Today I wake up feeling inspired about my path for this summer cycle. My semester ends May 14 and I’m ready to stop putting all of my energy into my brain and begin to give to my body and my spirit. I found out that I can fulfill my GAIN requirement (32 hours per week of “gain approved activity” and staying home with your child over summer break is not one of the options) by volunteering! That means that I can get paid child-care to do volunteer work. Now when in my life am I going to be in a position to do that if not now? Even if I did get a mind numbing job slinging lattes for assholes, I would be making not much more than I get in public aid and my “welfare clock” would still be ticking. Besides, working in the non-profit sector would allow me to network and learn from the people who know how to run non-profits! Imagine if I could write a grant proposal to get the funds to buy some property and build a straw-bale, sustainable and healing in a holistic way type of assisted living facility for people who have low-socioeconomic status! I might even be able to use the experience to credit one of my independent studies that I have to do next semester. I’m thinking of volunteering at the LGTBQ center in WeHo and the Hollywood chapter of NOW. Hmmm. I wonder if service learning weekends at the perma-culture ranch in Santa Barbara would count. I’ve already made my “volunteer resume.” The other thing that I want to do is be in my body. In the middle of the school semester, I really lose that and I let myself live in my brain while my body eats donughts. Well, now that I have terrible allergic reactions to bread, I won’t be eating donughts, or pizza, or cheeseburgers. I want to eat delicious foods that look beautiful and nurture my body while giving me pleasure. I see myself sipping the milk out of a coconut while eating raviolis made out of thinly sliced radish and filled with macadamia butter. I want to switch my coping mechanism of smoking Parliments to breathing. Yes, just breathing. Yoga, walking on the beach, hiking, kravmaga, swimming, and biking are going to take up hours of my day. I’m going to talk to my body, be in my body, celebrate my body, give love to my body, and get the exercise I need to feel healthy and balanced. Not to mention have the opportunity to connect to nature on a daily basis. One of the wonderful things about California is that one gets the opportunity to turn their back on the city and experience the nurturing land and ocean just by doing a 180.
Which brings me to nurturing my spirit. My spiritual practice has been pretty much null lately, except I do still bless myself in the shower and pray to the parking Goddess every day. This summer, I want to care for a little herb garden on my front porch, I want to play my guitar in the sun and learn all of the songs that make me feel really light when I sing them. I want to buy a “writing hat”(maybe one like old country blues musicians wear?) and go to unusual places where I can drink coffee and type all of my memories and stories and character makeups into my little, black computer, or read all of my favorite authors. In fact, I want to spend just as much time writing and reading for pleasure as I do being in my body. But I never want to write at home, I always want to go somewhere and write. Anyplace would do, a coffee shop, a dive bar, under a tree, in front of a museum. It will be an adventure. Even further I want to ritualize everything. Especially the mundane. How do I make doing laundry magickal? Could I fold extra love and protection into my kid’s clothes? On the full moons I want to hike in the mountains; on the new moons I want to create astral temples and vision boards. I want to pretend that I’m on vacation all of the time, and go see all of the things in L.A. that tourists see and I take for granted. I have never taken my picture in front of Grommes Chinese with those cement hand and foot prints of old time Hollywood stars. I think it’s time.
In the past few decades, feminism has spread across many of the Universities around the country. Many colleges now have a Women’s Studies department, and one can find classes on feminist theory, history and methods. Even academic research has changed due to feminism. Feminism has affected every aspect of our academic lives, including the language we use, as well as how we gain social knowledge. Today, a new wave of feminism is building, and it is off of the campus and in the internet in the form of blogging. This expansion of feminist knowledge out of academia is crucial to the movement in this day and age where information technology is booming. Blogs not only serve feminist research practice by providing immense qualitative data from many marginalized walks of life, but also changes the language of feminism from that of academia to a language that is accessible to many other people who are not scholars or go to college.
