“Concrete ways”: A juxtaposition between three meanings of the word ‘concrete’, when referring to complaints.

Concrete ways of making a complaint

A process is a group of steps that have to be followed, in order for a task to be properly developed or to achieve a particular goal. Amid its course there may be multiple options or paths that unlink others, as it involves many aspects, characters, etc, but the purpose is that in the end, the initial goal is accomplished.

Sara Ahmed, shows in the first chapter of her book “Complaint!” a flowchart that represents the process of a student complaint. In it can be seen the multiple outcomes of this same purpose and which will be the ideal end/solution for the complaint, also by showing the possible days each step will last.

Figure 1. “A clear route through” (Ahmed 2021: 32). 

This is a clear example of the ‘concrete ways’ that lead to the solution of a complaint. In this process every factor is taken into account with dignity, for instance if the student is satisfied, and if not, the process continues; there is a path that follows hierarchy, there are stated times for every step of it. As it is clearly designed, has to be clearly developed, one can’t skip a step, nor bypass an agent.

Nonetheless, in real life scenarios and experiences from many people, such as the ones told in Ahmed’s book, the fact that these processes exist and are part of the policies of different institutions does not guarantee that the complainant will be successful.

These concrete steps have to be understood, respected and defended by any active performer of the process. If the process, in this case a complaint, does not achieve its objective, it is because of the negligence of one of the parties, that interrupts the aiming flow of the action; and also, it lets infer that it is due to strategic and particular interests in slowing down or even ending up with the process.

The word ‘concrete’ in “Complaint!” and “Cat Calls of Berlin”

Concrete as a noun is: “a building material made from the mixture of broken stone, sand, cement and water, which can be spread or poured into moulds and forms a mass resembling stone on hardening.” As an adjective is: “relating to or involving specific people, things, or actions rather than general ideas or qualities”. And finally as a verb is: “to form (something) into a mass; solidify.” (All definitions retrieved from

The three uses relate and fit to the topic of “complaints”. Following, the relations between them will be exposed and also compared.For this purpose, the word “concrete” was searched among the lines of Ahmed’s book to see which uses did the author gave the word.

First appearance of the word concrete in the book “Complaint!”: Chapter 2, page 92.

“A wall gives concrete expression to an experience of being stopped. A wall can be thought of not only as hard but as slow. You can encounter resistance in the slowness of an uptake.”(Ahmed 2021, p.92).

Second appearance of the word concrete in the book “Complaint!”: Chapter 4, page 171.

“The more value is acquired by this figure, the more complaint is treated as self-revelation, the less attention is given to what complaints reveal: the structures, the walls, history made concrete.”(Ahmed 2021, p.171).

Third appearance of the word concrete in the book “Complaint!”: Chapter 6, page 226.

“Many who make complaints experience direct forms of retaliation. It can be hard to evidence such experience. Retaliation can be concrete (such as lower marks), but even then, to make that claim is often to be met with disbelief (he wouldn’t do that; it couldn’t be that).”(Ahmed 2021, p.226).

In these three segments, the word ‘concrete’ plays a role as an adjective for the word ‘expression’ in the first paragraph, in the second one it is qualifying the aspects that won’t have relevance when making a complaint, and in the third paragraph it connotes how retaliations after making a complaint can be manifested.

Ahmed constantly refers to this processes like talking to or dealing with walls, or rigid surfaces. As it is described in the first paragraph: “A wall gives concrete expression to an experience of being stopped.” Even though the use the author gave to the word was not related to the previously mentioned definition for the word ‘concrete’ as a noun, it relates to the stiffness, the impenetrability of some agents that take part of a system, and that this does not allow the proper and dignified development of a complaint. Additionally, the procedure to make a complaint can be understood as “concreting” something; in other words to solidify something, to make it tangible but unfortunately in many cases, it turns into something impenetrable and hard to deal with, just like as the concrete.

In other matters, the presence of the word ‘concrete’ in the movement “Cat Calls of Berlin” is more specific and notorious. Basically because the complaints are made explicit written on the concrete ways and it is easy to see through the gray color of their instagram feed.

“Cat calls of Berlin” is a movement exercised in an analogous way in public spaces, but it extends to its platform on instagram. It starts with the collection of different anonymous testimonies on street sexual harassment, then the team writes a piece of the testimony on chalk nearby the area they took place and then a photo of the testimony is uploaded on their social media for people to interact with.

