What is “Hysteria!” Anyway?
For me, the drive to start blogging comes from the simple fact that I have a lot of things that I need to get off my chest. They’e pretty heavy, and I’m starting not to be able to breathe. I mean, what else are you supposed to do when you see something like this or this? Just lie down and cry? Because that’s where I’d be without writing. And what about this? Jumping for joy over small triumphs is a lot more productive if you can share it with people.
Feminist bloggers often make the point that no one writer can be everything to everyone. There are a lot of wonderful blogs out there covering some of the same topics we’re likely to cover. (Check out our blogroll for our favorites!) But there are, unfortunately, more digs against women out there than any one set of bloggers can possibly cover. Adding our voices to the mix is just another way to keep the coverage heavy – to make sure that important topics don’t go unnoticed or untouched.
And it’s a way to exemplify how creative works can be brought into the service of feminism. I’m a creative writer at heart, and there are times when writing a story or a short piece of poetry gets across my point much better than an essay. We’re planning to be a multi-media sort of blog once we get off the ground, featuring art and literature and whatever else we decide is awesome. So we’ll be posting on the politics and pop culture like Whoa, of course, but we’ll also be throwing up creative writing pieces, artworks, photography, and anything else we can think of that might inspire or excite our readers. We’re trying to cover as much as we can, from as many angles as we can. Watch as our heads explode!
Heads exploding, indeed! That’s a nice visual for the way I feel most days, what with the whole “charging women with murder for miscarrying” thing, or the “bribing Afghan informants with Viagra” thing, or the “stiffer legal penalties for crack than cocaine” thing. Or, for that matter, how I feel when the bros in the classes I teach talk to me like I’m some chick they’re tryin’ to break shit down for at the frat house. Thankfully, because of the nature of my job, I have a built-in formal venue in which to address this kind of stuff, which is great. But let’s be honest: there’s only so much Being a Bitch about soup ads or genital dye-ing one can do in academia before people start to think about you as Not Serious. So I think of blogging as offering an additional space to talk about the kinds of things I wouldn’t get to address in academia, and in a mode of expression that’s not limited to being interesting or accessible only to the sorts of people who get paid to read books.
That’s not to say that what we’re doing here is unimportant–I’m pretty convinced that the opposite is true. Most of what we talk about here is real-life stuff with tangible consequences for all sorts of people. The point is that, while I love my work as a teacher and scholar, there’s a more everyday-life sort of feminist work that I think needs to be done–and, unfortunately, sometimes that sort of work isn’t recognized as legitimate or valuable in my corner of the Academy.
Additionally, I think it’s worth wondering why and how these narrow ideas of what “counts” as sufficiently academic get passed down, like shiny little patriarchal treasures, from one generation of teachers, writers and researchers to the next–so part of what I do here will be to write a little bit about the bit piles of FAIL that crop up as much within the Academy as outside of it. My hope here isn’t so much to perpetuate the sort of navel-gazing that we university-folk are (often rightly) famous for as it is to point out the extent to which racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and ableism (in addition to whatever other crap ‘ism’ you could think of) are still importantly present in an institution that is famously liberal. Because, as much as we sometimes hate to admit it, academics are creatures of our social context, just like everyone else–so I think it’s worth paying attention to the ways that institutions like ours uphold the status quo, even with the best of intentions.
This is another way of doing what QueenGeorge calls “keep[ing] the coverage thick”: paying attention to the crap going on around us, and speaking up in whatever ways we can. For me, that’s mostly going to be in the form of prose writing, but we’ll also do our best to bring you poetry, visual art and literary pieces as well. In every case, our goal is to offer new ways think about why the world is what it is, and whether it might be able look differently. And for some people this all might look a little wacky–hysterical, even–but that’s never stopped us before.