Resignation

Colleagues and killjoys,

It is with sadness that I announce that I have resigned from my post at Goldsmiths. It is not the time to give a full account of how I came to this decision. In a previous post, I described some of the work we have been doing on sexual harassment within universities. Let me just say that I have resigned in protest against the failure to address the problem of sexual harassment. I have resigned because the costs of doing this work have been too high.

This decision was difficult. The Centre for Feminist Research has been a lifeline and a shelter. We have together created a space within the institution that has been a space to breathe. It has been a space that is not populated by the same old bodies.

I want to thank in particular all the students I have been lucky enough to work with especially those who participated in the Feminist Postgraduate Forum and the Sexism Working Group. I read your letter, and I was filled once again with a sense of hope for feminist futures.

Resignation is a feminist issue.

I hope to write a post with this title once I have had time to reflect on what has happened and what has not happened.

Sometimes we have to leave a situation because we are feminists. Wherever I am, I will be a feminist. I will be doing feminism. I will be living a feminist life. I will be chipping away at the walls.

In solidarity,

Sara

About feministkilljoys

feminist killjoy, affect alien, angry queer woman of colour
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67 Responses to Resignation

  1. Sandeep Bakshi says:

    Dear Sara

    It is disturbing to learn that someone who does anti-racist, queer of colour feminism has had to resign under pressure from white establishment. You are not accountable to me or us (as a collective subject). It is only with utter sadness that I write this to you: You have been an inspiration and still are. The path that you’ve paved for us will always remember you as the source of light and queer shine. I will be following your blog and your FB page to keep in touch with the updates in feminist circuits.

    With all my best wishes Sandeep

    >

  2. Shabana Mir says:

    Warm wishes to you, and condolences to Goldsmiths. It is their loss, and I am certain this is a step you had to take for your commitment to your work against sexual harassment. I’ll also be following your work and updates.

  3. Sarah, in respect and solidarity

  4. Dear Sara, I came here this morning with tears in my eyes, after being ticked off by our event administrator for ‘disrupting’ an event by asking why only men spoke at it. I knew here I would find words and sentiments to describe how I was feeling and give me the scaffolding I need to believe in my actions. I am so sorry that your institutional scaffolding has failed you in this way, and I can only hope that your distributed network of scholars, fans, admirers, colleagues and disciplines lend strength to your arm in your demolition work.
    All the very best.
    Deborah.

  5. Roopali Mukherjee says:

    Sad, sad, sad. You are an inspiration and a badass. And, as you say, your work will continue wherever you do it. In solidarity, Roopali.

  6. aoifeschatology says:

    Love, respect, sincere understanding (and I do not regret for a second resigning from academia) … and a million thanks for being you. ❤

  7. Andy says:

    I know so many senior feminist academics who look down on student activists trying to fight sexual violence on campus and who would never put their necks on the line to help us out even in small ways. So it’s incredible to me that a well known academic like you would not only so vocally support students but make the decision to resign in protest. Thank you for what you’re doing. Maybe this will make other academics remember what feminism and solidarity looks like.

  8. justRMJ says:

    Reblogged this on justrmj's Blog and commented:
    I don’t know (excuse my ignorance) much about the context here but will be following now.

  9. Lucy Michael says:

    All too aware of the pressures on feminist work at universities, and saddened by the continued vilification of those who try to make the university a more inclusive progressive educated place. You have made a strong brave choice, and the message in it is clear. We will not be coerced into silence. Good luck and solidarity.

  10. Fernne Brennan says:

    It is a sad time for the institution but not a sad time for you. You are going through the next stage on the feminist journey, only God knows where that will take you. I am in awe of what you have done – so courageous. It gives many of us hope that when it comes to it we can challenge the institutions that maintain discrimination. Fernne Brennan, Senior Lecturer in Law.

  11. With respect, solidarity and admiration.

  12. Eileen Joy says:

    All I can say is, congratulations. The University is no longer hospitable to the work of the University, which now, and for a long time, needs, and has needed, to be elsewhere. I look forward to what you do next. In great admiration, Eileen

  13. mariegibert says:

    How sad but how unsurprising. I am immensely grateful to you for presenting this as a feminist decision. I resigned from my permanent position as a lecturer last summer – there were many problems at my institution but gender inequality was one of the most obvious. My resignation (and I agree that it is, sadly, a privilege to be able to do so) has obviously not had the same resonance – I hope yours does and that universities do, one day, take the issue seriously and recognise diversity is vital.

  14. broeck@uni-bremen.de says:

    bon voyage, sara, may your resolve and clarity carry you well! it IS goldsmith’s loss. sabine

  15. cstabile says:

    I am so very sad to hear this, but also inspired by your resolve in the face of institutional intransigence. Your departure isn’t just Goldsmith’s loss.

  16. You don’t have to die on anyone’ s hill. Thanks for your efforts in the struggle and keep being bold as fuck.

  17. Dear Sara,
    thank you for writing this, and I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been let down.
    I’m currently doing a PhD and will quit the academia as soon as I’ve finished. I know I’ll be seen as “just not tough/good enough,” but the reason I am quitting is sexual harassment. My supervisor harassed me for two years (during which time I’ve told many members of staff and none of them took me seriously or knew what to do). When I finally got help switching to a new supervisor and put in a complaint against the harasser, nothing happened to him, nor the sexist equality and inclusion officer, while I was rumoured about in the whole department, disliked because I ‘hurt my harasser’s feelings’, got my teaching taken away based on his rumours, had panic attacks every time I came to the department and eventually ended up in a really bad episode of depression. I will quit because I would like to have my mental health back and because I want to get to a place of more power to dismantle the oppressions within the academia. Quitting is a feminist issue 💪

    • still too scared to say my name in public says:

      Almost the same exact thing happened to me while in grad school. I went to the ombuds office and they had a file several inches thick on him already but said what he was doing wasn’t “actionable” because there was no touching involved. So I just kept on, doing all the avoidance and internalization that built into a crescendo of anxiety and depression. After years he issued me an ultimatum I could not accept. Refusal was the first sane thing I did in that program, the first time I respected myself after years of allowing myself to be humiliated. All I could do to claim my power in that space was to say “no.” No more. Quitting is a feminist issue.

