Communication

Secretly, or not so secretly, I don’t like blogging at all.

I have very little faith in my ability to communicate with words. All women have been systematically told that we are terrible at everything, and women’s writing has been suppressed for centuries through lack of access to literacy as well as direct subterfuge (keeping her busy with chores and children and un/paid labor, telling her she’s no good at writing, claiming she’s crazy for writing or wanting to write, pretending she didn’t write what she actually did, etc) — and while I consider myself a pretty hardcore feminist, sometimes it still gets to me.

Men always undermine women’s writing. That’s a given, almost like background noise. I’m used to that. But I still take it hard when other women do it. Even women who are not feminist, or who are fauxfeminist.

A female commenter at Zuska’s blog once told me I was “incoherent” when I was trying to talk (in complete, grammatically correct, well-punctuated sentences) about what I like to call “class camouflage” (dressing in nice, albeit secondhand and therefore inexpensive, clothing to pass as someone of a higher social class and thus avoid some of the petty discrimination that goes along with truly being of a step-above-homeless social class).
Commenters elsewhere have ripped into me for being too poor, too rich (because I don’t work, therefore I must have a secret trust fund somewhere?), too uneducated (which therefore means ‘unable to understand anything and also inarticulate’, of course), too PTSD, too young, too delusional (for thinking women can take direct action?), too strident (for saying women might think about eschewing penetrative sex and all forms of sex with men), too lax (for still talking to men sometimes), too lesbian (thus unable to understand ‘het’ women), too straight (because I am not gold star and am celibate and unpartnered), etc.

Sometimes criticism is warranted, of course — I’m still learning, as we all are. But I take even the unwarranted criticisms to heart and play them over and over as my internal monologue whenever I try to express myself. I think, “Joy … there’s no smoke without fire …” and then I despair so hard I want to cry. Which makes me feel all the more “crazy”, emotionally unbalanced, and therefore unworthy of writing.

That, and I primarily communicate in what is apparently abstract language. Like most abused children (read: most female children, and I also had an extra helping of abuse on top of that), I’ve spent most of my life inside my own mind, and the richest parts of it have therefore been internal. I’ve had a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts and I take for granted the way I communicate with myself. What I mean with language is not what most people mean with language, and by the time I stop to explain that fact, I’ve run out of time to write about anything else.

To be honest, I hate blogging and have a small panic attack every time I log in to see that someone has commented. That’s a stupid response, but I just know that I will be unable to respond or communicate properly and it gives me the cold sweats as well as a sense of grief. I’m a writer — communicating with words is what I do. I just can’t seem to write about feminism, which is one of the most important things to me.

I’m hoping I grow out of it.

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About @trees

Thrillseeking female. Indie music shaman. Will almost certainly Like your cat pix.
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12 Responses to Communication

  1. nuclearnight says:

    We have a lot in common. I don’t think thats why I understand what you’re talking about though. People (ie sexists) use the term “incoherent” as a way of dismissing a woman completely. One of the oldest misogynistic tricks in the book. What I think they mean, but are too cowardly to say because we’re all trained to be so liberal in our speech patterns and never ever say anything that might be DIRECT to one another, is that they disagree. SHOCK HORROR!

    I generally don’t engage with most commenters, for a lot of reasons. Mainly lack of energy and lack of concern with whether or not they agree or disagree.

    I block like a bat outta hell though, over 550 on youtube.

  2. Witchwind says:

    If people have criticised you in person rather than your message, it’s simply they didn’t want the message to be heard and so tried to shut you up with ad hominem attacks (as in insulting a person so her self-esteem is so degraded she won’t ever dare talk again). This is the most classical way of stopping oppressed people to talk about their experiences for instance.

    People have no right to say “you’re too this, not enough that, too incoherent”, etc. Just send them to hell, they’re stupid, rude, and it’s unacceptable. It’s completely different from saying “er, sorry, I don’t think I understood what you said, would you mind explaining please?”.
    And even if some of your behaviour might be related to PTSD, so what? In what way would that be your fault? Are they doing anything to help and support you? Are they indulgent and understanding? Most people who were or are abused have PTSD, and that’s a hell of a lot of people. It’s probably the most uncured and misunderstood symptom in the world, because nobody wants to face the fact that so many men (and sometimes womyn) rape and abuse other people (mostly womyn)
    Good luck with everything, keep up the blogging!

  3. KatieS says:

    This is a great post! It touched me because I am trying to begin to write again after having a difficult time about a year ago. I couldn’t figure out why I’d stopped writing except for some posting on blogs and some journaling. I like your blog a lot. Thank you.

  4. Mary Sunshine says:

    Joy,

    I know every word of those feelings; have shared those same experiences and consequences.

    I *love* reading all these radfem blogs, for such standout women such as yourself. You all give me so much. Quality of life, eh? šŸ™‚

    P.S. Thanks for the Dorothy Parker link!