Figure 2. Screenshot of the instagram feed of the account “Cat Calls of Berlin” (Parra 2021).

Whereas concrete is a strong material, that can not be easily manipulated under weak conditions, nor altered; it may guarantee a long maintenance of the complaints being made on it. In this case the word ‘concrete’ has the first advantage for complaints: works as a protector of a message amid the openness, free accessibility and exposure of it.

The concrete in this case is the medium, the dark canvas of this ‘artistic’ expressions against sexual harassment on the streets. These ‘concrete ways’ are inert agents that at the same time function as witnesses, if a much more poetic and advanced perspective of this problematic in public spaces is suggested.

Different meanings of ‘concrete’

Complaints are not easy and these procedures are not always the most clear tasks to be developed; even sometimes the intentions behind making these steps hard to comprehend and follow are notorious.

When it comes to human resources in any type of institution, they must guarantee the facilities, for every one involved in the system, to fulfill their needs and rights. When acts of harassment or abuse happen, it is already a traumatic experience, so: Why not stipulating ‘concrete ways’ to be followed for solving any type of problem? These institutional and systematic gaps only reveal negligence, personal profits, advantages over stabilization of the systems disguised as policies.

On one side, the word ‘concrete’ in Sarah Ahmed’s book, had the connotation of the quality of making impossible a process or an achievement that would dignify the victims; on the contrary, in the movement “Cat Calls of Berlin”, the word ‘concrete’ is represented as a protective agent. The surface and medium on which the complaints are carried through in this initiative is hard and difficult to be corrupted. 

Hence, the usage of the word ‘concrete’ while referring to complaints can have multiple interpretations: it can refer to the rigidness (like the material concrete) of the process itself, or how the recipient of the complaint seems to be; it may also refer to the concreteness, clearness and specific steps these procedures to make a complaint should embody, in order to make it more efficient.




As read in “Complaint!” by Sara Ahmed it is evident to see that many women have suffered harassment and abuse in the daily life scenarios. I include myself.

In my case it did not happen in places I concurred frequently such as school, university… 

I was either jogging at a park near my home or taking the public transport in my hometown.

I translated the hardest and most traumatic parts of these two experiences and placed them into typographic pieces.

Image 1. Poster, Personal Testimony 1, Weimar, 2022, Parra.

Image 2. Poster, Personal Testimony 2, Weimar, 2022, Parra.

“Cat calls of Berlin”, the “Chalk art movement against street harassment”

Gabriela Parra Sánchez

1. Introduction of “Cat calls of Berlin”:

It has been shown that social media, and mostly an app like instagram, is a wide space with questionable boundaries, in which a lot of bullying and harassment can happen, but also it can be the platform where one can report acts of hate and abuse – towards women and LGBTQ+ people, in the majority of the cases.

In November I was talking to a friend that lives in Berlin about my COMPLAINT!ivism? course, the topics we discuss about, the book we are getting our input from and the learnings I get from reading the blog. I told him about the second task and he sent me this instagram account and said: “give it a look, it might be of your interest.”

I am talking about “Cat calls of Berlin” @catcallsofberlin. Forehand I didn’t know what “catcalling” meant, it sounded like a very tender name to me for such an act.

It is “the act of shouting harassing and often sexually suggestive, threatening, or derisive comments at someone publicly”. (1) But still it was not clear enough to me why is it called catcalling?:

“It’s called “catcalling” because it’s associated with those verses that are usually made to call cats, and bring them closer”. (2).

According to this the name of the account “Cat calls of Berlin” exposes the sexual threatens and comments that people have received in the streets of Berlin, and as they state it on their instagram biography, it is a Chalk art movement against street harassment.

It is an initiative carried out both digitally and analog on the streets from multiple cities, and its aim is to expose different harassment experiences through comments. People first share their testimonies anonymously through instagram direct messages, then the team writes a piece of the testimony on chalk nearby the place it happened and then post a photo of it, in addition to a screenshot of each testimony.

At first, even though I didn’t understand exactly what every message in every picture meant, I could imagine the heaviness of emotion every post carries. Not only because of the remembrance of that specific situation in which the victims were put into, but also because out of this exercise, victims are able to build empathy and advise others which places they were harassed in. This allow women, and everyone, to know in advance that something like that happened just right there, in that specific street, corner, whatever it was.

