I almost never do this, pull narrative from the comment section of this site and present it alongside my own narrative, because that just seems so meta, although maybe I should, because it’s not like I don’t get meta – that whole last post was about as meta as it gets – and anyway so much of the commentary that you all contribute here is just so ridiculously smart, so I really should just get over myself and my conviction that I’m the lone storyteller here and that it’s not a good blog week if I don’t post a picture of my babies and just let you guys do more of the talking. Because, seriously:
In preface, I have to say that I have bronchitis and am still dazed by last night’s Nyquil, but I feel strongly enough about this post — which asks some really great questions and raises urgent issues — that I think there’s some validity to my feeling that part of the “problem” is in labeling things “women’s issues” or “women’s stories.” In reality, these stories are human stories. As you said, family life is central to the human experience, and I believe that these stories that we are calling ours are fundamentally human. Not necessarily male or female. Men certainly don’t call “their” stories “men” stories. They are simply stories. When men speak, they believe they’re speaking for the whole of humanity. Wrong or right. It is something they perhaps take for granted. But maybe they’re on to something. I’ve dealt with this recently as I’m a newbie blogger, and wonder whether i really need to label myself as a mommy blogger, versus simply being a “blogger” or a a unique individual with stories to tell, things to say, thoughts to share. I am troubled by this question. I wonder if I can succeed in blogging without having this “mom” perspective, whether it be a working mom, or stay-at-home mom, or a hybrid of the two (because i am a mom who works at home)…. and often my stories have nothing explicitly about parenting, yet being a parent informs everything that I do and who I fundamentally am. But that also goes to the issue of branding one’s self in order to better reach some sort of audience.
… Another thought — we shouldn’t be asking for authority. If we were men, we would just take that authority as a given. We wouldn’t ask for permission or validation. Writing is writing. Online or off. I doubt too many men who blog feel it’s less valid because it’s online. We further perpetuate this problem by fighting for this validity, this authority. Because then we imply that it needs to be fought for, rather than simply is. It is something that we claim in the same way we “claim” oxygen when we breathe. I don’t mean to oversimplify, but we need to just continue to support one another’s endeavors; to discuss one another’s works, to follow and subscribe to one another’s blogs; to deal with them on their own merits, not as some surprising new trend. I understand that what is happening IS revolutionary and amazing. But at the same time, to treat it as too miraculous marks it as out of the ordinary, when what we really want, in fact, is (I think…) to be ordinary storytellers… not “women” storytellers or “mom” storytellers. The challenge lies in celebrating something that is long overdue without segregating ourselves further. We are women, yet we tell stories for everyone. The best way for us to get what we want is to just continue telling these stories and passing them on to others — male and female, people with kids and without. The best stories have universal appeal. We must begin to think of ourselves as people who tell those kinds of stories.
(The original comment can be read in full here. You really should read all the comments, though. They’re better than the original post.)
I think that this was maybe exactly what I meant when I said that we should be story warriors. I think that maybe I meant exactly this.