      Thank you, Sara. I’ve followed your work and will continue to follow your work. You are a great scholar and advocate, and the world needs your work.

  18. Warm wishes to you, Sara.

  19. Respect and solidarity Sara Ahmed. A brave decision and a big loss for Goldsmiths.I hope your profile assists in bringing these issues to light and forces not just your institution but the sector to take a long hard look and make some meaningful changes – not the least of which should be reparations for those who have been impacted.

    ‘BlogforCaroline’s’ message above is a sad reflection of the ongoing consequences of calling out sexual harassment (or racism for that matter) and the travesty is that it is nearly always the victims who end up paying in the long run through ‘freezing out’, diminished career opportunities and other forms of subtle undermining.

  20. Thank you for sharing this. I just made the same difficult decision to resign my job in the face of a lot of things, not the least was an increasingly emotionally difficult work environment. I’ve been thinking about talking about this in a public manner, and haven’t quite figured out how. Or why. Or why not. Anyway, thank you for your bravery.

  21. Emir says:

    Best wishes to you Sara! Would you consider coming to Södertörn University? We would love to have you here, you would be among friends. 😀

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  24. Reblogged this on de frémancourt and commented:
    Sharing, in full solidarity.

  25. Kamaria says:

    Dear Sara, I ran across this post and it resonated with me. 9 months ago, I quit my job because of sexual harassment and the management did not take it seriously. It is so sad to see that sexual harassment is still not seen as important. I respect your decision for resigning. More power to you.

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  28. Professor Ahmed, what a brave decision, and what a loss for Goldsmiths. I hope scholars will start speaking out about this now. Thank you.

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  33. l‘etranger says:

    Dear Sara, just wanna say thank you to you. Joining your passionate lectures and activities you organised were such a wonderful and unforgettable experience, and i dare to say that I’m a feminist now. As your said, I will also be a feminist, and doing feminism in China! Wherever you are, hope you all well! Lili

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  35. Marijn says:

    What a brave decision! Feel embraced.

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  37. tinapj says:

    Reblogged this on fromthemindoftinapj and commented:
    As an Alumni of Goldsmiths College and follower/supporter of the Centre for Feminist Research based at the college, I am extremely disappointed that Professor Ahmed felt she had no pathway but to resign. Sexual harassment is a plague in society and Professor Ahmed was a beacon in the field of combating this scourge. The response from Goldsmiths, whilst I am assuming is legally bound up in red tape (and can be found on Linked In), is deeply unsatisfactory. I am now questioning my position in supporting the Centre, and should appreciate a statement from them dealing with this issue and with Professor Ahmed’s full statement on her blog, full statement to which I link in this post. Goldsmiths has always been at the forefront of intersectional feminism and sociological research. Has it truly become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the status quo? I sincerely hope not.

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  40. skyride says:

    Dear Sara,

    I saw you speak last year at NWSA. I’m deeply conflicted over the prospect of pursuing a career in academia (as if I have any chance of making it, really, hah). But your keynote struck at the heart of one of many aspects of the ivory tower that eats at me, the way those of us who brush up against walls, who point out the very existence of walls, how we are made into nuisances, ourselves harassers, how we are called paranoid. How we are called crazy. It’s really easy, I’ve learned, for people who are already sitting on top of or protected behind or garrisoning those walls to dismiss the likes me, out of hand, as crazy.

    Hearing you speak and then a few months ago reading On Being Included, I felt strengthened knowing that other people see them too, the walls. Other ‘feminist killjoys’ feel it in their gut and are taking their own approaches to figure out these walls, how to scale them, tear them down, undermine them. I still haven’t made up my mind if going onto a PhD program is a good idea. Frankly, I shouldn’t worry about it, since I likely won’t get accepted anywhere, anyway. If I don’t, I will be relieved of what I now recognize is something of a moral decision. Even in WGSS classes, we are taught that academia is highly individualistic and competitive, which I personally disavow. What chance does a Mad queer kid like me have in academia. [insert joke about white privilege here…?] Apparently, the ‘higher’ one advances in academia, the more one is confronted with situations related to things like individualism, competition, bullying… That these involve ethical choices seems evident to me. I know that many people, like you, have found ways to navigate these aspects of academia without succumbing to the ‘inevitability of becoming the system’– so I know it must be possible, on some level.

    Thank you for writing this post. What I’ve learned from your experiences as related here is that, even after pursuing goals within academia, it’s okay to leave. It’s okay to get out. It’s okay to take care of yourself. It isn’t true that getting PhD or gaining a tenure-track position is somehow like signing your life away, it is not some kind of guarantee that you will ‘become the system’. That is extremely reassuring to me. Thanks for this blog, and thanks for sharing your experiences.

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  49. With all my respect and admiration. A model of intellectual integrity and dignity I deeply admire. Thanks for your brilliant work and for this blog.

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