2. Deeper analysis of “Cat calls of Berlin” and its impact:

Although this movement was born in NYC, I wanted to focus on the Berlin’s account for some reasons:

Mainly because it is a city I frequent a lot, and even though I recognise I am in a more open and advanced culture towards the one I was born in, one may think that this type of comments or abuses are not that common in here, but through this account we can evidence that it has nothing to do with the place, its the people that provide this scenarios.

Reading these comments has reminded me the times I have been exposed to these types of comments; because of the way I was dressed, because of walking really late by my own, or even because I was talking in Spanish and just because I am latina makes them think I like to be exotized or approached in a vulgar/sensual way.

I haven’t faced such a comment in Berlin until now, but it triggers me that it can happen to me any day and I don’t know what to answer back nor how to react. Language is still a struggle to me and I will be surely shocked.

It was also sad to read many testimonies from really young girls ages 12, 13… To see how vulnerable women are still on the streets but hopefully there will always be someone that empaths with your experience and maybe they’ll make art out of it to encourage others and show they are not alone. Testimonies in the page oscillate from comments like: “Ey Puppe, willst du was machen?” “Hey sweety, do you wanna do something? (Posted on the 20.10.2021)”, to “Den Arsch will ich an mir spüren” “I want to feel that ass on me” (Posted on the 07.06.2019).

On one side, in these cases the victims are attacked by people they might have never seen before or even won’t see anymore. On the other side, the testimonies that appear in Ahmed’s book “Complaint” the victims and aggressors had already stablished- relationships such as: professor-to-student, boss-to-worker and so on. Which, I reiterate, does not make the experiences any more or less valid, nor traumatic, it is just a comparison to show that no matter the level of relation towards another person, if there is no consent, it is abuse.

In addition, by analyzing some aspects of this movement (which I really value and admire), I realized that the messages are written in chalk on the streets and as is know chalk can be easily erased by rubbing on it, or with the rain as it’s exposed to an open environment. It is not a material that permits that the message stays for a long time or even permanently; though the damages and the trauma are already permanent.

The purpose of the movement is to commemorate this situation even if it is not done justice in its totality, since its purpose is more to condemn this type of events and in a certain way to mortalize these acts in the space in which they were carried out, showing support for the victims. It is not their obligation to make this ‘art’ permanent, but I wonder if the reason for is to be written on chalk has to do with a fear against banning or another type of reason that won’t allow this to continue.

Of course to read this on the streets causes uncomfortableness to the eye and the dignity, but it is necessary to spread the word and the fact that it happens. Perhaps not to everybody, perhaps just to the unlucky ones, just to some unlucky cats.

Furthermore, I noted also that not all messages are written explicitly. It may be due to a restriction given from instagram under its terms in order to make the post available for everyone, or even for keeping respect on the streets, as children may read them. Which also concerns me in a way, because abusers do not have any type of respect while

doing this type of comments and they are always very explicit; but when one gets the chance to expose and denounce it, it has to be narrowed for it to be reached. In a sense, the abuser has freedom, while the victim must restrain herself/themselves.

Here I show two examples of what just was mentioned:

Posted on the 19.12.2021

Screenshot of @catcallsofberlin in instagram

Posted on the 04.01.2022

Screenshot of @catcallsofberlin in instagram

3. Conclusions and perspective after this exercise:

These types of initiatives on social media permit the spreading of warnings towards scenarios of this kind (like the ones we were able to read along the lines of “Complaint” by Sara Ahmed), as it instantly catches the eye of the pedestrians and will leave a temporary mark on the space due to the unfortunate events that happened right there. Still, the experienced harassment from the victims will never be fully portrayed and the abusers are not being loudly called nor exposed. Even though abuse happens both indoors or outdoors, in both cases one feels trapped, in presence or in absence of walls.

The “catcalling” is normalized in many specific cliché scenarios: out of a bar, near constructions, mostly near men-crowded places. But this exercise shows that it happens anywhere. There is no guarantee that one can come back home without receiving one catcall in the same day, nor even measure of the types of comments: it does not matter to the abuser if you are a 14, 18 or 25-year-old. They are going to act that manner anyways. There is no respect at all.

