It is hard to believe it, but this is it. My 41st and final post for ShoutOut JMU. We have shared three semesters of avid blogging my dear readers – but let’s take one last journey together. I want to reflect on my blogging experience, talk about the transformative power of the blogosphere (and how you can be a part of it!), and share two upcoming feminist projects that I am really excited about. So, one last time, here we go…
The 41 with wings is a little silly, but it is also representative of the first thing I want to discuss – my time as a blogger for ShoutOut JMU. I first heard about the blog and started reading in the fall of 2010. Back then, the blog was still a baby, with limited writers and readers, but the caliber of work that was being published was impressive. To say the least, I was totally intimidated.
In those days, I guess you could say I was still a baby feminist. I had just started taking women’s studies classes and rethinking the world around me, but one thing was clear – I was seeing the things very differently than before. Feminism for me wasn’t just found in the classroom or in a book, but in every aspect of my life. At work, home, school, and in my relationships, I kept running across things I didn’t understand, things I wanted to discuss. I thought I would have a lot to write about.
And I did. Once I started writing in the Spring of 2011, I never once struggled to find a subject. There was always something I wanted to know more about, something I wanted other’s opinions on, or something that I found disturbing. Why did my friend think it was okay to let a man pay for dinner? Why were boys afraid of periods? Did anyone else ever wonder when women started wearing bras?
I took on all these subjects and more on the blog, and soon found that I was comfortable talking about feminism in front of anyone. My confidence and knowledge grew more while writing for the blog than during any other school or work experience.
Which brings me to my second point – writing for the blog transformed me and the way I think about the Internet, particularly social media. Writing helped me grow from a woman who was afraid to speak in class, to one who can’t shut up. It has helped me to examine many aspects of my life and relationships – and often changed my views drastically. When I started writing about pro-ana women last week, my intention was to say how terrible the whole culture was, but after a closer look, I ended up writing a positive piece. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how wrong you can be – but writing always reveals it.
The blog also helped me realize that Facebook and Twitter are useful for a lot more than stalking your friends photos – when I link my posts, my friends always read them. Like really read them and leave feedback, sometimes good, sometimes negative. I realized that my friends were looking at my wall more often than they did national news sites – giving me the power to be the media. I know I have said that a lot this semester, but I really can’t get over it. The media has sucked this year, but we the people don’t have to accept this. The Internet is ours and we already have our friends attention. We can publish and say whatever we want, and make discourse into whatever we want it to be.
If anyone out there wants to start a blog – go for it! Creating and maintaining a blog is super simple. WordPress is free and as user-friendly as Facebook (seriously). Make sure to link to other blogs and read others work – comment often and share your work via social media. That is really all there is to it and I am happy to share advice or answer questions @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Which brings me to the last thing I want to share with you – my future feminist plans. As you all know, I have been concerned all semester with how to stay an active feminist after graduation. I have been concerned because I have felt like feminism in Harrisonburg is largely regulated to the university – but I have noticed lately that there are a lot of feminist women in our city. Which is why (unless I get an awesome job in a far away location) I am going to be working this summer with my friend and co-feminist, local/almost alumni Rachelle Rucker to create a Harrisonburg Feminist Collective. Our goal is to have consciousness raising sessions with local women representing many age groups and walks of life, to find out what the women of Harrisonburg want and need. We want JMU to be involved too – I will post a Quickhit here when we finalize dates and meeting times.
I will also post a Quickhit with the details of my second project – my very own blog!! – which I am very excited to start writing…just as soon as graduation is behind me.
To my readers – thanks for listening and for challenging me with your thoughtful comments. To my fellow bloggers – damn you guys write good. I have loved reading your posts! Keep writing – I can’t wait to read ShoutOut as an alumni next semester!