Hello, dear readers! Today I'm experimenting with a new PNP format by starting a discussion thread on a specific topic. I can't wait to hear your responses to the questions I've posed below!
Cathy Mazak makes a provocative claim about accountability in her new book, Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing. She argues that
the idea that you need ‘accountability’ to write is rooted in the patriarchy. The idea says that you are not to be trusted to complete work on your own. You are not to be trusted to set your own goals or meet your own deadlines. You are not to be trusted to prioritize yourself or your writing (p. 91).
She then goes on to discuss how community is necessary —especially for marginalized folks in the academy, but asserts that instead of seeking someone who can hold you accountable,
your work will be to trust yourself, hold your boundaries, and surround yourself with people inside of academia who also want to put writing at the center (93).
I’ve never heard accountability described as patriarchal, and I’m curious what you think about this assertion. I’m not quite sold, and I’d love to hear what you think.
I don't think it's *necessary* to have an accountability partner,, but I do think having a friend or community to co-work with can definitely be helpful.
I don't think it's patriarchal at all. A female friend and I are each other's accountability buddy. I just offered to be one for another female friend just starting on her freelance biz. How is accountability patriarchal? You can call it community, you can call it support. A rose by any other name ... Any gender can partake. It's not like a guy must be the leader of it. That'd be patriarchal.
Thank you for bringing this book (and perspective) to my attention. I think Mazak is making a very important point here about specific meanings of the word "accountability" and the power relations that are called up by that framing.
It has become common to call any kind of supportive relationship between peers to support writing "accountability", but is that really what all of these models are doing? Sometimes yes. But sometimes those support systems are actually something else, which is what she points out in that second bit you quoted.
Well, I think writing in academia is about community. You are always interacting with other peoples ideas, and putting also your own. It is a balance, and having to work with others requires certain protocols, such as deadlines or APA rules or whatever. The point is, doing a work within a scientific community. I really don't think your aim in academia is going completely “solo”. Not sure also if abiding to requirements is always being under patriarchy's pressure. But sometimes, of course it can be like that.
'Accountability' is another--therapeutised--ideology of our age. it goes along with the myth of self-perfection and the rest. Liberate yourself from it!
When I reflect on my early years of writing, I did not have an accountability partner, but a peer with whom I shared informally my writing goals for the week. We were encouraging each other. Little did I know that my friends and I were creating accountability circles. We thought we were encouraging each other. Today, I reflect on that experience and realize the value of friendly gesture.
I would not call it "necessary", but I think it helps sometimes. Yesterday, I noticed that I forgot to write, and then I posted it on twitter (apologizing to whom?!) and this will remind me to do my writing today (so far not done, but it is only 11.30...).