This week on “The Conjuncture of...” we’re talking about texts and popular culture that we’ve been consuming - from a feminist book to a comfort food.

Ego Heriyanto This week, I have been reading Sara Ahmed's Living a Feminist Life. Judging from the title, it might look like one of those self-development books hippies can't help themselves but jump right onto it for the sake of... being hip or even worse - 'woke' (I guess). Reflecting on her past work on a wide range of topics including developing feminist consciousness, being feminist in public spaces, and encountering the consequences, Ahmed firmly believes that "Feminism is DIY: a form of self-assembly" (p. 27). Upon carefully taking different feminist thoughts - specifically circulating the issues of happiness, willfulness and feminist subjectivity - into account, Ahmed proposes what she calls 'feminist killjoy'. For this specificity of developing feminist consciousness, I'm just gonna drop Ahmed's exact words on 'feminist killjoy':

"...one who does not make happiness of others her cause. When she is not willing to make their happiness her cause, she causes unhappiness." (Pp. 74-75)

I personally found this concept powerful and profound. It accurately resonates with my experience of being excluded due to not participating in toxic masculinity and all of that 'bro' culture. Participating in racist and sexist culture indeed makes your life easier (in a way), but Ahmed assures through her radical thought that it is okay to cause unhappiness in this sense, it is fine to be 'a problem'. In the conclusion, Ahmed succinctly formulates feminist killjoy toolkit and manifesto that effectively list aspects and steps she recommends to persist as a feminist killjoy. I'm not dropping it here, you have to read it yourself (P.s. it's mindblowing)

Fieni Aprilia Intrigued by the whole Sex and the City for younger generations narration surrounding the series, I decided to give Emily in Paris a shot. And boy did I fall asleep after one episode. The story follows Emily (duh?), a white twenty-something American woman who moves to Paris for work. Knowing the problematic nature of Sex and the City, I was a bit hopeful for Emily to, at least, resolve the issues and make the series more inclusive and socially-aware. However, that wasn’t the case.

The overtly positive (I’d say toxic) Emily strides through her every day life in Paris way too easily. All thanks to her privilege as a young, thin, feminine, white woman. Of course, there was no single moment where I say “lol relatable”. Almost every single thing about this series feels forced and impossible to do unless you hold the same positionality as Emily. This show even gives false instructions on handling cast iron pan; don’t ever wash it? Seriously?

Interestingly, the cis, straight, white dominated show uses Emily’s instagram handle as the title — and that’s exactly how I felt whilst watching the series, like peeking to some famous out-of-touch white influencer’s instagram. Promoting nothing but empty promises of white #girlboss feminism. Also, despite SATC’s problematic aspects, the show still delivers complex characters. Unlike its predecessor, Emily focuses on her brand as @emilyinparis as well as her job that, of course, embraces capitalism. Emily’s whole identity is a brand. Thus, the “girl power” yet capitalistic nature of the show reminds me of “marketplace feminism” mentioned in We Were All Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler, where feminism is depoliticised and most importantly, corporatised. As a result, the practice only highlights the most appealing feature of a multifaceted set of movements, and ignoring the more complex issues (Zeisler, 2016). Eventually reducing the term to a mere buzzword to sell outfits with “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” which ironically was made by underpaid Mauritian women in sweatshops (Hoskins, 2014).

And that’s basically my only takeaway from the show, brb washing my cast iron pan.

Harry Isra What happens when something happens? What makes an event evental? These are some of the questions posed in a podcast “Žižek And So On” that provides a series of discussion as an entry point into the philosophy of Žižek. At first, to quote him, “an event is thus the effect that seems to exceed its causes – and the space of an event is that which opens up by the gap that separates an effect from its causes.” Think about both material and immaterial event: 9/11, Covid-19, and even the birth of religion. Think about the before and the after. An event does not necessarily have an immediate effect. It is the changes that they create, their ability to redefine things and to make something stable unstable that characterises them as an event. An event can be approached by two philosophical methods: transcendentally (what is the meaning of the event, how it appears and relates to us?), and ontologically (how it emerges?). Thus, if we think of an historical event by using the former method, event might appear at first to us as unnecessary and unimportant. Not until we discover the event later on did we find their significance.

Pranavesh Subramanian This week I ate, for the first time in years, a fried okra curry. It was during a visit to my grandmother’s house when I was 7 that I was introduced to the delights of gram-flour batter coated, spiced okra. I loved the okra curry that my mum made, but what distinguished my grandmother’s take on it was that it tapped into what my young palette considered the pinnacle of gastronomy — fried food. She called it bhindi masala (as opposed to my mum’s curry which was simply bhindi); it became our thing. Each passing year, when we visited her over the summer, it didn’t matter if I had replaced my obsession of transport with football; if I had stopped reading books for couple of years because it became uncool to read in high school; if I turned up with increasingly questionable hairstyles and a pathetic attempt at a patchy, pubescent beard. We always had one thing in common — bhindi masala.

My grandmother passed last summer, and I don’t remember the last time I had bhindi masala (back when she still insisted on cooking despite her frail legs, maybe 2015, but I’m probably wrong, my mind is a haze). This week, my mum suggested making bhindi masala for lunch. It was the first time I’d heard that name in years; I thought of my grandmother throughout lunch. Bhindi masala is still our thing.

Texts mentioned









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From the EditorsOur launch event, “What The Fuck is The Conjuncture?” With Lawrence Grossberg, is now live on Spotify, Anchor.fm, and PocketCasts! If you missed our event, tune in to these channels to listen to what the fuck it was all about! (Read more)

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THE BABYSITTER’S CLUB AND THE LIMITS OF AMERICAN LIBERALISM 

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LINES

SUBMISSION by Ethan Harris Woodfin
“[...] Modern structures tend to embody the straight edge a building tool instead of an addition to a structure’s overall aesthetic value. I cannot claim to hold reason behind this trend, however it could be something to do with the increasing pace of lifestyle in urbanised areas,”(Read more)