  5. fabflowers says:

    THIS!!! sorry for yelling, but i feel the same. hence why i’m not blogging yet, but you are not alone here, Joy. thanks so much for sharing something i and others understand at heart. i can relate to many of your issues and i empathize deeply with you on some things – i’m just so sorry and righteously angry that you are so young and have suffered this much. i have PTSD also and i really get the pain and disturbance this injury brings to your life.

    i know what the “fear” feels like that you speak of. i still get afraid of discussion in rad fem blogs when i read nasty responses from women and men who just won’t get it and seem to hate us and i’m so sorry if my reply here today scares you… i hope the support brings a smile to your face anyway.

    nice to meet you. šŸ™‚

  6. Sargasso Sea says:

    Late to the *party*, but I was just recently called “incoherent” by some ding-dong on a *Women’s Rights* (hahahaha!) forum at a giant mainstream Democratic site which I shall not name…

    I don’t know what’s so incomprehensible about, “The best way to avoid unwanted pregnancy is to stay away from people with penises.” šŸ˜›

    If it’s worth anything, I understand you just fine.

  7. Rididill says:

    This is so familiar it makes me happy and sad at the same time – happy because it is refreshing to see that others go through what I do, and sad for the same reason I guess because it’s a pile of crap. It’s a very fine line to tread between learning to trust yourself and your own points of view, and becoming closed off to disagreement – one I still haven’t figured out yet. But rest assured this is not something ‘wrong’ with you. I think it’s a natural response to always having been told you are crazy or wrong for having different views or complete denial of your experience, your reality – I’ve had a similar experience. It just instils you with this incredible self-doubt that raises the stakes of every disagreement, every criticism – because each one might, if it is true, be an indictment on everything that has brought you out of the darkest places. And if you don’t have that, then what do you have? It’s very hard to trust your own ideas, your own views, when there is always that niggling little voice in your head from as long as you can remember, which says ‘maybe it is just me. Maybe I AM just crazy like they said.’ Don’t believe it! But yes, it makes it hard to write about the things you care about the most.

    Something I read which was really helpful – http://www.feminist-reprise.org/docs/kaplow.htm

    It might be a bit basic to you, I read it when I was first coming to radical feminism and it really helped with these issues for me.

  8. FeistyAmazon says:

    I avoided the holidays this year by not writing a single card to anyone except cards and gifts only for my partner, and my two closest friends who are in my daily life. As one raised Jewish and into Goddess Worship/Pagan, I tried as hard as I could to pretend the xmas holiday insanity wasn’t happening….and at least I got to do my womon only Dianic Winter Solstice ritual which fed my DykeAmazon Female soul, countering all that xtian xmas stuff forced upon me every year…I do like the lights though, they’re pretty.

    As far as the other stuff, I’m a lifelong Dyke, who came out at age 20, 31 years ago, and never was into all that feminine stuff in the first place, shaving, makeup or feminine clothes. Heterosexuality was completely unnatural to me, and I’m so glad I’ve been and am a lifelong Butch Dyke, though that’s a whole other set of oppressions. So many women do have PTSD, including my partner, so you are not alone, and only by empowering ourselves and stopping violence against us can that change for future generations, and meeting likeminded allies and being heard. I’ve taught many a self defense class to womyn only for their empowerment. I have a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and have studied other arts as well. Thanks for speaking your truth. I may not agree with all of it, but I really do appreciate your self searching and connection with Lesbians, womyn and working towards your own and our full and total empowerment!
    -in Sisterhood,
    -Artemis

  9. roaringinside says:

    I understand those feelings perfectly as well, from having experienced them. However, as I would always say, I wouldn’t spend any energy at all trying to communicate with men. It’s like talking with the walls, no use. Men are completely demented and there’s no solution for the vast majority of them at all, besides, sure they get some perverse stimuli from having us spend our energy and time in them, so it’s also completely unrevolutionary in the sense that it’s the same old vampirism being perpetuated again and again. However this phenomenon doesn’t only happen with men, there are the handmaidens of the patriarchy and it’s also no use communicating with them because they just think the rewards for handmaidesplaining are more worth it than their own dignity and freedom. So the solution to that is try to communicate with women who are somewhat open to feminist consciousness, and not lose time in men or handmaidens who are both patriarchal agents. That’s what I’ve been doing for a while and I feel more wise in that I keep my energy/time and only invest it where it’s worth investing.

  10. FeistyAmazon says:

    Preserving your energy is so important, Roaring….this is one reason I’m Separatist or Separatist oriented. I won’t allow men to plug into me, or my energy, though with women it’s harder. I have felt it too from straight women, they want Lesbian attention and support, but to give nothing in return. Not true for all, but definitely true for those that ‘gotta stand by their man’ and are the handmaidens as you say to patriarchy. Sadly, some Lesbian/Queer women are too….so it’s better to choose where to put our investments of energy, time and soul, than to watch them drained away by those who cannot or will not give back and have a more empowering reciprocal relationship/friendship!
    -FeistyAmazon

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