Thursday, December 15, 2011

On Blogging Priorities

When a person has a blog, it invariably happens that a reader or a critic or another blogger will inform the blogger that ze isn't writing about the right, or most important, stuff in hir little nook of Internet.

Like, if one is a feminist writing about sexism in the media or people making offensive rape jokes, it often happens that people, anti/non-feminists usually, will bark at us to write about the Plight of Women in the Middle East. (Relatedly, I've noticed that one of the implicit anti/non-feminist PR campaigns is: "Look ladies, at least we don't stone you! Now stop your whinin' or... well, let's just say you could have things worse.")

Anyway, this demand to write about More Important Things reminds me of that scene in Beetlejuice when Betelgeuse is in the afterlife reception room thingy waiting to see the caseworker Juno. He sees that the guy next to him is holding ticket #2, while he himself is holding, like, ticket #3,002,121. Distracting the guy, Betelgeuse is all, "Hey, look! There goes the King!" The guy turns his head perhaps expecting to see Elvis, and Betelgeuse swipes the guy's ticket and sits back like, "Welp, looks like I'm next."

Things don't turn out so well for Betelgeuse in the end, but basically, people who visit another person's blog to demand that the blogger write about something other than what ze's writing about are acting a little bit like Betelgeuse. Not only because of the entitlement about New Person thinking ze gets to set the priorities in someone else's writing space, but because they pull this "Hey, don't think about this, think about that" switcharoo that implies that what the blogger chooses to write about is inconsequential.

My point, though, is that there is no shortage of important stuff about which to write. And, like most people, feminism, gender politics, race, body image, religion, and LGBT rights are not the only topics I care or think about. Ultimately, though, on this blog which I receive no compensation for, I have to make choices about what to write.

I'm not sure it's possible to objectively measure something like which causes are Most Important, but one reason I choose to write about feminism and gender issues is because sex/gender is one of the most basic ways humans divide and categorize themselves. Before we are even born, people want to know if the parents know whether "it's a boy or a girl." After that information is revealed, gender scripts play out accordingly.

Race and body type, being an often-visible marker of who or what a person supposedly is based on those characteristics, are other categorizations humans use to perpetuate hierarchy and privilege. These categorizations, like others, then imply hierarchy in other aspects of life.

And so, as inconsequential as some may find feminist Internet writing to be, I'm of the opinion that the little things do matter, including sexist TV shows and sexist romantic comedies and sexist advertisements and sexist quotes by random sexist people on Internet. Many (most?) people who are in some way(s) marginalized experience microaggressions, those frequent, commonplace messages that reinforce a group's inferiority, vulnerability, and/or lack of individuality that build up over time and become part of our larger realities.

As Melissa McEwan writes:

"... in a very real way, ignoring 'the little things' in favor of 'the big stuff' makes the big stuff that much harder to eradicate, because it is the pervasive, ubiquitous, inescapable little things that create the foundation of a sexist culture on which the big stuff is dependent for its survival. It's the little things, the constant drumbeat of inequality and objectification, that inure us to increasingly horrible acts and attitudes toward women."

The little things are the building blocks of our cultural narratives about gender, race, sexual orientation, body image, and rape culture. These narratives, I believe, help inform who we are and who we perceive others to be. These narratives become "common sense" and "self-evident truths" upon which the Big Things subsist.

Yet, I also choose my writing topics based on (a) having Issue Fatigue about other serious topics (Earthquakes in Japan! Occupying Wall Street! Yes, I care! But, like many people, I can't think about tragedies and bad things 24/7 and still maintain my grip on mental well-being), (b) possessing familiarity with the topics (does Internet really need more people pecking away about shit they don't understand?), (c) having passion for these particular issues, and (d) having the time to write about everything I'd like to write about.

I think, too, there is an important distinction between those who don't write about certain topics because they view them as trivial and those who don't write about those topics much, if at all, yet who are allies to those who do. There are single-issue blogs run by those with privilege or relative privilege who are hostile to the notion that they might be privileged in certain ways or acting problematically toward other groups, and I strive to not be that.

Anytime a blogger is dismissing and trivializing another's legitimate social justice concerns as just "finding reasons to get mad," ze is not being a good ally. And, I try to keep that in mind as I navigate both writing here and reading other blogs.

In addition to sharing my perspectives as a feminist lesbian, I'm aware that my voice as a thin, white, well-educated, able-bodied, cis woman is going to be imbued with certain privileges. I'm going to overlook things and show that privilege and, while I don't think it's anyone's responsibility to do so, I hope I have demonstrated that I would be receptive to such critiques whether in the comment threads or via email.

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