Slaves of Academe has reminded us more than once that in academia, as in life, good deeds rarely go unpunished. Sometimes, however, they are rewarded or at least not opposed. This leads to feelings of empowerment, which brings perspective and focus, and fosters further accomplishment. This is why I have always considered empowerment a positive thing. As my old student, the yogi, once said: “I understand now. You believe that even undergraduates should have power.” And I do.
A few days I created an amusing concept, the Bane, based on the English word bane. A Bane in my specific redefinition is a piece of conventional wisdom or truth, based upon a fallacy, infused with the “paralyzing gas of fear” (Galeano), and used as a control mechanism, or, more specifically, as a method for the internalization of oppression. As I can, I will be expanding my list of currently common Banes.
When I say “empowerment,” do I mean asserting power over others? One of my early memories is of labor and civil rights protestors wearing enormous placards which said, I AM A MAN. Soon afterward, at school, girls older than me announced that we were women, and caused meetings of the newly formed Women’s Caucus to be announced in the Daily Bulletin (much to the annoyance of my Spanish teacher, who had to read it to us). When I say the word empowerment, I refer to examples such as these.