Furthermore, blogging eradicates most discrimination when it comes to free speech as most people from any economic background can have access to this free form of publishing. And there are no stipulations about race, sex, class, sexuality and other aspects that can bar someone from writing a blog. Absolutely anyone who can read and write and has access to a local library’s internet is able to have a blog. As a forum for debate, a blog can be more critical than a campus debate because there are no speech codes enforced on the argument. Speech codes are campus guidelines for acceptable speech on campus. The reason that these codes can represent a threat to free speech is the simple question of who gets to decide what indeed acceptable speech is. In the blogging forum there are no codes, rules or guidelines that one must adhere to in order to speak. Even if one is extremely offensive, they cannot be silenced in this particular forum. This no holds bar freedom of speech within the blogosphere is what makes blogging so powerful. One can go on the internet and read almost every point of view, from the ultimate religious conservative to the anarchist prostitute.
Before, social scientists placed primary importance on quantitative research, that is, research that is numerical at its base, can cover a large number of people, and be generalized to a certain group. This type of research comes from a sociological scientific ideology called positivism, where information that is considered social fact must be collected from a purely objective, non-biased, value free researcher. However, women have found that fitting knowledge about women into this paradigm only served to subjugate us further. We know now that the view of positivism in the academic, social science arena is not unbiased at all, but comes from the perspective of the dominant group in society who created and presided over the field for so long. Namely, those with sex, race, heterosexual, ability, and class privilege. In Feminist Research Practice, Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber and Patricia Lina Leavy insist that, “…feminist disciplinary goals…aim to avoid hierarchies and unearned privileging of quantitative methodologies” (276). Quantitative research alone does not serve to illuminate the experiences of the marginalized, invisible and oppressed groups. Secondary to quantitative research is what is called qualitative research. This is research that is not about numerical data but focuses more on the experience of the individual in a certain group through involved interviews with that person. Feminists were worried that quantitative research leaves out the whole story and has the ability to misrepresent women and girls in the research findings. We know that research conducted on women and girls can profoundly affect their lives, and the feminist goal in research is not to do research “on women and girls but for them.”(250). To put women, girls, and other marginalized groups in the center, a new way of gaining knowledge is critical. Feminism helped launch the acceptance of a different type of research, one that does not value numbers or generalizations but instead places critical importance on the thoughts, feelings, language and daily experiences that an individual goes through in their life. This is called feminist standpoint research, and is very important to feminist epistemology, or how we gain knowledge about women and other oppressed groups. According to Feminist Research Practice, “Feminists, in contrast, give priority to actors’ own subjective experience and emphasize the emotional aspects of social life grounded in concrete, daily experiences. For them, data must be qualitative in order to reveal these aspects.”(268). Because all forms of sharing experience are valid in this methodology; poetry, art, journaling, music and much more are now all accepted forms of knowledge. Blogging is no exception.
We may be familiar with the old, childhood rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” As a feminist, I hold this to be false. Language is very important in shaping social ideology, which in turn shapes social policy, and even our face to face encounters with our associates, friends and family. Rosalie Maggio writes in her essay, Bias-Free Language: Some Guidelines, that, “Language goes hand in hand with social change – both shaping and reflecting it. Sexual harassment was not a term anyone used 20 years ago; today we have laws against it. How could we have the law without the language?” (471). In this quote, Maggio illuminates the importance of bringing the language of feminism to the average person and how this language has had a profound effect on our laws and our lives. To this day, the word feminist is subject to misunderstanding, due to the media backlash against it that started in the 1980’s. Today, that can be repaired if the word feminist is normalized and has widespread recognition. If feminism is really for everybody, as I firmly believe that it is, it needs to be presented in a language that everyone can understand. Because of the wide reach of the internet into the homes and minds of so many, blogging can be the antidote to the feminist backlash that we still suffer from, as well as bring the language of gender equality into the everyday lives of many people.
