It was while I was still in college that I really became “progressive.” It wasn’t the classes I took, though toward the end of my college career I finally took a few that challenged normative views. But I only took those classes toward the end and prior to that my classes really didn’t challenge any of my views, which were pretty in line with what society dictates (though my views at that point were still a little outside of that narrow box; they were’t very much so and they weren’t very informed either).
A friend initially gave me a link to Tiger Beatdown. At that point in time Tiger Beatdown was a Sady-only production. The posts I initially read were her take-downs of Judd Apatow movies, and she wrote some beautiful posts, hilarious and eye-opening.
It was that simple, small action; that friend linking me to Sady that changed everything for me. I devoured everything on Tiger Beatdown and then I wanted, craved, needed more. At that point in time Tiger Beatdown still had a blog roll in the sidebar. I checked them all. I know that Womanist-Musings was there, which I now read regularly.
I’m not sure if I also got to these other sites through Tiger Beatdown but one way or another I found Feministe, Feministing, Racialicious, What Tami Said, Sociological Images, Hoyden About Town, Shapely Prose, Shakesville, Dances with Fat and more. Most of those I still read regularly. Many more have been added to the list and some I read less than every day now.
My world expanded, shifted, grew. I started learning about feminism, really learning about it. I learned about racism, really learned about it. I learned about fat activism and healthy at every size, which were things I hadn’t even known existed prior, so entrenched had I been in the cultural narrative that tells us fat equals unhealthy.
I needed to read, think about, and discuss all of it. I spent hours of every day (and still usually do) just reading these blogs. I also started looking for more of the literature outside of blogs that had influenced the people whose works I was now reading. The Feminine Mystique. Judith Butler. Bell Hooks.
During the past two years my world view has changed so much and so drastically thanks to these blogs, thanks to Sady Doyle and the fact that she wrote funny, quippy posts that made real feminism easy for me to understand, easy for me to jump into.
In these years of learning I really just focused on educating myself, and to a degree those whom I interact with regularly. Things that I never noticed before in media became obvious; gender dynamics, stereotypes, racism. I didn’t comment on blogs in this time; I don’t think I could have added to the intellectual discourse and I knew I didn’t know my 101 enough to wade in. So I just absorbed. I became the proverbial sponge.
The sponge that is me is no longer dry or just barely wet however. I still take in more and more everyday; I still have so much to learn. So so so much to learn. However, I think the time of just reading and absorbing having been enough for me has passed.
My New Year’s Resolution was to find more ways to really be an ally, to really be progressive and to be an activist. Educating myself was the first step but now comes the work. That is why this blog exists. I can no longer simply sit on the sidelines; I must wade into the foray.
My beginning steps shall be small, but everyone must walk before they run. I have started this blog in an endeavor to push myself; to write more about the injustices I see in the world. I’ve begun commenting on the blogs which have meant so very much to me. I comment partially in an attempt to add to the discourse but also to show my support for the very hard and the very real work they do. I’ve also started donating to some of these blogs and also to more non-profits out there challenging society. I’m signing petitions and writing to my congressional representatives. I’m writing letters to businesses.
All of these are small acts I know. As Shakesville would say I’m raising my teaspoon. For now it will remain a teaspoon but I hope it can grow. Soon it will be a regular spoon and maybe even someday a ladle.
So Thank You from the very bottom of my heart to all of you out in the world who have been teaspooning tirelessly for so very long. Thank You to all of you who wrote so that I could learn and grow. Thank You.