With Sylvia’s latest and greatest post (where the most significant quote of 2008 has already surfaced: “Most of these people are wondering, ‘What the f*** is a blogosphere?’”) I have been thinking about accessibility and its relation to “real life” feminist activism.
Let’s face the truth of our lives. As you read this, we both are veiled with anonymity while we both live our supposed feminist ideals in the real world. In the real world, there are dinners that have nothing to do with the internet, friends who think online dating is weird let alone building communities and activism, and families go about their merry way with no clue that their daughter is a feminist blogger. As you read this, I am breathing somewhere else and choosing what milk to buy. As I do that, you have likely moved on from my site, gotten up from your chair and made 42 decisions off line.
The activism online is not about a wish that the online world will transform the offline world. The point of my online feminist presence is that my conscience, my awareness is heightened by other’s writings, informed by their experiences and power so when I am out buying milk, I think about the rights of migrant workers as my hands smooth over fresh produce and cartons of milk. The point is that you think twice when you meet a Filipina and assume a ten point bullet of what it means for her to be Asian and Asian American and how the two are different. The hopes of my online feminism is that the readers are affected, empowered, stimulated and in turn, that stimulation provides some sort of change in the real world – in the classroom, in the bedroom, in our relationships, at the kitchen table, at social gatherings, town hall meetings, in our thoughts.
So how accessible is feminism?
My question comes back to how accessible am I?
How accessible are my words, my ideas and plans, my language? How important is accessibility? Most important, I have found.
I think back to my own journey as a young woman, how scared and uncertain my opinions were about the world. Knowledge of the world rings different than experiencing the world and I often wonder how much more enriching my journey would have been had I known more questioning, seeking, struggling womyn of color along the way. My confidence would have longevity, I assume, my doubts a bit more curbed, perhaps.
Accessible feminism is not just about reading ability on our blogs, or how much common ground we can find together. It reaches beyond waived conference fees and essay scholarships.
If only it were that simple. Something tells me it has to do with questioning womyn who boast a title as a “professional feminist.” WHAT is that? Please, enlighten me on that one.
Being accessible requires adamant loyalty to staying on the ground: inspiration without the lofty, academic jargon; self-analysis lens without self-centeredness.
I believe that accessibility is about putting in the time now in our work so it remains relevant, streamlined, and foundational for future generations. Gloria, Lorde, hooks, Maracle, M.L. de Jesus, Zia invested themselves into accessibility by centering the timeless issues of their time that would eventually be the timeless issues of our time: racism, poverty, violence, and homo/transphobia.
Their accessibility is reflected in their prophetic writing, making certain that we understand that the mountains we climb are the same mountains they faced. Their words become our food. Their lives became our bridges. These womyn marked inclusive, radical, unafraid and rocky terrain as their land. No journeys were easy. Nowhere in their works did I ever read it was going to get better or hear loose promises of peace in my lifetime. I only read the necessity to give voice to what was happening and the instruction to put to rest all that contributed to womyn’s silence.
Without accessibility, there is no translation between blogs and “real world” action. Greater accessibility must remain a consistent priority for feminists. There is always a womyn out there searching, needing, and being pushed into a corner. Always. And maybe someday she’ll come looking for an everyday womyn who struggles with womynhood, with her identity, and her choices. Maybe she’s looking for someone who’s unafraid to admit she’s very much afraid, without agenda and uncertain as hell. Maybe that’s one thing that I can do because she likely won’t find herself on the shelves of Barnes and Noble or ever get to a class where she will likely be misunderstood. Maybe I can help by just putting my voice out there and saying
You are not alone. Not by a long shot.
It is not so much her responsibility to find me, but more my responsibility to prepare a space so she can be heard, and live, and breathe. I do this in hopes she will unfold and do it for someone else.
That is my feminism. That is my accessibility.