It has been a while since I posted anything here, but I will try to post more from now on.
There have been a few reasons why I wasn’t as enthusiastic about keeping this blog going. The main one was simply that I was too afraid to write! That may sound silly, but I will give you a little back story.
I am a member of a Yahoo Group called “September2001Babies”. Don’t ask me why, but I joined it when I first found out I was pregnant with Mina and I made some good friends, so I stayed.
The list was predominantly American. When I say “predominantly”, I mean that there were probably 3 members out of 90 that were outside of the United States, with one Canadian, one from Australia (me) and one from Finland (I think it was — one of those Nordic ones anyway).
Most Australians and Canadians, and even a few Americans, look at things differently to the dominant conservative culture that exists in mainstream America. We have a different sense of humour, different politics, well… different everything… from the dominant culture that is White America. Me being the type of person that I am, I questioned the Americans more than I should, and probably challenged them more often than they would have liked me to.
Ah Americans and their weird obsession with politeness and censorship. Most of the time they spent their time arguing about how not to upset each other with subject headers whilst upsetting people by filling up their inboxes with 50 emails about politeness…go figure… but that was just annoying. Until one day, my Canadian friend thought she’d have some fun, and posted pictures of her Halloween carvings of Bush and Osama Bin laden to the list. Well, needless to say, the irony was not noted and it sparked a mass exodus from the list — of all the US “Moms”… away from me and my Canadian friend.
A few decent folks stayed, but the list basically died in that moment at the hands of one or two people who couldn’t take a joke. Of course, this isn’t the full story – there were a few other troublemakers and “discussions” that would usually end in me calling them all “retarded” or something, and with my tendency to stand up to Queen Bees, I had a target on my back, but ultimately I was consistently bullied by these women for my fairly benign Australian opinions for nearly two years before the hyenas left the group.
Basically, it all ended in me concluding that even though they technically speak English and The Simpsons is cool, Americans live in a batshit upside down freaky Sliders episode. I have been too scared to post anything controversial or even honest for fear of losing the few remaining members that stuck around on the babies list. This wasn’t the primary reason, because obviously I am not that much of a pussy, but it was at least one of the many reasons I became too afraid to post anything about what I was thinking or going through as a mother for fear of being harassed again.
In other words, I have started to conform and self-censor because the Americans might get upset and harass me.
Fast forward to yesterday.
I saw Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” and I had one of those rare moments where it felt really good to be “me”. For months I have felt marginalised. In fact, I have felt marginalised for practically my whole life, having always been isolated or harassed for being “gifted” (whatever the heck that means) and no filter. But these last few months, I have felt particularly isolated and down, because no matter where I turned — the mainstream media in a post 9/11 pro-war frenzy, my family and their racist bullshit, that email list that I talked about, even people at uni who should be more sceptical – there was this air of not only hatred and racism, but support for war, support for American culture, and propaganda against Muslim communities around the world.
I have also been confused about what I am supposed to do with my life, how I can use my diverse talents and interests to make a difference, and help somehow, whilst everyone is losing their shit. And, not only that, I have been frustrated that no one would listen to me when I expressed an opinion that was different to the norm. I felt invisible, again, and ostracised, and othered… on the Internet. My place where I get to be me, I can no longer be me, because Americans think the world revolves around them and for some reason make it my problem.
So I just stopped. I stopped debating with my grandmother when she talked about “those Muslims”. I stopped writing my blog and writing my book, and just writing in general. I stopped caring about me degree and worried more about finishing than learning. I stopped writing because, without my strong convictions and my strong sense of irony and humour, I had nothing to write about. I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing that my ‘craft’ was suffering, and I was becoming everything I despised: Someone who censors themselves for the sake of appearances.
I was becoming …mainstream.
And then I watched Bowling for Columbine (www.michaelmoore.com). I watched Michael Moore making a difference — rubbing against the grain of American mainstream politics. And taking galant risks for what he believes in, through his craft of comedy and filmmaking. I watched him challenge Charlton Heston in his own home and present the facts about American Imperialism. I watched him take 2 teenage boys that had bullets lodged in their bodies after the Columbine shootings to Kmart. I watched as he used his profile and convictions to cause Kmart to phase out the sale of handgun and semi-automatic ammunition.
Not only did I feel inspired, I felt vindicated.
I had an epiphany. I realised that it is a GOOD thing that I am different to all those women on my list. I am not someone prepared to settle for a house in a gated community to convince myself that life is strawberries and cream, and that blacks are a threat and everyone outside the US is out to get you. I am not prepared to sacrifice my convictions for fear of what some brainwashed, Oprah-watching housewives are going to say, because I am better than them. They will hate me for saying it, but I am, because instead of spending my days playing peekaboo and doing laundry, I have decided to make a difference in this world through my writing. And anyone who attempts to scare me into submission will not succeed anymore, because I am a different person.
I have realised that it takes strength to have opinions and it takes courage to express those opinions in face of opposition. I also realised that its okay to be myself, and being armed with education and writing ability puts me in a position of power in this world.
Now, while this may only be a weblog amongst millions, I have realised that there is a reason I was put on this earth — and that is to use my writing in the same way that Michael Moore has used filmmaking. It may sound arrogant, but I really don’t care. Consider this a mission statement for the blog entries to come. I will be writing my book again; I will be writing newspaper articles and columns. And I will make a difference through my art.
I promise I won’t make too many self-indulgent, Oprah-magazine editorials from now on. but I did need to explain why I disappeared. I look forward to feedback from people. Thanks for reading.
Narrator voice, 2023: she never wrote that book, or did those things. The world won.