Saturday, January 1, 2011

My (Not Quite) One Year Anniversary

I've been blogging at this second incarnation of Five Dollar Radio for almost a year now. Although I run an ostensibly feminist blog, I'm been a participant in the feminist blogosphere for about as long. Notice I didn't say regular participant. Yeah, I keep telling myself I'm going to do something about that, but just as I ready myself to become more active in what I think is an excellent resource for women like me, landlocked in a politically (and socially) conservative state away from like-minded folks, the shit(storm) hits the fan, pitting women against each other.

(I'm being intentionally cryptic as to not to do any further harm, but a couple bloggers whom I respect showed their, well, human sides recently. I don't blame anyone for lashing out when feelings are hurt, but the fall-out is ugly to watch, even from the sidelines.)

I don't want this to look like a slam against the feminist blogosphere as a whole, because I've learned a lot from being even a part-time commenter, but it's not only the inevitable shitstorms, but the insular nature of the feminist blogs. I say this with some trepidation, as I feel it's almost anathema to criticize from the inside out. It's like we can't get away from the things that plague women's circles online and off, and I know we're better than this. And I know I'm not alone. I left this comment on Tiny Cat Pants earlier this week. It nicely sums up my reticence:
I'm 37 and often feel "aged out" of the feminist blogosphere. I also feel "classed" out and "educationed" out. I'd love to see online feminism step outside its white, twenty-something, middle-class, college-educated contingent because a lot us in conservative parts of the country, or with limited resources, depend on the feminist blogosphere. The insularity and cliquishness keeps me on the periphery. I guess that's to be expected anywhere -- online and off -- but online feminism has such a "with us or against us" attitude at times there's little room for nuanced discussion. And that's pretty sad.

But the thing that bugs me is that I can’t tell if I think that because of privilege–if part of being a white, somewhat educated woman is that, in exchange for a lot of bullshit I’ve had to put up with, I’ve come to expect we all kind of turn away from each other’s unpleasant parts.

Another blogger I respect brought this up recently: the privilege to just walk away and not engage. I think there's a flip side to this: the privilege to think, nay, know, you have the right to be part of the conversation in the first place. To be honest, I think it's okay to turn away. Maybe it's self-protection on my part, but I'd rather stay on the periphery and keep some sense of balance than feel I have to pick a side.
The second point I made is one I see rarely mentioned: the privilege to think your voice matters. I don't have an academic background in feminism. I've done a lot of reading on my own, but I always feel I'm a couple steps behind and that's it's painfully obvious. It's like that dream where you have to take a test for a class you've been neglecting all semester: you can fake it to an extent, but you know you're doomed to fail. (This is a leitmotif for my life in a general sense.)

I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I am going to take what I've learned and apply it the best way I know how to my own site, since that's all I can do. Maybe I'll find my niche somewhere between feminist blogging and pop culture blogging, and maybe this blog will continue as the amorphous blob it is.

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