I had an epiphany while in the shower late last night. Actually I had two, but for now I'll save the second one for another time. Earlier in the day, whilst dog walking I listened to a podcast interviewing Caitlin Moran (Nerdette talks to Caitlin) where she talked about her realisation that we need to celebrate and harness the power of pop culture to lead social change.
She gave the example of a Doctor Who episode (please excuse my summarisation as I've never actually seen any of the show). It seems there was a bisexual character who kisses the infamous Doctor. The next morning brings tales from the playground of Caitlin's child's school of boys arguing to play the character. She exclaims that no amount of policy making or political campaigning has the immediate impact of pop culture.
Caitlin also discusses her new book where each chapter is a topic women try and keep secret. She says the world sees 'maleness' as normal, and female specific experiences as 'abnormal'. For example we're allowed to see copious amounts of blood on screen if someone is being shot in the head, but showing a man's finger with period blood on it (in Girls) is deemed shocking.
Just prior to my shower I'd watched Caitlin interview Lena Dunham , and Caitlin said that what Lena had powerfully done with her tv show Girls was to normalise female experiences.
In a way, Lena tried to reclaim the word normal from the media. Lena said she wrote the show because she didn't see herself on TV and its crucial that we can all see ourselves in media. I watched (or read) something once, but for the life of me can't find it, about a newsreader with a Chinese background. She said that as a child she'd literally never considered that she could be on TV as she'd never seen anyone like her on the screen. This stuff matters people; we need to see and hear our own voices.
We have been raised to not discuss female things. Abortion, periods, rape, female body hair etc. We are not allowed to say things like, "Shit, I need to take my tampon out.". Men things are normal, female things are not.
With all of these ideas and dialogues in my mind, back to my shower epiphany. These things explain why blogs are so popular, in particular why lifestyle blogs are so popular with women. We're crying out to see and hear voices the same as ours. We can't find them on TV or in magazines, and so we've turned to the millions of self-published voices to find ourselves in them.
It also confirms the power and weight that bloggers with influence hold. In the same way that Lena and Caitlin don't owe feminism a perfect solution, influencers don't owe their readers a moral obligation to be a trailblazer for a cause. However, collectively our power is that we get to be the voice we didn't hear, the images we didn't see when we were growing up. We get to widen the landscape of what it means to be a woman, one blog at a time.
Fuck me, isn't that glorious? We get to reduce the shame and embarrassment, anxiety and fear that often silently connects women. We get to start and join in with conversations that end with a collective, "Gosh, me too!" which can instantly lift the weight of femaleness we carry. Never has sharing the everyday been so powerful.