Balancing Act

[Cross-posted from my Tumblr, which features a lot of things–like, for example, pictures of puppies and YouTube videos of Tori Amos–other than blog posts. Edited for clarity and bizarre sentence syntax, and expanded a little bit. Please try to follow the comments policy.]

This is probably going to sound scattered and weird and nonsensical in parts (I am supertired and tried to take a nap earlier, which did not happen). I would not be surprised if I lost some readers over this. I may regret posting this later. However: It’s important, and it is worth noting that this post is not meant to address one person or group of people in particular, because there have been, actually, several fairly recent incidents (again, spoiler alert, SEVERAL!) that have inspired this post.

I have a major Thing with being told that I am excluding other people, letting them down, and/or not taking them and their needs into consideration enough, both because I know from experience what it is like to be actively excluded in a painful, gross manner (thank you, mainstream U.S. feminism!) and because I have some Personal Issues with codependency (which used to be a hell of a lot worse). And yes, telling people that that they are being exclusionary/inconsiderate can be very useful at times, so my point is not to say that you should never tell anyone that they are excluding you (I mean, look at what happened with the Evelyn Evelyn thing in part because of my inability to shut up and my general verbosity!). And I know it’s going to sound like I am making it All About Me, which I do not want to do, but there are times when you have to put things on the table to make them clear, or at least intelligible. Or something. I don’t talk about my history of major codependency issues very publicly, mostly because I am concerned that a.) it will sound whiny or like I am trying to excuse the times that I have screwed up (of which there have been MANY, by the way, and since I am not perfect, these times will continue!) or b.) showing more vulnerability than I have in the past will just give trolls more ammo.

I just don’t know how to balance my own need for a “safe space” as a disabled woman on the internet with demands that I cover x issue, that I need to work more on y,  people saying that I am not focusing on the right things, or not working hard enough or jumping high and gleefully enough through some rather arbitrary hoops that have been put up, or that I am excluding people. But sometimes there are comments that I do not let through because they make me feel…just off, or they make my pulse go up a notch (is that a trigger sign?). This is not anyone’s fault, of course. I am inclined to blame myself and say stop it, you are being oversensitive. And feedback is something that I find useful. But I have spent years of my life doing many, many things and taking the shit for other people without also considering myself or taking care of myself, and it did not get me much other than chronic pain (I don’t know for a fact that my pain has been caused by this alone, but I’m pretty sure it was a contributing factor).

Here’s my major point: There is more than one way to be a feminist. There is more than one way to be a PWD. In one area of my life, I am attempting to (though not succeeding?) help make a space for as many people as possible while also doing my best. I know that neither intent nor effort “excuse” in any way what actually comes out or happens. There’s got to be a method that respects the many disabilities and the many feminisms out there without placing an unfair burden on any of the parties involved. I don’t know what that method is. Things will collide. Misunderstandings will occur. I am not adverse to this, but what I am adverse to are insinuations that I am not working hard enough, or that I am letting our community down (please remember, I am just one person!), among other things.

Other major point: You don’t know. There are a lot of things that I do not talk about on my blog, for various reasons (including, ya know, privacy reasons). There are a lot of things that you don’t know. There are a lot of facets of my experience that you cannot or do not see.

I am working. You might not just be able to see it, or I may not choose to give you all of the details.

I am listening. Maybe a little too hard.

I am trying to take other peoples’ needs into consideration and work things out, more than they will ever know.

And it’s fucking trite and cliched to say this, but: I am a person, too.

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5 thoughts on “Balancing Act

  1. Astrid says:

    I agree, and I must say that I see you do a hell of a lot of activist blogging on a lot of issues. No single person can be expected to cover every single oppression issue they care about on their blogs, or whatever means of activism you’re expected to pursue. Besides, people don’t see what we do when not in front of a computer screen.

  2. abbieplouff says:

    So … I’ve been following the Evelyn Evelyn thing pretty closely, and I would like to thank you.

    I am a pretty strong feminist, and am currently writing my senior thesis on nostalgia in contemporary pop culture for freak shows. I wanted to use Evelyn Evelyn as a primary text, and as soon as I was listening to the album, I felt icky.

    I was also a fan of Amanda Palmer before this whole incident. I kept out of the internet controversy before listening to the album for the purpose of formulating my own opinion, but then burst into it full-throttle (though I have not said anything publicly on my own blog).

    And the whole thing has been icky. So I wanted to thank you for being so diligent, patient, well-spoken, and responsive to that particular Internet Thing.

    In actual response to this post:

    Safe Space is really, really important. And I support your comment policy. In general, I think that people need to be thoughtful when commenting, but that is not a trend that I foresee being adopted any time soon.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing! I really enjoy your posts!

    • Annaham says:

      Thank you so much, abbieplouff!

      I did the senior thesis thing myself as an undergrad and know it can be pretty stressful. If you need info/analysis on the freak show in U.S. history, I HIGHLY recommend Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s work. She’s written a couple of books and numerous articles, and many of her articles are fairly accessible via JSTOR or other academic search engines.

      Thanks for your comment, and good luck on what sounds like a fascinating project!

  3. I have always had a problem with readers demanding that bloggers write about their favourite issue – the temptation to say “get your own blog and write about it yourself!” is at times overwhelming – because it’s not their call. You write about what you want to write about – no one blog can be all things to all people.

    I write about social justice issues when I have the energy to deal with the comments, y’know? And that’s not every day. You keep up not only this blog, but the amazing FWD (which I link to on my blog, because I think it’s awesome), and it’s work, this writing thing. And you do it well. Especially on the Amanda Palmer thing – I was deeply impressed by how well you handled it (and loved your post on Tiger Beatdown!), and wish it didn’t have to happen to you.

    The risk with writing “issue” blogs is that they attract the haters – it’s easy to write fluffy stuff, and people don’t tend to lurch into your blog like comment zombies and try to eat your brains to make you shut up, amirite? – and that takes energy to deal with. Every time someone demands you write on a particular issue, they’re also demanding that you take on the responsibility of dealing with the comment fallout. And that’s hard.

    You are always allowed to say No. 🙂

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