“Cat calls of Berlin” contributes to the exposure of harassment and abuse event but still it is not enough because abusers are not exposed fully. You are not given a name, nor a face. It may be an interesting outcome for the followers to be able to give a face to every executer of this disrespectful comments. Probably, it can warn the audience in a more direct way and perhaps it is someone you may know: it can be your neighbour, your teacher, your relative.



The movement has surpassed borders and it is possible to find accounts for multiple cities; including: New York, Boston, Brighton, Buenos Aires, Brussels, Rio de Janeiro, etc; and in Germany: Weimar, Bielefel, Bayreuth, Bonn, Bochum, Bamberg among others.

To visit their instagram page:

To visit their twitter page:

Website of the organisation behind this initiative:







Part III of “Complaint!” by Sara Ahmed is called “If these doors could talk?”

During the two chapters contained in this part, various testimonies are told in which doors have represented a role amid sexual harassment and assault situations, encounters of oppression and misuse of power in different institutions, mostly against women.

In some examples, the infrastructure of the places where such violence occurred was justified as allowing the abuse to take place or even used as a weapon against the victim. For example: if the space between the oppressor and the abuser was too narrow, then the victim won’t come out of the room easily.

My concern was, how in many situations the behaviour of someone is justified by the scenario in which the scene occurred, if there were witnesses or not, if their reputation doesn’t match with the acts, among many other things. I also related this questions with the name of Part III of the book: What if all of those doors of the rooms in which once many misconducts and violations have occurred could talk? What would they say? Who would they put into the spotlight? What would change in the institution?

But what if the door and its big role had a shift? What if all of these doors were made of glass? And everyone around could have seen through. Would the oppressor acted the same way? Which would have been the outcomes of the different violences? Also, would anyone dare to force a violent act against the door knowing how fragile it is?

This also leaves me a question on if these barriers were more transparent and the physical infrastructures of institutions were reformed, then would people act completely different? Their actions would be justified if there were witnesses or not. But most importantly, injustices will be visible for everyone.

And at some point it seems to be what most matters when doing a complaint… if you don’t show enough proof, if there is not any witness, if there is no footage to support your complaint then it is not viable.

I made a poster to support the big question Part III of the book left in my head.

Image 1. Poster, “IF THESE DOORS COULD TALK? WERE MADE OF GLASS?”, Weimar, 2021, Parra.

“Migration + Complaining”

A personal reflection on migration 

In part II: “The immanence of complaint” of the book “Complaint!” by Sara Ahmed, some examples regarding migration were pointed out to show how complaints are related with this phenomena and this precise topic opened a new vision of understanding complaints for me.

Throughout the reading of the book, I have asked myself in which situations have I made complaints, if the environments were safe, if my complaints were good and fair enough; also, in which ways have I complained in the past that were not necessarily through verbal means, among many other questions. I doubted in my interior: “is emigrating a way to complain?” and that question has been following me for 2 weeks and now, I want to break this idea down, understand it and try to find an answer.

(Understanding emigrating as leaving one’s own hometown/country to settle for a permanent or long time in another). In my experience, I emigrated from Colombia to Germany because I wanted to pursue my studies abroad. Besides of all of my reasons to have chosen Germany as the country in which I would started to study, and all of its influence on my specific career (graphic design); the insurance of a higher quality access to study, a better future and a better panorama of what my working life would be, were also big part of the motives to have decided to begin with this journey.

All of this could have not been possible without the finance of my parents of course and the privileges I have access to. 

In my case to emigrate was a decision, taken based on the environment I was being formed into and how I do not fit in it. It was not that I was forced to. It was not that I had no other option; which I know is the only reason some people have to emigrate. It was my choice to come and in some way try to find the place I feel I belong to.

“You might make a complaint because you do not want to remain in that situation; a complaint can be an effort to get out of a situation you are in.” (Ahmed, 103). Even though a wide part of my personality and identity is influenced by latinx culture, I was not really connected to the environment I was born in. I left Colombia maybe to unconsciously stop that feeling and to allow myself to find the places, people and new experiences with which my beliefs and principles are aligned, and the previous quote of the Chapter 3 “In the thick of it” made me realize that.

