Notes: Sara Ahmed, “On Being Directed” in Living a Feminist Life

Ahmed, Sara. (2017). On being directed. Living a feminist life. Durham: Duke University Press, 43-64.


Ahmed describes how power and expectation create directions toward conditions of living a certain way and how feminism highlights these lines and provides support for moving differently or toward different lines.

Keywords: feminism, feminist theory, theory, affect, killjoy


“[P]ower works as a mode of directionality, a way of orientating bodies in particular ways, so they are facing a certain way, heading toward a future that is given a face” (p. 43).

“We can use a path insofar as we do use the path. Can is here a consequence of doing. If we can because we do, then we do can rather than can do” (p. 46).

“To sustain a direction is to support a direction” (p. 46).

“Not giving up: feminism can be experienced or narrated as giving life, or as taking one’s own life back, a life that you might have experienced as what you have given to others or even what has been taken by other people’s expectations” (p. 47).

“Queer and feminist worlds are built through the effort to support those who are not supported because of who they are, what they want, and what they do” (p. 48).

“When you are alienated by virtue of how you are affected, you are an affect alien. A feminist killjoy is an affect alien. We are not made happy by the right things” (p. 57).

“We would understand unhappiness not as the failure to be happy and thus causing yet more unhappiness, but a refusal, a claim, a protest, or even just some ordinary thing, a texture of a life being lived” (p. 58).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s