Over the last years I have remained silent about my job and my experiences in STEM as a women who struggles with disability. My job has a policy which forbids me to speak about the internal workings of the school on social media.
When hired, the first thing the department asked me to leverage my following to promote it as a welcoming place for women. When I authored a follow up post months later more speculative in nature, my views meet hostility. Neither of these posts ran against the terms of my employment. They discussed my subjective feelings, not the business of the college or specific situations. The message rang clear. My activism had to reflect their, sometimes even personally held, values, even if my experiences remained denied in the process. For two years I’ve existed, subverted, pushed and challenged this system. I have not written about or shared my experiences. I have stayed silent.
Here we arrive.
My activism does not look like an institutions’ views. My lived experience, by definition, unfolds resolutely singularly. To force an activist to deny the messy, chaotic, procedural knowledge gained from working within a community cuts them off at their heart. It also damages the institution as it keeps it from retaining and learning from the experiences of the individuals within it. It’s a mutual act of destruction and a purposeful limiting of change.
As a result of my experiences with the college, I distance the non-profit I lead, Code Liberation Foundation, from functioning within the confides of this structure and center it outside the formal academic environments. Code Liberation teaches women and non-binary individuals to program games and creative applications for free. We mentor people to become leaders in the creative landscape. While we associate ourselves with the college through a use of resources, we do not endorse it.
The same oppressive forms which culturally keep women out of STEM mirror formal academic structures. The economic reality women, specifically under privileged women, face sits squarely against any fee based educational model. This should come as a surprise to no one. My own naive understanding of Educational institutions as home for progressive social practices developed into a deeper understand of systemic oppression during my employment within the UK.
After two years of working within this system, my sense of self cracks and breaks under the strain of dealing with policies inflicting harm through their execution.
While academics live largely forbidden to speak about what goes on within this and other similar systems, there remains no policy against the creation of creative work expressing their realities.
This post announces a new speculative fiction modeling project. The content differs but the affect remains the same.
I invite women and activists in academia to create speculative fiction and games about their experience of enacting anti-capitalist, intersectional values within state and government supported institutions for publication.