One of the best things about being a feminist in 2013 is the internet. It means that even the most isolated feminist can have her life path affirmed in the time it takes to Google ‘what wouldn’t Carrie Bradshaw do?’. I am lucky enough to have fairly strong network in the real world, but I am especially lucky to have also discovered some genuinely delightful pockets of community online, for example, the wonderful women who put together Feministe, and contribute to the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival, and any of the blogs I have linked to over the past 20 months, have been nothing but welcoming and supportive of my shameless self-promotion of the extremely bush league efforts found here.
The downsides of feminism in 2013 are also largely related to the internet. Anyone with a keyboard and a connection can start a blog (yoohoo!) and promote it and attract some pageviews, which means there is an overwhelming amount of feminist material out there, a lot of it expressing varying amounts of outrage over various facets of everyday life or pop culture or legitimately horrifying things happening at home or abroad. If the sheer weight of so much information doesn’t get to you, negative commenters likely will, be they intentionally malicious trolls or ignoramuses or people who have an extremely well-reasoned opinion that just happens to be the complete opposite of yours.
The fact is, I’m exhausted with the double-edged sword that is feminism these days. Or rather, having an opinion online. Don’t get me wrong, I love debate, but the fun of losing constantly is wearing off — either I’m too uptight and can’t take a joke or I don’t go far enough. I love that I’ve introduced many of my IRL friends to feminist concepts, but I hate that an almost equal number of them (mostly dudes) mockingly ‘discuss’ feminism with me every time I see them — and nothing else, either not realising or caring that I can be both a feminist and a gamer, or a feminist and a drinking enthusiast, or a feminist and a human being. While I like seeing Tony Abbott’s ridiculous comments about women seized on by the media and denounced as unacceptable, I don’t like that it seems to happen every single day (to hear so many sexist ‘gaffes’ from the man who will likely be elected Prime Minister this weekend actually makes me feel ill). And I simply can’t with any article about female survivors of sexual violence, just knowing that someone out there won’t be able to pass up the opportunity to blame the victim.
The thing is… I’m beginning to think I can’t deal with the gendered bullshit I am made aware of every time I see a screen. I don’t want to listen to ‘Blurred Lines’ and have the first thing I think be ‘OHMYGODRAPE’, and yet, I’ve been analysing the lyrics in my head for weeks. I want to watch a film and not be concerned that the one female character in it has no function other than sex appeal. I want to listen to people speak and not hear the dehumanising language applied to women and minorities. I want to take the blue pill.
I want to take the blue pill. But I won’t, because I know the choice to switch off my conscience and revel in my privilege is frankly offensive to those whom the world won’t allow to do the same. A lot of women, and men, and people who don’t identify as either, went through a lot to make sure I can vote, to make sure I get an education, to give me freedom over my own sexual and reproductive choices. If they can do it, I can certainly make the effort to write a post every two weeks. Who knows, maybe it will be my addition to the wealth of feminist resources on the world wide web (ugh, no one calls it that anymore) that changes a mind and makes a girl’s life easier (it probably won’t be though).
How do the rest of you deal with the constant barrage of information and negativity?
Up next: I am away for a little while, back 17 September with, I think, a break from whinging and perhaps a straightforward analysis.