Paralysis is not an option

One of my professors, Dr. Rowley says “Paralysis is not an option.” (based on an idea by Gayatri Spivak). We were talking about the self-reflexivity and the critical eye that is a part of women’s studies, the constant checking to make sure that the way we are researching is not exploiting our subjects, that what we are writing is not contributing in some way to systems of oppression. How can we craft a reliable narrator, how do we engage certain people as being worthy of study? Who gets to be a moral subject? How do we trust our words if we believe, as Derrida tells us, that language itself is a problem?

At this point my professor stopped the class and said that while all these are important questions, “Paralysis is not an option.” We cannot let ourselves get paralyzed by these worries and concerns to the point of not being able to act. Yes, we must be self-critical and continually evaluate the work that we are doing, but we have to keep doing it. We cannot let our mistrust of language, for example, prevent us from writing anything. I have been thinking a lot about this, not only in regards to my academic work, but also about my creative writing and my personal life. It is a good mantra to keep myself moving, to not let my over-critical eye stop me from writing something or attempting something new. It reminds me to keep exploring different ways of looking, reading, writing.

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