It’s ironic that last week I was committing to a realistic sense of my capacity. Today, I’m rushing to get home from work by 7 pm, watching the oncoming dark brush the clouds’ pink blush with grey, and thinking about how I wish I could have it all. Not love, money and power, but family, work and activism. I’ve been working in feminist academia full time since 2005 and, in the last years, did my best to combine teaching, research and feminist movement-building. Looking back now, I’m not sure my choices were the right ones.
I gave immense energy and passion to my courses. As a demobilised activist, teaching became that space where I could do consciousness-raising, strategy-sharing and solidarity-building. When I inherited my Introduction to Women’s Studies class in 2006, I aimed to use it to build a cadre, a vanguard, an army, whatever you want to call it, of women and men I could call on and work with, who would go out there, with a thorough analysis, and be part of Caribbean feminism.
I pulled direct culture jamming into my assignments, and taught with an evangelical fervour that I wish I could still summon. I loved my students and I loved teaching. I attended as many women’s events as I could, partly out of the joy of going, partly to know what was happening on the ground, and partly because these events marked a community within which I felt political comfort, affection and belonging. I loved knowing the women who, with all their brilliance and flaws, were doing what they could to right gender injustice. These women also inspired me. Alas. Those choices don’t help me in academia, where you really gotta count your publications, because they are all that really count. Pressure.
The next couple of years are about publishing and baby Ziya (so say my bosses), and I feel guilty that the movement I feel so passionate about has to take a back seat from lack of sheer time and energy. I’ve stopped going to lots of events just to come home and spend family time with my husband and baby (well, mostly the baby). But I miss attending, supporting, learning from and being a part of organising. There is still so much about women’s lives that needs to change. Another mentor and grandmother of Caribbean feminism, Peggy Antrobus, tells me that women have life stages, and that that is okay. Other mothers tell me expect things to slip (avalanche, I think) and only focus on what you most need to get done. Still, I feel like I should be doing better. Focusing on one’s career can seem so selfish. Surely, like other women out there, I should be making more of a difference. Between family and work, is there time for activism? Is there a way to have it all? New choices are now upon me.