Another reason to take feminism to the blogosphere is to separate feminist writing from political rhetoric, a form of writing that George Orwell, author of 1984, believes is designed to, “…even think your thoughts for you…” (210). Political writing in the form of propaganda is given very little respect in some corners of the literary community and has been described by Orwell in Politics and the English Language, as, “the enemy of truth and the cause of linguistic degeneration…that endanger free thought and truth…”(204). Even though feminist blogging could indeed be political, feminist writers seek to deviate as far away as possible from stereotyping, biased language, and exclusionary language. The type of language that Orwell describes as, “ugly and inaccurate…[and] makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” (205). If people are swayed to embrace equality and compassion from a blog, it is not because of a savvy political writer’s ability to wield euphemisms, glittering generalities, and gobbleydegook. These are all forms of propaganda that purposely ignites our emotions in order to control our thoughts and come with many logical fallacies. This is not the language of feminism. From a feminist perspective, empowerment has come from refusing to be silent, sharing knowledge with other women, and naming those things that oppresses us as well as uplifts us. Never does it come from manipulating the thoughts and feelings of others.
The argument against blogging is the same as the reason why it’s so powerful. That anyone and everyone can blog and that there are no rules and regulations to control it. Opponents of feminist blogging believe that the information cannot be trustworthy because it does not come from academic sources. I believe that this view is biased towards scholars and de-values people who may not be college graduates. I do not believe that anyone should be disregarded because of their academic status, or lack of it, just like I do not believe that people should be de-valued for their economic status, race or gender.
Some feminists still oppose blogging, believing that women should be out on the streets creating social change, instead of wasting their time writing about whatever they deem interesting at the moment. But even those who oppose blogging have their own blog. One woman, who goes by “Mother Jones,” writes on her blog that, “Today's feminists need to blog less and work more. If women want reproductive choice to remain more than rhetoric, they'd better stop assuming these clinics will be there when they need them… OK. Tell me exactly what today's feminists are doing for the struggle.”
In response to her post, another woman blogger who calls herself Holly, writes, “I am often asked what I am doing for feminism and what I tell them is that I blog. I share my feminist ideals on my blog and encourage educated and informed conversations on a wide range of topics that matter to me, to humans, and to my feminist activism. Many people don’t think that blogging is enough, but if you read the bulk of feminist, womanist, and humanist blogs out there, most of the topics that are brought up for discussion come directly from living life and being a humanist out in the big, sometimes cruel, always controversial world.”
This exchange of ideas between feminists is very important if we are to unify ourselves to create social change. There are numerous debates within the feminist community that take place in various feminist blogs. It is critical that this dialog happen if the movement is to evolve and become successful in diversifying and including all women from all walks of life. Because of the ability to get the point of view of so many different types of women, the feminist movement itself is better at being inclusionary to all of us through blogging. Those voices that have been previously invisible in a movement that was predominantly white and of upper middle class can now be heard. Women of color, lesbians, girls, sex workers, house wives, immigrant mothers, single mothers, transgendered women, disabled women, welfare recipients, and too many others all now have a better chance at getting their stories heard and their troubles addressed. In this day and age, diversifying, not homogenizing our numbers in the feminist movement is key to accomplishing the social change that we so adamantly want in our lives and in the world in general.
Consciousness raising has been a tool of the feminist activist since the first wave. Historically, it is how the feminist movement began. Many times this was done by getting a group of women physically into a room together so that they could talk to each other and share their individual experiences which serve to illuminate the oppressive forces in society. The blogosphere is a virtual room where consciousness raising is taking place on an international level, 24 hours a day. Feminism has needed a vehicle to take it out of the universities and into the everyday lives of people in order to be successful. Because of technology, blogging is that vehicle. Not only is it bringing the language of gender equality and humanism in general to the masses, but it is also changing the way we gain knowledge about women and girls. Most importantly, the stories, feelings, thoughts and experiences of women and girls from all walks of life and all over the world are accessible to the masses. The voices of the marginalized no longer have to be invisible, and we have the ability now, with blogging, to see the many different perspectives that are presented, not just what mainstream media decides to feed us. For the feminist movement, blogging can be the way to expand, diversify, dialogue and gain insight in order to create social change that benefits women, girls, and other oppressed groups. Feminism has escaped the bars of academia, and we can now share our language with the masses, thanks to the medium of blogging.
