[Feminism] brings to mind loud acts of refusal and rebellion as well as the quiet ways we might have of not holding on to things that diminish us. It brings to mind women who have stood up, spoken back, risked lives, homes, relationships in the struggle for more bearable worlds.

Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life, 2017, pp. 1

The Feminist Killjoy

In her groundbreaking work on happiness, feminist theorist Sara Ahmed asks us to think about the cultural work that happiness does. Against happiness – though not without pleasure, joy, friendship, and self-care – Ahmed insists that the feminist needs to embrace the killjoy.

A killjoy is willing to expose the violence and inequalities that form the foundation of social institutions. A killjoy is willing to critique the exclusions of feminism despite accusations of disloyalty. A killjoy knows that just because we are happy does not mean that we are living in systems that are just or equitable. A feminist killjoy is willing to disrupt the normative narratives—the taken for granted assumptions that shape cultural representations. Insofar as this course has provided you with the tools to critically engage with the everyday world, you have been developing the tools of the killjoy.

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