Theories and Practices
Edited By Diana Trebing and Ahmet Atay
chapter 6 Being a Spoilsport: The Feminist Killjoy as Critical Mentor
Meggie Mapes and Alexandria Chase
Feminist pedagogues are often tasked with empowering, mentoring, and inspiring students in meaningful and political ways (Brown et al., 2014). As feminist academics, we too believe in the synergy created from practiced mentorship through a lens of critical pedagogy, exploring what and how knowledge is created and privileged through co-constituted relationships. Unfortunately, mentors are often cast into pre-determined categories, whereby women are, for example, foreseen as caregivers (Valle, 2002), embedded in the happy fantasy of femininity (Ahmed, 2010). However, as mentors, we embody dual roles as women and feminists, carrying the baggage of the unhappy spoilsport, or what Sara Ahmed (2008, 2010) coins the feminist killjoy. Put simply, our feminism ruins the fun by operating outside the presumed economy of femininity and cultural expectations of a good, happy academic.
In this chapter, we expand on Ahmed’s (2008, 2010) arguments to consider the feminist killjoy as enacting critical mentorship, a process of “spoil[ing] the happiness of others” (2010, p. 65) by refusing to assemble or convene around perceived structures of happiness. In other words, we consider the killjoy as a necessary component of critical mentorship by exposing institutional injustice through and with our mentee relationships. Reflecting on our own contextual and shifting ←111 | 112→roles as feminist mentors /mentees, we analyze mundane moments that amplify mentorship as a relational process of critical love that reveal systemic inequities through the killjoy mentality. Like Ahmed (2008), we are “prepared to kill some forms...
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