On power

Musical Power Notes, Feb 2013

In preparation for the “Queer Power, Queer Vulnerability” talk I gave at the IVYQ conference last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about power…

I think about it in many forms and am actually kind of obsessed.

I think about resistance, social change, revolution and “people power.” The ways and means from which individuals and groups step into, leverage, develop, and demonstrate power.

I think about the raised fist image, the power which is a threat or a show of solidarity. Power as a way of saying something else: I am here. I am surviving. I am unmovable.

I think about power as freedom; an access route on the road of choice. About how the ability to choose is a kind of power, and so therefore how consent is powerful. Choosing based on our desire; the ability to desire in the first place.

Power-as-choice is also complicated. Many of our choices are situational, that is to say they are from a set of limited options. Not all choosing is power, though sellers and marketing would like us to think otherwise. Picking a white or a black piece of technology is not exerting power. It’s just exerting choice.

I think about how it’s complicated; how unacknowledged power can manifest as obliviousness, harmful uses of privilege, oppression, and interpersonal violence.

I am working on making the speech I gave into a piece of writing; hold tight. Until then: power is complicated, and that’s a really good thing.