I went to a meeting (won’t say if it was activist or academic or whatever – that’s not the point).
There was explicitly ‘no agenda’.
And we were then, without warning, asked to introduce ourselves (say what we had done, were doing and what we wanted to do around this particular issue/topic). And did they give us a) a couple of minutes to collect our thoughts and b) an upper-time limit.
Nope, instead it was one of the organisers (or rather, people who called the meeting) saying ‘well, I may as well start’. They then spoke for a few minutes, while we were all trying to listen and think about what we would say.
And guess what – the people who spoke the longest (who basically just mentally Ctrl C and Ved their comments) were the highest status ones. And they spoke for a looooong time. The lower status people spoke very little.
And guess what – after we had done those intros, the conversation came to be dominated by those who had spoken longest in the intro.
Who. Would. Of. Thunk. It.
Afterwards I thought about how one of the smartest people present (also perhaps the kindest) had said not a word. This person is perhaps an introvert. They don’t do the whole song and dance thing, so if you don’t create mechanisms (institutions – informal norms and also formal ones) to facilitate their input, you won’t get it. And you will end up with mediocre decisions, arrived at after un-necessary faffage. And so it came to pass.
This: The absence of structure is hierarchy. Just the hierarchy of prior status (mostly class, race, gender, age, confidence, extrovertism).
You can choose not to see that, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true, it doesn’t mean the power isn’t there. FFS.