If you're a long time reader of this blog, you might have noticed it's changed quite a lot over the last year or so. I've taken a lot of my more intellectual blogging elsewhere, and saved this space for all the shinies, with the idea that this would make me less self concious about writing things that might upset people. Sadly, it didn't really work. I find myself hardly writing at all anymore.
Instead, I've been crafting for my Etsy. This project has taken up a lot of my time partially because I'm attempting to really get it going, and as anyone who has started a small business can tell you that takes all your time and then some. But it's also partially because I find it so much more relaxing than writing. I make things that I think are pretty, and people either buy them or they don't. It's all very...straightforward. Whereas speaking online has become something I've learned to fear rather than enjoy.
It's not any one thing that's given me this deep seated trepidation about opening my mouth in a public forum.
Part of it's years of watching amazing women, women that are undoubtedly smarter, wittier, and tougher than I am being driven into social media breaks or offline entirely that has made me wary. There are some topics I know will rustle some jimmies, and I can be prepared for that when I step into the conversation. I know that if I bring up feminism in all but the most general way, someone won't like what I have to say and won't hesitate to tell me. That's cool, I can predict and prepare for that. But sometimes I step into a conversation, thinking I know how serious it's going to get, and I am so, so wrong.
For example, a friend has recently been driven offline because she made a downloadable mod for the game Dragon Age that changed the romance options for one of the characters, meaning you could have a gay romance with them. People called her a rapist - a RAPIST - for making a game mod. An OPTIONAL game mod, that you would have to specifically download, or that you're free to entirely ignore. I wouldn't be shocked if some of you thought I was making this up, because it's so absolutely outrageous. Who gets that upset over an optional mod? Who decides to devote hours and hours to abusing someone for making something they thought would be fun?
I see this sort of thing happening all the time, and natually, it makes me afraid. I'm not even surprised anymore when I see prominent women taking a break from social media - I'm honestly more surprised by the ones who manage to get by without having to burn it all down periodically. But it's not just the fear of external hostility that's kept me so quiet lately, it's also the fear of irrelevancy.
When I started this blog, I was one of a small group attempting to blend feminism, intellectual discourse, and pretty things. The more I look around at the blogosphere, the more I see people joining this little group. For some people it's just a little mention of feminism here and there - for others it's addressing questions of intersectionality as they apply to cosmetics advertising. As someone who started writing this way because I wanted to read more of it, I'm thrilled. But I also wonder what more I have to add to the conversation. I wonder if I've said all there is to say about how anything coded as femme is considered less, and how much that bothers me. I wonder if the world really needs my hot take on...well, anything. I wonder if I have anything to add to the ongoing discussion between white and black feminism, and whether I would ever have anything worth adding to such a huge, complex, and important conversation. I wonder if it's worth speaking at all, or if I should just stick to my trinkets.
My weird little corner of the blog world has gotten so much bigger, and it's hard to convince myself that I have anything to say that hasn't already been said by someone wittier, better educated, and more influential than I am. When this concern is already whispering discouragement in my ear, watching yet another woman be driven out of the online space for speaking, for doing, for just being, my fear becomes paralysing. Why would I take the risk of being attacked for wrestling out words that no one else will read anyway?
I know that I'm rusty, and my words are clumsy. I have to kind of choke them out, like when you've got something stuck in your throat. My hands freeze, my mind wanders, and it's just easier to go do something safe, practical, something quantifiable. I can hold my jewellery in my hand, and say to myself, "I did that." I can judge whether it's how I imagined it would be or not. Words are so much harder. Even at the best of times, as a writer you never really know what people have taken away from your words. I fret that my point doesn't even come across, let alone my worries that people might or might not like what I've said. When my fear gets the best of me, and I forget any self confidence I had, writing can feel like I'm spilling nonsense into a giant void, that occasionally spews a wave of monsters - and who in their right mind would want to do that?
As my psych will testify, I'm not in my right mind though. I'll keep choking the words out when I can, spilling them before I can take it back, and hoping someone will see value in them.