Of course many of the aspects that bothered me about my city and my country: including the insecurity in the streets, especially for a woman my age, the inequality and many other sad realities that fortunately I have not had to live: hunger, corruption, violence at all levels, the complete abandonment of the government, among many others, still bother me to this day. And every time I have the chance to complain even in the distance, I take it. Every time something happens and I feel the need to express it through words or with my art I do it. But the part that confronts me is when as a consequence of my words comes the typical: “you don’t even live here anymore” as if once you emigrate you’re not allowed to complain.

I have to admit it: in the past I also did that comment. I also was that person that said: “if you left in the first place, then why do you care now?”. Well, Gabriela of 2013, because it is still a part of them!!!. Every problematic still touches their roots, their families, the things and people they know; basically it affects their realities in most of the cases. Just because they leave, it doesn’t mean it stops being part of their stories, and that’s my story too now. The things that I didn’t like before are still happening and as they are not fair, I still have the right to complain.

It is hard enough to be an immigrant. One does not belong completely to any of both places, which make us feel sometimes as passengers, or something on the line. The following quote retrieved from Chapter 4 “Occupied” describes what I exactly feel:

“A misfit occurs when the environment does not sustain the shape and function of the body that enters it.” (Ahmed, 140). 


“WHYMAR” – a series of photos in Weimar while I complain about why I am here (and not in Berlin).

WHYMAR. 2021. Parra.
  1. Me + Tote Bag “Why”. Early this year i casually designed some tote bags that say WHY. Maybe it was my unconscious expressing the feeling I had when I moved from Berlin to Weimar and could not start my studies there. This picture was taken by a friend of mine while I was sitting waiting for him.
  2. The place I learn in. Since 2018 I was manifesting my desire to pursue my studies in Germany, mostly to have the chance to get in touch with the Bauhaus somehow. Life has been so magical that I’ve had the chances to be in the places I’ve always wanted. Life shakes me and moves form place to place. This picture was taken by me in the room of Graphic Design in M1. (please don’t misunderstand me. i feel very fortunate and the proudest to be studying here.)
  3. The place I live in. I feel very grateful to have the chance of having my own safe space and have all the privileges I have. I started living in this new room since Oct.2021 and it is the place where I have lived where I have felt the best. It is big, bright and I really feel at home in here. This picture is of my desk.
  4. The road to Weimar. This year I stated as a purpose to travel to Berlin as much as I can. I’ve done it 2 times since I said it would be a goal from now on until I finally go back and live there. The feeling that I embody every time I am on the road in the highway going out of Berlin is something I can not explain with words, but even though I try to explain it I know it is hard that someone relates to that emotion. I took this picture on my trip Berlin-Weimar the 01.11.2021.
  5. Things I do. Last Sunday my roommate and I decided to explore our creativity in a more analog/crafty way so we decided to take out some paper, watercolours and start drawing. We decided the topic was Weimar. She represented in her own way what Weimar means to her. Mine was more of a rebranding of the city’s name and what it causes me. This picture contains the final result of our drawings.
  6. Things I feel. As autumn settles in and winter approaches, nostalgia is also coming to Weimar to knock my door. I love the cold, but it doesn’t feel the same if it’s shared. I am still adapting myself to the seasons, as im adapting too to many other changes. This photo was taken yesterday at 16:45 and I wanted to send it to my parents to show them how homesick this panorama made me feel.

“Therefore I complain” – a poem.

Weimar. 2021. Parra.

I complain because of the remain

of emptiness of this chapter that caused me so much pain.

I complain also for this not to maintain,

cause every tear I’ve dropped just morphs into rain.

And i am sick to contain

this body from drowning again.

Should I stay forever this lain?

I know this will keep tormenting my brain.

Even though I know it is uncertain

I just don’t want to over-explain.

Therefore i complain.

A poem I wrote amid the lines of Sara Ahmed’s book Complaint! 

I got inspired by the feeling that drove me into situations in which I felt so saturated by a specific experience and I just felt the need to explode and say it outloud but at the same time I didn’t want to be repetitive or simply to be a fuss to anyone in my surrounding.

This also makes me think that I am not the only person that has felt this and maybe it is one of the reasons most people avoid making a complaint or even speak up when they feel uncomfortable with something.


“Lost in the system” – a poster.


