i am just so feeling this right now
July 15, 2009 § 3 Comments
for women to talk about their own lives and experiences without being attacked. even sharing those things with an audience expected to be mostly sypmathetic, or at least expected not to fashion the author’s own words into a weapon to attack the author herself, is a risky and sometimes very dangerous act.
a lot of these problems seem to stem from a reluctance to give any deference to the person’s own account of their lives and experiences. we think that our academic skills, our research and our logic, can give us full and complete insight into and understanding of an issue – regardless of whether it is something that could ever affect our lives.
but there are things that you cannot understand until you have lived them, cannot learn unless you are taught by people who have lived them. whether it be the amount of hassle and difficulty caused by adding another separate medication to an already complicated pain management regiment for a person with a disability, or how the timing of bus transportation can dramatically increase child care costs for working single mothers – these things are learned most effectively from those who have experienced them.
so to enter a space where a person is talking about their own experiences and to tell them they are wrong, that they will not be affected that way, that it is not that big a deal, and that you know so because of your research or your logic – that is the opposite of learning. that is affirmatively shutting down discussions which could lead to learning. and it makes it much less likely that the person with experience – the person without whom you cannot learn the essential details of the issue – will be willing to participate in such a discussion in the future.