“In practice, noneperformativity means the same practice. If the policy is treated as if does not exist, it does not come into use.” _ Sara Ahmed. policies that are just sitting there might as well be a key for some institutions to get positive press when asked about their existing policies or asked to change their policies. This doesn’t necessarily mean the implement of a brand new policy made buy someone who can take responsibility, but in many cases the disposal of what they consider a problem meaning the person who is complaining rather to dispose the real problem the complaint was about. It’s not which organization you belong to or work for that matters, it’s about what you believe in and how far you are willing to go. “An experience of sexism and misogyny becomes more difficult to process because to recognize what is going on can mean giving up a belief in an organization.” Sara Ahmed. we are dealing just with words, names and propaganda. Just because an organization claims that it’s doing a certain good towards something doesn’t necessarily mean that it supports that cause. Unfortunately many of those organizations are possessed by the same people who would shut the complaints and the complainers down and rather use those complaints to showcase that their doing something about it and celebrate their vage achievements.
“when necessary, we can organize worlds in other ways. It should not take a global pandemic to learn that lesson.”_ Sara Ahmed. yet I wonder why history keeps repeating itself. “It is my theory they have been putting in the long finger and pulling this out, dragging this out over unacceptable periods of time, to try and tire me out so that I will just give up.”_ Anonymous Student. It is crucial not to give up. Reminding ourselves why we are complaining, for whom we are complaining, and how we are complaining, becomes the fuel that thrives us further to fill that silence and void between the complaint and the outcome of a hard procedure.
In many cases the very experiences one needs to complain about, are the same experiences that make it difficult to one express themselves. This is why making a complaint about harassment can provoke the same feelings one was going through during the incident. Not to mention the effects on your mental and physical health. As Sarah Ahmed anonymously quotes one of the academics she interviewed, “The body of the complainer is a testimony to the work of complaint”. So if the body is the manifesto of that complaint, but that complaint is being stored in a folder that’s ending up in junk, then eventually both complaint and complainer will be banished from history as if they never even existed. When we are asked to describe the taste of our favorite candy, or a beautiful summer afternoon we had, we also get back to those snippets of joy. But negative experiences tent to stick ten time more at leas.
Hearing a complaint is not the same as hearing a person complaining. It can be difficult or even impossible in some cases to complain, or for one to express themselves. But it can also get as difficult for the person hearing it specially if one does not have a “just ear” or how Sara Ahmed calls it “a feminist ear“ nor the sufficient education that includes all kinds of beings of different ethnicities, sexual orientations and backgrounds thus making it impossible to understand, reflect and coexist. That leads to all sorts of discrimination and exile. “To hear with a feminist ear is to hear who is not heard, how we are not heard. If we are taught to tune out some people, then a feminist ear is an achievement.” _Sara Ahmed. To hear a complaint that has been made many times before throughout history, is also to hear the silence and to understand the reason of void. in other words, “hearing complaints can also be how you learn how complaints are not heard.”_ Sara Ahmed.
Understanding your position and knowing your resources is fundamental in making a complaint. However, in comparison resources like policies and complaint procedures are not hanging on trees and easy to find. in some cases it even seems like you have to plant the tree yourself, take care of it and have precision in order to harvest the goods. In her book “Complaint!” Sara Ahmed wrote, “It can be hard to find the complaints procedure. Or you can be told there is no complaints procedure” Sarah Ahmed .
The way Sara explains it, you can be told that there is no way to submit an official complaint, in order to stop you from finding a way in first place thus making complaint procedures user unfriendly as wall as sabotaging democracy and equality in society. “like an unused path: hard to find, difficult to follow.’’ _ Sara Ahmed .
Even if you bring a policy as evidence to support a complaint, it does not guarantee you will get somewhere, it might even kick you out and view your actions as insubordinate. Therefor it is worth reflecting more on how we earn about institutions from what policies they follow if they are following their own policies, to ground a base to start from.