[This is Part I of my response to the article “Why Blogs for Women are Bad for Women.”]
Did any of you bloggers out there read this piece on Forbes.com? It’s called “Why Blogs for Women are Bad for Women,” and I’m not going to outline it because the title sums it up and because I’d rather you read it and give me your opinion than twist up the author’s point. The author does a lot of generalizing, which is evident from the title. I mean, objectively speaking, she’s wrong: there’s no way that all blogs for women are bad for women. Speaking critically, she’s unclear: what is a blog for women, anyway? Is this my blog a blog for women? The content of the article, which criticizes writers who complain about issues unique to women, suggests that my blog falls into her definition of “blogs for women.” Rather than criticize her generalizations (I make them, too) or her semantics (unproductive), though, I really do want to respond to what I take to be the author’s main point: that talking about women’s issues on a blog does not further the feminist cause.
There is no question that I started this blog because I wanted to talk about gender and feminism. Just read my first post. I talk about why it’s hard to be a woman. I talk more about why it’s hard to be a woman like me. Sometimes I wonder if there is value in this and then I stop posting for a few days. I always come back, though, because I firmly believe it is important, in my life, if not in yours. Here’s why:
#1: There is power in identifying the things that hurt us: gender and sex discrimination, existing inequality, and the myriad things that make life hard. There is power in putting names on these things and in responding to them out loud. I’ll give you an example that I didn’t think I’d ever blog about because it’s unpleasant, but that proves my point in a way that more generalizations never could.
Years ago, a stranger on the bus grabbed my chest and gave me a wet kiss on the side of the mouth. The advance (or, um, assault) was unwanted and unwarranted. I did not scream or slap or curse. I froze and smiled and beat myself up for the last ten minutes of friendly chatting with the creep, even though I had no way of knowing that he was a creep until that very moment. That night, I hated myself so much that I got drunk and the next day I hated myself for that because that’s something I worked really hard to stop doing (I’ve written before about how I’m a Mormon and how Mormons don’t drink and how there was a time in my life when I did not live by the tenets of my faith). I proceeded to wipe the entire encounter from my memory.
Years later, it flooded back in a river of fury and shame, when I read this post by NTKOG. NTKOG experienced the same thing I did, correctly identified it as something ugly, somewhere between sexual harassment and molestation, and challenged the cultural narrative responsible for the overwhelming response she got, which was “Why’d you let him touch you in the first place?”
If I’d heard somebody give voice to an experience like that before it happened to me, I could have recognized it for what it was and forgiven myself for my role in something I had zero control over, instead of doing something that just made me hate myself more. Even though it came several years too late, realizing that my response was normal relieved my shame. Naming the evil gave me power. Maybe it will give you power, too? Even if you nobody ever touches you without your permission? At the very least, I hope it demonstrates that talking about these things matters, immensely.
Come back tomorrow for the second half of my response.