A Killjoy Survival Kit
Becoming a killjoy can feel, sometimes, like making your life harder than it
needs to be. I have heard this sentiment expressed as kindness: as if to say, just
stop noticing exclusions and your burden will be eased. It is implied that by
not struggling against something you will be rewarded by an increasing prox-
imity to that thing. You might be included if only you just stop talking about
exclusions. Sometimes the judgment is expressed less kindly: disapproval can
be expressed in sideways glances, the sighs, the eyes rolling; stop struggling,
adjust, accept. And you can also feel this yourself: that by noticing certain
things you are making it harder for yourself.
But the experiences we have are not just of being worn down; these expe-
riences also give us resources. What we learn from these experiences might
be how we survive these experiences. Toward the end of chapter 9 I raised the
question of survival. Here survival is how I begin; it is the start of something.
Survival here refers not only to living on, but to keeping going in the more
profound sense of keeping going with one’s commitments. As Alexis Pauline
Gumbs suggests, we need a “robust and transformative redefinition of sur-
vival” (2010, 17). Survival can also be about keeping one’s hopes alive; holding
on to the projects that are projects insofar as they have yet to be realized. You
might have to become willful to hold on when you are asked to let go; to let
it go. Survival can thus be what we do for others, with others. We need each
other to survive; we need to be part of each other’s survival.
To be committed to a feminist life means we cannot not do this work; we