disagree
is there strength in our vulnerabilities
to let our curiosity run free
let us change the dynamic
model something different
exfoliate the patriarchal shame
that’s intensified during this pandemic
our academy can evolve
collectively we can strategise
support each other, reform, grow
we must believe it
if we are to try and make it so.
“Poetry and IR. Alas, the combination doesn’t come swiftly to mind. But that is probably only because we (well, a lot of us) just haven’t yet crafted a wide enough variety of forms to express the subtleties and puzzles of political experience.
Emily Mann’s energizing poem underscores for me how intensely personal politics can be when viewed though a clear feminist lens – not only its values, not only its dynamics, but also its inequities, its oppressiveness – and, and, and politics’ potentials for genuine liberation through solidarity.
Thank you, Emily.
Professor Cynthia Enloe
Emily is a first-gen graduate researching power and policing. In the midst of her sociology PhD she teaches criminology, criminal justice and politics. She is elated with the judges’ description of her poem as “powerful in its combination of rage and hope.” Drop her an email on Emily.Mann@ed.ac.uk or follow her at @EmilyMann_ where she tweets about mental health in academia, living with PMDD and her dog Olive.