I believe in resistance, and I believe in knowledge as resistance.
When I look in the mirror I see a woman, a journalist, a bisexual and a potential voice – in that order. In my lifetime I have realised myself as all four of these things. But the first was one that I had to learn to reject before I could accept it as my own.
The most prominent and primary ‘me’ – woman – was knowledge that I had grown up with before all of those other things and it feels like a prehistoric skin. I didn’t realise it for myself when I grew up because it was presented to me, like clothes passed down through generations. During the past ten years I’ve shed it and found it for myself again.
I’ve decided to say “fuck you” to the knowledge about me that I have never found for myself. I’ve decided to use knowledge and research to subvert the dominant ideas that are presented in the media, about gender, identity, sexuality and sexual freedom. I want to make a case for research as resistance.
Extraordinary people with knowledge to change society
Action is crucial to social change. The actions of ordinary people – extraordinary people – bring important issues onto the agenda of journalists and news organisations. If it hadn’t been for the actions of people who petitioned the government, marched on the streets in the pouring rain, reached out to others to people who disagree and oppose them, we would not be having a referendum on the 25 May to repeal our Eighth Amendment. The constitutional oppression of women would not have climbed up the list of priorities for our national newspapers and broadcasters on its own.
Marriage equality wouldn’t have been spontaneously brought up over a cup of tea in Leinster House following a discussion about how to tackle the deterioration of trust in the Irish State (a conversation which likely never happened). Asylum seekers would have remained invisible in a rural town, out of sight out of mind, if people didn’t force national attention onto the state of our direct provision system. The people who are sleeping rough, homeless, and in danger of poverty rely on these same people to help them amplify their voice.
I’m in awe of these people. Their passion is inspiring. What I would like to contribute is my own passion for change, which is a passion for disruption through research.
Action with evidence, with investigation, with data, with tedious figures, with lived experiences, with the efforts of people and a method, with real language that rejects the passive academic voice – with collective research – is persuasive and loud. It can be shouted, presented, shared and argued for.
In my twenties, knowing that other people have done this before and have taken it upon themselves to investigate the structures of our society inspired me to look at myself and my environment with a critical eye. Having access to knowledge on the internet and in the library has allowed me to follow up my hunches and whisps of ideas with evidence. Having the support of others who understand and believe has given me courage to publish this research. Feeling a connection and a shared purpose with those extraordinary people gives me hope for resistance, and in my ability to contribute in the way that I feel best able to do so.
Ultimately, I would like to build a community of disruptive researchers and to pursue resistance through knowledge collectively. Nationally and without the academic pay wall. Challenging the structures of the media industry and giving form to the facts that already exist. And using this to change perspectives, policy, and practice. I see no reason why this can’t be achieved – I’m surrounded by extraordinary people.