They say “write what you love.” One random writer’s website posts “two cups of coffee and a cigarette will guide your writing, easy.” as solid and universally applicable advice. I have been told that writer’s block is what happens when you are not writing what you want to write, that you aren’t challenging yourself enough. Your creativity has filled the box that you have built around it and it cannot produce any more results until you get rid of the box. All this advice is valid, but I feel like it stems from bits and pieces of a larger story. Little excerpts from a larger novel you might consider reading one day, but never really get around to doing because the narrative doesn’t seem real or tangible. Most ‘wise quotes’ feel that way to me.
Write what you love.
I write mostly non fiction. I write about my experiences, my thoughts, my warped world view. I am a human. I am not rigid, I am not unchanging, I am an open minded person. I try to be accommodating to opposing views because I am not all knowing, but I will always preserve my energy when I feel it being threatened by stupidity. By the way, my drafts are full of articles just like this one. Articles that start off with an apology. The introduction is filled with excuses and long winded statements that seem to plead a case for the article before it is even accused of anything, before it even gets a chance to do anything. When I realise that it is taking this form, I quickly discard it in shame before it even gets a chance to make yet another apology.Write what you love? I do not love making apologies for simply existing.
Yet that is what I have made a habit of doing. Not raising my hand in class even when I know the answer. When I do raise my hand, the answer is preceded with another apology. “Sorry sir, but…” “I’m not sure but…” To speak is to risk a louder, less restricted voice watering down my point in language that even 15 year old me would never use, and get that lauded as the most original thought of the day. I have been made to question and re-examine every argument I have gotten into and been forced to dismiss logic as emotional overreactions. This is not something that started yesterday. It has been repetitive and slow, drops of water wearing a hole in my brain.
Ever since I became a feminist, I have ignored this blog on purpose. It has become an archive of old ideas that I shudder to re-examine. To reread this blog is to be reminded of who I am trying to erase. I can’t even scroll past three without feeling a bit of shame. A lot of the things I wrote in the past were misogynistic and sought male approval, fat shaming, slut shaming, everything shaming. I don’t know whether I even believed half the things I used to write. I haven’t been able to reconcile myself with the things I used to say or do. But that person isn’t here anymore anyway, I can’t debate on her behalf.
Rigathi wrote a piece on “The Mess In Your Home” where he points out the reluctance we show when faced with problems that are so close to our person. The ease at which we let our close friends and family get away with things and quickly run off to the internet to flash our social justice warrior badges at strangers. I have tried to put this into practice and the results have been insanely disappointing. For those who actually know me there are tens of scenarios where I can also be called out. “Oh you wanna say I shouldn’t do _____ but remember the time you were faced with the same situation and you did __________ who the hell do you think you are?” Well not in those words exactly but there are those undertones. There is a mess at home simply because your own mess will be reexamined and juxtaposed to theirs as if it makes it any better. The house remains dirty either way.
“Don’t start with your feminism here.”
There is also the bruising of friendships. I’ve started thinking about how “partner in crime” is used to define friendships. In the movies the one who snitches is the pariah, the bad guy, and more often than not dies in terrible circumstances that the audience will cheer at. “He got what he deserved.” This is not an accidental analogy. You dare say something to one of your friends, that their behaviour is trash, that they’re being sexist/misogynistic/homophobic/classist and you automatically become the bad guy. You can’t call them out in public because “its never that serious, you’re spoiling the fun.”. But then again the only reason that society is stuck in this ridiculous patriarchal system is because of the refusal to actively break it down. To take some things more seriously than others, even when they are.
I am in a love hate relationship with my feminism. I can’t stand always being the novelty. I hate it when I say something and then everyone gets that stupid look on their face like children who were found plotting about stealing sugar. I hate the air quotations whenever they question my beliefs.
I HATE THEM SO MUCH FUCK YOU I IDENTIFY AS FEMINIST WHY ARE YOU PUTTING THE WORD IN QUOTES ITS NOT LIKE I PUT AIR QUOTES WHENEVER I SEE YOUR “WALLET” I hate it when I begin questioning myself. I hate the fact that it is seen as some sort of slur. I can punch a bitch if I hear “I’m not a feminist, but” as if its something you should apologize for. (“I thought feminists can’t say bitch?” BITCH BELIEVE IT. BITCH SO NOW?) I can’t stand Patriarchal Patties who pander to the male gaze when it comes to feminist discourses, or any discourse for that matter. I’m constantly wearing a scowl on my face because of the stupidity that surrounds me. But I’m happy with it. I’m so in love with the fact that I see so many women talking about experiences that I thought were restricted to me. Its so relieving to not be the only one any more. Feminism gave me a safe space to be who I was and to let other women be. And its exposed me to so many good things and experiences. I no longer have to pretend to be enthralled by dull white male writers like Grisham, Sheldon and Ludlum any more whose writing is so generic and stoic, nor impressed by dull men who have read them and think they are scholarly. I no longer have to tolerate boring men!!! This is probably the best thing about it. There are so many men who have had a place in my life who were useless, unintelligent, unfunny, BORING pieces of trash who only took up space because they had penises and deep voices. (As a woman who watches football and loves to drink beer and talk shit, you have no idea how many of these I have been exposed to.) Feminism has not made me unafraid but it has made me unapologetic for who I am, and I am such a bad ass. Before I was so uncomfortable in my own skin, simply because I wasn’t a “lady”(worst word in the English language btw). I don’t know how many times I prayed that I was born a boy instead so that I could just be allowed freedom to do things I wanted.
“Have feminists done/read/watched ____?”
I can’t speak up on every instance of misogyny and neither can anyone else, you’ll probably go ape shit insane. Being a feminist you’re expected to run up and stop every sexist in their tracks with a whistle and a fully written lecture with citations. Everything you say can will and has been held up against you. Its not a job, okay. Its just praxis. Are you going to pay me? But in itself that’s sort of a compliment. That you hold our opinions in such high regard that you wait with bated breath to hear what we have to say. Fuck you man think your own goddamn thoughts and stop waiting on others to think/say things for you so that you can immediately disagree.
(The funny thing about feminism is that the materials that got me started, were sent to me by a man who was trying to discredit the entire movement. “Look at these crazy women.” I still look back and laugh at that. LOL. Thanks dude.)