One of the reasons personal posts have become few and far between is because my children are now of the age where they actually read this blog. I have become more circumspect about sharing anything that might embarrass them or give away something a child should never know about her mother. As you can imagine, this has put a pretty effective muzzle on my usual, virtual big-mouthedness.
But it’s not just the kids. For some reason, I have become increasingly fearful of the kind of response I might receive. I hesitate for longer before hitting the publish button. I succumb way too easily to the feeling that I have nothing new to say, that my comments are stupid and frivolous and who cares, anyway? I pause and worry about what little controversy I might be inadvertently sparking.
But self-censorship is very draining. No. More than draining. If you spend enough time repressing everything you want to say, soon you will forget to say anything at all. So these last couple of years I have been trying to negotiate this weird balance between my desire (do I want to go so far as to say need?) to share, to use this virtual space to work out some thoughts, with the respect of my children’s privacy. Not very well though- I have managed to say nothing at all.
2014 could be dubbed The Year of Outed Misogyny. It is the year of Gamergate, Jian Gomeshi, Bill Cosby, Ray Rice. Of hacked nude lady celebrity photos and Dalhousie dentist assholes. And those are just a few examples of explicit violence against women.
It is the year where my sheltered, tolerant, feminist, liberal bubble has been stabbed so many times, I can’t keep up with the repairs. It is increasingly clear that the internet is not a safe space for women. That the glass ceiling has been upgraded to bullet-proof glass and that women are still the ones buffing it up and making it shine. That even in our most liberal, forward-thinking institutions women still have to fight to be treated as equals, still must deal with at best a condescending attitude at worst sexual harassment.
Yeah. Screw self-censorship. I am angry and ashamed. Ashamed because for so long I persisted in believing that I had the same sort of opportunities as men, without recognizing that the whole nuance of how we bring up girls in our society are teaching them to be the polar opposite of what they need to be to succeed. This is a hard concept to put into words, but it is clear with books like Sandberg’s Lean in, that women are still trying to fit into a man’s world, that the dialogue of success and equality are still framed within a centuries-old male-centric frame.
I am angry because I don’t want to fit into this world. I don’t want my daughters to have to fit in to such a narrow, one-size-fits-all life. I am angry that women have to work twice as hard, that we have to walk this Machiavellian tight rope between male egos (according to Sandberg) to get ahead. I am angry that we have to feel bad and responsible and ashamed for crimes done to us. I am angry that we are still trying to play a game whose odds are so extremely not in our favour. The game is rigged, girls. There is no winning.
I saw this parody of All about the bass on Huffington post today and it pissed me off. I don’t want to be a bitch and I don’t want to be employed by a bitch. I don’t want to have to make the choice between a career that I love and enduring a hostile work environment (I don’t have to do this now – but I am thinking of those brave women in the tech industry who too often have to make this choice).
I want to change the fucking conversation. I want to start to question the infrastructure of these power centres in our world -and how, even in their very design, they rule out much of the population from participating. Where the way we run our government, our businesses, our education system, our whole entire lives are built on old models that are no longer relevant. This whole 9-5 thing (not to mention all those high-powered jobs where you work 50+ hours a week) requires either a person to have someone at home to keep things running or nothing at all to have run. Why can’t we start looking at ways we can design a new world that would be more inclusive? Less harmful to our environment? Why can’t we change the conversation?
Above all, I want to stop self-censoring myself. I want to stop worrying how my comments will be received and who will disagree and why. I am writing this to have a conversation. A critical and polite one, hopefully ( and no, I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive).
I realize that I am exhibiting a great deal of naiveté with the above comments. I realize that I am no expert in feminist thought, or societal design (is that even a thing?) or even in pop culture. The only thing I know is that I am tired of the same old conversation, the same old pat answers. I want a different dialogue, one where we go into what-ifs, where we take our protein pills, put our helmets on and dare to envision how a truly equal, inclusive self-sustaining society looks like.
As for my daughters, well, I hope they will participate in the conversation. The only alternative is to suck it up and live with it.