Works Cited "Blogging - the future of the LGBT movement? " Between the Lines [Livonia] 11 Dec. 2008,8. GenderWatch (GW). ProQuest. California State University, Northridge. 19 Mar. 2009 http://www.proquest.com/ Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy, and Patricia Lina Leavy. Feminist Research Practice A Primer. Minneapolis: Sage Publications, Inc, 2006. Holly. "Blogging is activism." Weblog post. Menstrual Poetry. 14 Mar. 2009. 4 Apr. 2009 . Johnson, Robert "KC", and Ralph E. Luker. "Who's Undermining Freedom of Speech on Campus Now." Exploring language. By David Beito. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 520-22 Liz Newbury. . "NOW Brings Feminist Voices to the Web, Engages Women Online. " National NOW Times 1 Oct. 2008: 6,11. GenderWatch (GW). ProQuest. California State University, Northridge. 19 Mar. 2009 http://www.proquest.com/ Maggio, Rosalie. "Bias Free Language: Some Guidlines." Exploring language. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 470-79. Mary Cartledgehayes. . "Isn't It Time You Created a Blog? " Today's Woman 1 Nov. 2008: 48- 51. GenderWatch (GW). ProQuest. California State University, Northridge. 19 Mar. 2009
Orwell, George. "Plitics and the English Language." Exploring language. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 204-14.
I remember typing when I got home last night but I just re-read what I wrote. I think I like writing shit faced!
I dreamed last night that I was back at the bar and I had to pee really bad. I went into the bathroom stall but for some reason i chose to pee on the floor instead of in the toilet. As a river flowed from my stall into the others, all the women in the bathroom got very angry at me for peeing on the floor and I had to run out of the bathroom with my jeans still around my ankles. I then found a corner of the bar and peed there instead. My parents came into the bar and I told them that they had to drive me home because I was too drunk. They refused! I told them they were useless.
In the July issue of HUSTLER magazine, you will find an article by yours truly in the "college report" column. My first national publication and the first publication that I have actually been paid for. I just received a check in the mail signed by Larry flynt! It's pretty cool.
I'm in the dark and smoke is all around me. There is something so sinister, that is so close to me. I am afraid. I know in my heart the right vibration to defend mysel from this menace. it is a sound. I make the sound. "VVVVFWOAAAAAA" I make this vibration with sound and it forms a forcefield around me. I am safe.
"Mom! Why are you making that strange noise?" It's my daughter and I wake up and realize that I have been talking in my sleep.\
"I just had a weird dream, baby. I was just talking in my sleep." I reassure her but she insists on changing from the outside of the bed to the side that is against the wall. It feels safer for her.
"soooomaaaaaa" I say again in my sleep, as the dream did not leave me even though it was interrupted. My daughter tells me that she will go sleep with her grandma if I don't stop making scary noises. I laugh really hard because I actually realize how ridiculous I sound. She laughs too. The next day she laughs about it. She really thinks I'm a weirdo.
Oh fuck I've got a headache as i'm a bit drunk. I went to the Garter which is a bar on Lincoln and it's supposed to be lesbian night on wedensdays. Well, it took me a while to actually get up the courage to go and when i do, well with my luck, it's the one Wednesday that isn't lesbian night but it's death metal night! Holy shit the music sucked but I began to talk to a very beautiful woman named Caroline. Turns out, of course, that she is at what she thought was a lesbian bar just to make her stripper boyfriend jealous. She likes women but can only get off on cock. Turns out that she's one of those rare women that can actually have vaginal orgasms. Amazing. But i still invited her out to the Bistro next monday night so maybe she'll show up. The truth is, I feel very undesirable right now. Something is going on with me, some kind of big lifestyle transition but i don't know what it is yet. I stopped smoking pot which has made me a very high strung person. With weed, I am content laying in bed and watching Lost on Wednesday nights but without it I'm filled with angst. I can't be still. My brain keeps on grinding and grinding. The short but very nice bartender, Mario, makes the best margaritas I've ever had and is giving me free drinks and totally turned on by me. I tell him I'm fluid but not to tell anyone because lesbians don't really like us bi women. After 4 margaritas I feel someone touching my stomach and I turn around and say to this hesher guy, "what the fuck?!" but it's actually Mario and I laugh and tell the guy that I almost punched him in the face because I thought he touched me. he looks scared. Mario tells me no more drinks because he thinks I'll get violent. He's probably right. Jenna texts me if I'm at the "hetero sexually challenged bar" and then laughs at herself. She would have totally come with me if her boyfriend wasn't at my house teaching my mom how to play the saxaphone, which by the way, tortures my poor dog who I have to lock in my bedroom to stop his mournful howling. I then text my old sugar daddy if he really loves his wife and that he should have been mine. He texts me back that there was a time he would have been, but that time has passed. I really don't know how I'm supposed to live this life but I do know that when I cuddle with my daughter who is asleep in my bed I will be the most happy and the most complete.
