I wanted to try an experiment this week, the week that I started a new job.
I wanted to try and disengage from the online world of feminism and refocus that energy into the human interactive relationships I would soon be facing in my new work. After being an active blogger for about three years, it was difficult to do at first. I resisted the urge to obsessively check my blog’s email, comment moderation, and my favorite feminist bloggers as I normally do throughout the day. The rules were strick: 2-3 internet slots a day, no more than 20 minutes each. When you consider correspondance, reading, news, Facebook, listserves, and random recipe searches on Google, 1 hr/day is not a whole lot if you’re an active blogger.
Slowly, though, things got easier as the pace of my job increased.
I work with the MRDD (Mentally Retarded and Developmentally Disabled) population and supervise a staff that works with homes to teach, encourage, and support folks who are trying to live more independent lives. Needless to say, it’s hard work. It’s draining work.
Today, as I watched a table of four clients eat their lunches, I thought about how little I have been online and how removed I felt from “Feminism,” capital F. The news might be breaking something huge and I’m not reading it, or whatever the latest and greatest (or worst, depending on how you see it) IT thing is being talked/written about, I’m not around to read or react to it.
I believe in feminism. I believe in the flaws and all the rights of it. I believe its purpose is multifaceted, but one of the primary faucets of its existence is to be used as a lens for liberation work, a method to view oppressive relationship and overpowering structures that abuse and ignore womyn’s voices.
If I believe that, then how is it that I started to measure how current I felt with “Feminism” because I haven’t blogged in a week? While I am standing in a house filled with women of every size, mobility, and age who are trying to lead independent lives, make their own decisions, and improve their own quality of life — WHY AM I THINKING ABOUT ONLINE FEMINISM?
The truth is that we’re all prone to comforting ourselves and patterning our behaviors to what feels good, complementary, and familiar. The feminist blogosphere, for all of its energies and wondrous capacities, has not yet fused or connected to the “real” world.
The “real” world is a relative phrase, but for me, this week, it was observing and training womyn on how to measure laundry detergent, how to tuck the sheets into their beds, and counting pills for medication.
The “real” feminist in me saw the staff I work with, all women, who are juggling two sometimes three jobs and internships to put themselves through school and make ends meet for their families.
I am drowning in “real” feminist work and have open opportunities to forge relationships with new womyn in my life who only know me as their supervisor.
And yet, I stood in the kitchen wondering what I might have missed in the online world.
ONLINE FEMINISM IS BASED ON ACTUAL LIVED EXPERIENCES
Why look for the second version when the original is staring you in the face?
So, how had I learned that writers and opinionated activists who have their own corners of the internet to speak were more relevant than what this other womyn with oatmeal all over her smiling face had to tell me about her mother?
A lesson for today for all bloggers and readers of feminism:
the moment you begin preferring screens and books to human contact/relationship building and stories, however slight that preference, remind yourself that it’s time for a break.