Feminist Agenda // Taylor Kirby
A few weeks ago, I was trying to write a piece about subverting societal expectations, the condensed version of which reads like this: for as long as I can remember, I’ve never wanted to get married or have kids.
My Barbies were more likely to die in action sequences than fall into what I percieved as the trappings of nuclear family life, and when I watched The Proposal, I enjoyed Sandra Bullock as a “bitchy,” antisocial New York editor more than as someone who learned to open her heart up to Ryan Reynolds and his warmhearted family. In short, I always aspired to be a workaholic who lived in her office and eventually made it home to check in with the cats.
I figured out why that column wasn’t working when we got to the Discipline and Punish unit of my Prison Systems and Social Justice class, and Michel Foucault reminded me that the more we try to individualize ourselves—the more we try to set ourselves apart from our community by further disciplining ourselves into specific skills and interests—the more firmly we entrench ourselves in the bondages of capitalism.
This is not an anti-capitalist thinkpiece. I won’t pretend that my three philosophy classes have prepared me to wax poetic about Karl Marx or his successors, and I still want a hysterectomy and a high-powered career. What Foucault did was remind me that oftentimes, the things we think set us apart from the crowd are actually the things that make us the most like everyone else. I was subverting exactly nothing.
I keep taking philosophy courses for no credit because I love being reminded that every thought I’ve ever had has been thought before, that the trajectory of my life has already been mapped in ideological frameworks many times over. Those classes inspire me to do more. It is not our thoughts or our desires that make us unique—our favorite TV shows don’t say as much about us as we would like to believe—but how we apply the knowledge and drives we cultivate in ourselves. If we truly want to individualize ourselves, we have to do something about it. Only action will set you free.