“lets take the figure of the feminist killjoy seriously. does the feminist kill other peoples joy by pointing out moments of sexism? or does she expose the bad feelings that get hidden, displaced, or negated under public signs of joy? does bad feeling enter the room when somebody expresses anger about things, or could anger be the moment when the bad feelings that circulate through objects get brought to the surface in a certain way? feminists might bring others down not only by talking about unhappy topics such as sexism but by exposing how happiness is sustained by the very signs of not getting along. feminists do kill joy in a certain sense: they disturb the very fantasy that happiness can be found in certain places. to kill a fantasy can still kill a feeling. it is not just that feminists might not be happily affected by the objects that are supposed to cause happiness but that their failure to be happy is read as sabotaging the happiness of others…
…feminist consciousness can thus be thought of as a consciousness of the violence and power that that are concealed under the languages of civility and love, rather than simply consciousness of gender as a site of restriction of possibility.“—sara ahmed, the promise of happiness
barbara kruger, your comfort is my silence, 1981
“liberated men needed groovy chicks who could swing with their new lifestyle: women tried. they needed sex: women complied. but thats all they needed from women. if a woman got it into her head to demand some old-fashioned return commitment, she was ‘uptight,’ ‘screwed up,’ or worse yet, ‘a real bringdown.’ a chick ought to learn to be independent enough not to become a drag on her old man (trans. ‘clinging’). women couldnt register fast enough: ceramics, weaving, leather talents, painting classes, lit. and psych. courses, group therapy, anything to get off his back. they sat in front of their various easels in tears.“—shulamith firestone, the dialectic of sex, 1970
“we can consider the relationship between the negativity of the figure of the feminist killjoy and how certain bodies are ‘encountered’ as being negative. marilyn frye argues that oppression involves the requirement that you show signs of being happy with the situation in which you find yourself. as she puts it, ‘it is often a requirement upon oppressed people that we smile and be cheerful. if we comply, we signal our docility and our acquiescence in our situation.’ to be oppressed requires you to show signs of happiness, as signs of being or having been adjusted. as a result, for frye, ‘anything but the sunniest countenance exposes us to being perceived as mean, bitter, angry or dangerous’…
…to be recognized as a feminist is to be assigned to a difficult category and a category of difficulty. you are ‘already read’ as ‘not easy to get along with’ when you name yourself as a feminist. you have to show that you are not difficult through displaying signs of good will and happiness.”
—sarah ahmed in the “feminist killjoys” chapter in the promise of happiness
this isnt just about being the cool girl. its also about feminist emotional subterfuge and an indication of why radical vulnerability is intimately connected to male privilege.
squeamish/sexist gallery owners who claim “i am not a prude, but…” and an amazing backstory make lynda benglis’s infamous artforum centerfold—a pitch-perfect commentary on what it took a woman to make it in the art world—even funnier. also sort of amused that she works in latex. love her.
take pictures! for jeannes clothing line! we also drink.
This ad campaign features real life radical feminists who kill joy all the time.
Lydia is a performance artist & scholar (oh and you might have see her naked at Marina Abramovic’s MoMA retrospective ‘The Artist Is Absent’). She’s modeling the classic turtleneck.
Alex, anarcha-feminist and my gay husband, models the hot new v-neck.
Let us take seriously the figure of the feminist killjoy. Does the feminist kill other people’s joy by pointing out moments of sexism? Or does she expose the bad feelings that get hidden, displaced or negated under public signs of joy? - Sara Ahmed
I am commandeering a feminist killjoy turtleneck army. Please enlist! Turtlenecks and other killjoy looks available here. New merchandise added regularly. If you don’t want such a statement piece, go here for a black, fair trade t-shirt by Means of Production.
Costs $15 including shipping (to U.S.) with all proceeds to benefit the feminist killjoy brunch fund. All items are one of a kind, lovingly worn (vintage chic!) and may show signs of rough and tumble feminist kiljoy warfare.