I want to write about what it feels like to participate in life. I want to participate in life too. I want to feel the wind and ocean spray on my feet for 5 seconds and then write 5 pages about it. 5 whole pages about the sensation, how much detail and color I would have to find. How much I would have to be present in the moment. To open up and reach out to the Universe. I feel like it's why I'm here. Earlier today it seemed like too much, but now I think that I am ready to go out and feel. Feel and write, and read and then live and then feel and write some more. At this moment, the thought thrills and does not fright. What about tomorrow? I can see myself on the beach tomorrow, playing ball with my girl, gold and red hair whipping her cheeks. Drinking the sun, enraptured by the wet sand in between my toes. Not even thinking about the clown claws that seem to grab at me from every crack in the sidewalk, every antiquated storm drain. Stupid Steven King. It's much too easy to slip and fall right into that abyss. But I'm still standing. They haven't been able to touch me. I slide my fingers up my arm and take a deep breath. No, not even a scratch . Just another glamor. An illusion that is much like standing still.
I don't think I have anything that people could take away from me. Only the Divine could take what matters to me the most and I won't be afraid of what's imminent. So why do I spend the majority of my time feeling fear? Fear of what? Pain? Ha! Pain is life's constant companion. Loss? I have already said that I won't be afraid of what's imminent, and loss is imminent as a human being. We are born and we accumulate things, skills, relationships, beliefs, loves and then we die. Every single one of us will let it all go before we pass through Her gateway. Which, by the way, is that dark, scary abyss that we all stand on the edge of, whether or not we choose to see it or believe in it. Some things don't care if we believe in them or not. They exist anyway. I do not want to be afraid of loss.
April 5, 2009 ...Failure, um, kinda, but I don't really know how to rate success. Success. Success. It felt so good but so new and uncomfortable. Yes, even scary. I freaked out because suddenly I felt like I had something that someone could take away. So I let it go instead. Fuck it. Fuck fuck fuck it. It's much easier to let go than to have it ripped out of my hands. Not that anyone was trying to rip. I just couldn't conceive of really feeling it, and then losing it. Oh, because I believe that loss is imminent, I see how that could bite me in the ass. Am I afraid of wanting more, materially, out of my life? Or do I simply think I don't deserve it. When I see the Universe open up for other people, I think, "they don't deserve it." And whatever we say about others is what we think of ourselves.
What do I fear the most? I fear that I'll blink, it'll be over, and I'll realize that I didn't fulfill what I came here to do. Not the Divine me but the human me. Divine me is fine and enlightened and beyond pain. It's human me that does all of the work, and human me that desires and fears and screams and hurts and fucks up.
I'm afraid that no one will know the insignificance that they so hastily overlook is where the truth really lies. And the truth can only be in every speck of dust and if even one speck or fiber or scale of dead skin is left out, well, then it's not omnipotence, which I believe is the point of all of this. I feel that my contribution to this divine self actualization is the most precious gift that I give. And I am a collaborator with the rest of the Universe in the design of this gift. Even though, "all things must pass," I have some say as to what things will pass through me. I always have. I want to begin to choose differently.
Now I'm living in Portland, Oregon, from Roslyn, WA, after leaving Los Angeles, CA in 2010. Searching inside and out for a new paradigm is my major goal in life right now. The patriarchal, racist and classist world that we live in gives me complete and utter indigestion (literally); so I continue on my spiral journey, keeping my eyes open for other worlds and drawing inspiration from those who are also searching.
("Sloth Womyn," is a reference from, "The Womyn's Holy Book of Mysteries," by Z.E. Budapest.)