Recently, in an online women writers’ group I frequent, someone asked if others had experienced friends and family members becoming upset at things we had written and published, even when it made no mention of them, or anything directly affecting them. This sounded all-too-familiar, so I wrote this response:
TRUTH IS … Before we couldn’t speak. Now we have the internet.
We can bypass the traditional gatekeepers. We can reach readers on our own terms.
I bought my domain over 4 years ago, but started blogging only this past year. I was very afraid of trolls, and of being censured for being too self-revealing. All the stuff writers have always faced. Plus the added danger of anonymous online critics.
I started by formulating ideas for opinion pieces on my personal facebook feed. You know, like what we used to call ‘having a conversation’? (I don’t have a huge social media list, I keep it small and intimate.)
I got a lot of negative reaction from a couple of people close to me. It was like I’d revealed a side of me they found distasteful. An opinionated side. A knowledgeable side. One actually ‘suspended’ the friendship and we haven’t spoken since.
Look, I write better than I speak. And I have realised that these people don’t want to hear me speak. They like me when I cook and host a lunch (which I do rather well). They like me when I sing and am entertaining. They like me when i ‘act like a lady’. But my real, actual voice? Not so much.
This has been a hard lesson to learn.
If I want to ‘be myself’ I have to accept that I will be disliked by a lot of people I really want to like me.
If I want to ‘be myself’ and express opinions, the people who have always disrespected me and my intelligence will cut me off.
Yoga has been good.
My dear teacher introduced the mantra ‘Be Who You Are’.
And this has helped.
So have my online women writer friends.
Speaking is a feminist issue. Still.
Our voice is either too masculine or too shrill
– which is really just another way of saying ‘Not Male’.
And therefore not ‘the norm’.
Because ‘the norm’ is invariably male. Making female ‘the other’.
Still, I will speak. And write. Using my own real voice.
It’s amazing to think that this should still attract criticism and censure in 2018.
But it does.
You know what I think?
My online correspondent wrote, ‘Thank you. Reading this is a balm for my soul.’
May it be so for some readers here also.