Meta: In which the internet is sharp on both sides
August 15, 2010 § 3 Comments
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Zeilinger, founder and editor of The F-Bomb. We talked of the teenage girls; we drank of the caffeinated beverages. It was bliss, basically.
I was reminded again of how important human interaction is to my feminism. Because this business can be lonely! Thinking about sexual violence, for example, while immensely important and rewarding, is actually not the most relaxing activity. In a culture where acts of rape, assault, and harassment are still not taken seriously, talking about them can be isolating — especially on the internet. In our dark rooms with our hunched shoulders and our bright little boxes, we are plugged in but we are also deeply disconnected.
So here is where I explain the title of this post: The internet is a sword. Since I am feeling poetic, it is probably laden with rubies and polished within an inch of its life. And like most swords, it has two edges. One side? Is amazing. It lets me read the words of ridiculously smart people who I’ve never met, who live so far away. And it lets me write words back! And people read them! And validate my ramblings!
But the other side is darker. It leaves me tired and sad, alone with my bright box and no one to hug. The sense of power that allows me to write about a deeply upsetting experience is the same sense of power that allows a commenter to joke about raping me. It’s the same sense of power that creates nauseating “blogwars.” Full or partial anonymity can be delicious, but it can also be a poison.
I love me some Internet Feminism. But I don’t want my whole life to be online, and I don’t want to feel as though every waking moment must be devoted to Very Important Lady-Thinking. Because — this is a secret, but I am willing to share it with you — it is okay, really, to not think about feminism all the time.
Internet Feminism is a mighty sword, but it’s not the only weapon we’ve got. Sometimes coffee and conversation can be just as powerful.