A week after the conference, I was reading an article on the website Jezebel about which pop star was or was not a feminist and I thought hmm what would the women I met at the feminist geography conference say about this debate, and would I agree with them or not. A few days later, my local newspaper was discussing changes to the city that they deemed “women friendly” and again I thought about the discussions I had at the conference and then re-read the article with those conversations in mind. I realized, slowly, that I was putting the conversations and debates around me in relation to what I heard and learned at the conference, including the informal chats during snack break, or on walks from the hotel to the campus.
It’s the encroachment into my daily life and stretching of my thinking that I’ve come to appreciate about the conference. Just the other day rather than ignoring an upsetting and disparaging remark a teacher friend was making about a parent, I was able to start a new line of conversation around women, trauma, and the impact of austerity measures on mothers and families. It wasn’t that I had suddenly become an expert on these matters but that the conference energized my desire to put feminist ethics to practice during the course of my day-to-day life. At times, the new language (and reinforced frameworks) I gained from the conference is able to help me make inroads into the conversations and activities around me. Other times my attempts to more actively use my knowledge leave me thinking about the gaps that are still present such as a deeper and sustained dialogue with critical race theory.
I am also celebrating slowness. I am a slow thinker and writer. But rather than saying this from a position of shame and asking for understanding, I am attempting to better claim and work within a slow rhythm: wait, think, reflect, act. In my research I have given myself permission to not let each conversation lead to a request for an interview, to be more still and notice what’s going on around me, and to wait and hang out rather than think about if I should leave because what’s happening today is not relevant to my stated research questions. I still have to figure out how to become a slow and productive writer, but I am thankful that the discussions at the conference gave me the awareness and confidence to do so.
I do however need to stop using the conference as an excuse to (over) indulge in using M&Ms/Skittles as a reward for being (semi) productive.
Bisola Falola
University Of Texas