A renowned feminist thinker argues we need to get in the way of happiness, our own and other people’s, to build a more just world
Do you refuse to laugh at offensive jokes? Have you ever been accused of ruining dinner by pointing out your companion’s sexist comment? Are you often told to stop being so “woke”? If so, you might be a feminist killjoy—and this handbook is for you. In this book, feminist theorist Sara Ahmed shows how killing joy can be a radical world-making project.
Presenting sharp analysis of literature, film, and influential feminist works, and drawing on her own experiences as a queer feminist scholar-activist of color, Ahmed reveals the invaluable lessons of the feminist killjoy, from the importance of asking questions to the power of the eye roll. The Feminist Killjoy Handbook offers an outstretched hand to feminist killjoys everywhere and an essential intellectual guide to the transformative power of getting in the way.
Sara Ahmed is a feminist writer and independent scholar who works at the intersection of feminist, queer, and race studies. Winner of the 2017 Kessler Award from CLAGS, the Center for LGBTQ Studies, Ahmed has published ten books, including the cult classic Living a Feminist Life. She lives in England.
“Odd and exciting to let out a shout as one reads a book of theory, theory written for and about the ordinary outrages that demand a feminist response. This book releases a sound that emerges from the full diaphragm, a life force held in check for too long. Ahmed moves from scene to scene with clarity, rage, and joy, building through each refrain to mark the brutal violence of everyday encounters and to show us what a life-affirming response can be. Ahmed thinks in the middle of rage, never letting go of the possibility of joyful resistance, writing, turning over what she just wrote, showing how ‘obstinacy’ is one form for the desire to survive. And yet, throughout, the humility of this brilliant feminist thinker shines through. This book is a great gift, enormously important for overcoming this vicious trans/feminist divide, showing how anti-racism and the struggle for disability rights is central to feminist and queer thinking and politics.”—Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble
“Sara Ahmed's work has long been the touchstone for feminist scholars like me, so I am delighted that she has brought together her most powerful ideas from nearly a quarter century of publishing to the non-academic reader. The Feminist Killjoy Handbook is exactly what we need: a cogent, powerful, practical guide to understanding our world and changing it for the better with our every interaction, and every day. This is the book I shall be pressing into the hands of every woman I care about for years to come. An absolute must read!”—Sunny Singh, London Metropolitan University
“Sara Ahmed's Feminist Killjoy Handbook is not only a dazzling analysis of the workings of sexism, but a balm for the soul. Ahmed's insight that being a feminist is being a killjoy is as consoling as it is revelatory. It makes sense of the bad atmosphere, the uncomfortable feelings that swirl around feminism; it gives you ballast in the storm. Read it. Give it to everyone.It will teach you how to survive and how to transform the world.”—Hannah Dawson, King’s College, London
“The iconic feminist Killjoy Sara Ahmed rides her horse, stands her ground, speaks her truth in this mighty little book. Her powerful words blaze a trail of tough love honed-in the saddle of real life. Armed with the gift of her wisdom, a new generation of Black and brown Killjoys will have the weapons to outwit the tyranny of white supremacist heteropatriarchy - subverting its machinations to define our minds and bodies with our collective Killjoy voice.”—Heidi Safia Mirza, University College, London