““lost in the system”.”
“If you have to complain because of failed processes, you have to enter yet more failed processes.“
(Ahmed 2021, p. 96)

A complaint can often end up leaving you even more deeply under the influence of the organization because what you need to survive organizations can be what they can provide. 
(Ahmed 2021, p. 99)

“The consequences of rubbish systems for keeping track of things are very different depending on who or what is being tracked. Strategic inefficiency can be how some disappearances are not counted by being deemed “lost in the system.” If you have to complain because of failed processes, you have to enter yet more failed processes.” (Ahmed 2021, p. 96).

The previous piece was taken from chapter 2 “ON BEING STOPPED” of the book Complaint! by Sarah Ahmed, and those specific words were the inspiration to make  this A1 poster, which’s aim is to criticize the way in which the process to make a complaint turns into due to the incompetency and neglect of the systems we have to deal with.

A paper bin was chosen to simulate the system itself or more specifically, the place where complaints are supposed to end up at. A spacious, “transparent” container in which more complaints can come into: “there is space for everyone”. The paper balls are of course the complaints of each individual, but they are obviously treated as trash, wrapped up and thrown among other garbage. And here I want to connote that often complaints are not even filed or archived to be proceed in even far futures… they are just treated as trash.

“A complaint can often end up leaving you even more deeply under the influence of the organization because what you need to survive organizations can be what they can provide.” (Ahmed 2021, p. 99). This phrase appears at the end of the poster to point out that your complaint can end up really under many other (not necessarily more important) processes, because normally these institutions have no interest on helping, guiding, whatsoever providing you a solution, regarding your complaints on their behaviours or proceedings. 


“On being stopped” – a 7 A4 posters serie.

Through the reading of chapter two of the book “Complaint!” by Sarah Ahmed I affirmed many of the thoughts that come into my mind when questioning myself on how societies work and are built up. Some of these are often related to the abuse of man-power in different institutions which was the common denominator in many of the experiences of neglect towards complaints reported by the author on this occasion.

As I saw myself once again in positions of many of the women of these stories I felt that there has to be something so rotten and unviable and disgusting in our society to keep being this much of conformists and keep allowing injustices in any space, not just in big scenarios such as institutions, universities, but also between relationships, from any type; on how reduced we can feel ourselves when we make a complaint and not being able to see how basic it is to ask for respect.

I highlighted some phrases/quotes that I liked from this chapter and tried to make something out of it. As I study Visual Communication and graphic / typographical poster design happen to be one of my passions I designed a 7 A4 posters serie. Each poster contains a quote I chose. 

1. PWBP / IWBI. 2021. Parra
“procedures will be procedures! 
institutions will be institutions!” 
(Ahmed 2021, p. 73)

This two phrases are the clear example of what conformism sounds like to me. And while doing a complaint many doubts can come on the way that finally may lead to conformism. The action of standing in the same point without having any expectation on the result, which is, in other words, ”being stopped” – the title of chapter 2.

“Evidence of the difficulty of a process can also be used to try to stop someone from entering that process.”
(Ahmed 2021, p. 75)

Ahmed offers these words by pointing that warnings often frighted people, and fear is also a mean of control. Really powerful I may say. When you have to face a process but previously see how tedious it is going to be, you just want to give up.

3. SOMETHING. 2021. Parra
“You can stop people from doing something by making it harder for them to do something.”
(Ahmed 2021, p. 78)

This quote perfectly fits with the previous one. 

While you recognize blockages, burdens, doubts and lack of companionship during a process, there is no reason left to pursue it, no matter how significant and dignifying it may be, the future and end do not seem to be prosper.

4. CONTAMINATION. 2021. Parra
“A complaint can be deemed dangerous because it can contaminate those who touch it.”
(Ahmed 2021, p. 82)

When a complaint involves various parties in a previously corrupted environment, it just does not put anyone in a fructose position because maybe many hidden and past situations may come to light through the process and can condemn the involved ones into new / not-so-convinient situations.

5. EXPLOSION. 2021. Parra
“You let a complaint be expressed to avoid an explosion.”
(Ahmed 2021, p. 84)

Sarah Ahmed mentioned this phrase to point out the perspective that a complaint often has a role of a valve that lets something scape to the air and then it just suddenly disappears, by avoiding an inner explosion.

I partially disagree in this case because I consider that a complaint can potentially cause an explosion if it is managed in the desired way. To make clear my point I am going to use an example: my boss has sexually harassed me. I proceed to make a complaint and it is utopically taken into account. My complaint is studied and proven. He gets fired and everyone gets notified the reason why. More people at my same job start reporting and exposing other sexual abuses in our field. The bomb now has exploded. My complaint was taken into account and has led to more people make their own complaints.

6. SHOUTING. 2021. Parra
“If you have to shout because you are not heard, you are heard as shouting. If you are heard as shouting, you are not heard.”
(Ahmed 2021, p. 89)

In my perception, there shouldn’t be a need to shout in the first place, but of course as some are in higher positions, the ones in the bottom are hard to be heard. Everyone should be heard at any context. Here it is possible to recognize how inequalities cause so many gaps, also seen throughout the spacing of the words in the poster. 

7. RESISTANCE. 2021. Parra
You can encounter resistance in the slowness of an uptake.
(Ahmed 2021, p. 92)

Ahmed makes this appreciation by comparing the process of doing a complaint with a wall. When there is a blockage, when something needs to be stopped. However, this does not mean that it is the end, one must wait to the the outcome of this difficult processes. And finally I interpret this sentence as the author wanting to say that resistance comes not by tearing the wall down, but thought the capacity of keeping on track without giving up.


Reflection of minding the gap.

Sara Ahmed’s book “Complaint!”’s first chapter “Mind the Gap! Policies, Procedures, and Other Nonperformatives” relies and focuses in the concerns Ahmed has encountered with institutional processes while making a complaint. At the same time the author points out the position in which the complainers see themselves involved in during this processes, and how tedious they are, because at the end it just seems that systems and institutions create and establish procedures for anything but complaining. Parallel, some testimonies of failed complaints are described to enrich the discussion on how policies do not benefit those who they should benefit.

While reading the first chapter of “Complaint!”, and punctually having the chance to get to know various stories from different people and complaints they have made in past opportunities, I would just kept thinking on the times I have made complaints, also the times there was a reason no matter how small to make a complaint and I doubted making it, or even the multiple times I have bypassed the chance to make a complaint just because of my non-intentional ignorance. 

I also feel like sometimes the “strategic inefficiency” (Ahmed 2021, p. 28) is so evident, and clear, and irrefutable that we tend to avoid the burden of starting a process which’s journey does not promise any benefit or which’s end won’t come any easy.

As an immigrant-student I can say that this experience will mostly lead to situations in which one can get lost easily between mountains of papers and tons of extended words, that at the end blurres the exquisiteness of getting into a new culture and challenging itself into the wildness of being valued, while coming from a country which historically has be minoritized.

Even when my experience with bureaucracy in Germany (compared to other immigrants’ I know), can be categorised from 1 to 5 being 5 good and 1 bad as a 5, I can say firsthand that it is overwhelming. To this, let’s add that in any personal/bureaucratic/administrative process communication is the basis, and if one of the parties has difficulty with the language, for example, that prevails in that situation, the ball is now in the opponent’s court. Therefore when language is a barrier and you find yourself in a vulnerable position, it would be very audacious of me to make a complaint. Right?

Am i allowed to complain if I am not German? Do I have the same rights? And if so, am i allowed to make it with my broken German? Are they even going to understand me?

Such questions cross the minds of many of us, so I pretty much identify myself with the situations Ahmed described in this opportunity. A complaint is a messy process, not just because the ending will always seem unreachable, but also because –“Even if you can use a policy as evidence to support a complaint, it does not guarantee you will succeed.” – (Ahmed 2021, p. 43)

Complaints compromise rights and legal processes, but also empathy and emotions in my point of view. “Complaints are personal as well as institutional.” – (Ahmed 2021, p. 38).

As appears in page 48 “You swallow it”. Those single three words describe the need to end something and not even give it a chance to be digested. Often we see injustices and we just have to get along with them, how? Easy. By swallowing them. But when you swallow you don’t disintegrate each part, nutrient, benefit of it. You take the life out of it. And that is mostly how it feels to be part of a minority in such a powerful environment. It just takes the life out of you.

As a future visual communicator I identify the importance to show emotions and experiences  in a more graphic way when language and culture are obstacles. For this purpose, I have decided to accompany this reflection and the feeling left by reading the first chapter “Mind the Gap! Policies, Procedures, and Other Nonperformatives” with two photographic representations of how the process to make a complaint doesn’t looks but feels like.

Foto 1. “Process to make a complaint”. 2021. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license
Foto 2. “Process to make a complaint 2.0”. 2021. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license