There wasn’t any buzz about IWD last week among friends, family or workmates. I didn’t even get an oversized email from the Dogs Homes Association inviting me to a chirpy womens’ cocktail hour with finger food and Kirstie Marshall or similar doing a motivational speech. Humph! so here I am, in the suburbs in my trackie dacks, writing a post about what it’s like to be a self-identifying feminist and blogger. First, let me introduce you to the Groke.
The Groke is a character in Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories, a classic and wonderful series which is shamefully understocked in Australian bookshops. The Groke is a creature who, long ago, had a magic hat stolen from her by two mysterious characters called Thingummy and Bob, and as a result has become bitter and cynical – and not a little sinister. The Groke is so cold that she freezes the ground where she passes. The Groke is like a scary ghost who glides out from the bushes and causes a lull in the conversations while everyone wonders what is wrong.
I’m pretty much a coward in real life. I know that if I speak up as a self-identified feminist I’m the Groke, freezing the ground as I approach with the chilly, joy-killing narrative. Of course it’s not so much my feminism that would be doing that, but the perception built on whole shedloads of strawfeminists over the decades. No sense of humour! Purse-lipped! Hates men! (OMG that means she hates me!). That’s not to say I don’t, to use the Americanspeak, call people on their bullshit, if I think it’s likely to be listened to. But I very rarely – that is to say, never – have the larger conversation about feminism and what is it and why do we need it.
I wrote a while back about sitting around on a summer holiday with family-and-friends, having a catch-up with everybody on what everyone’s doing, and how I deliberated with myself whether I’d take the conversational risk of dropping in the fact that I felt excited and chuffed about being asked to help adjudicate the inaugural Femostroppo blog awards. How, when I did that, the conversation kind of … froze over. Then it got going again on another tangent. So it wasn’t completely frozen – just where the Groke had passed.
In January I started posting at a larger group blog. In my first post, I introduced myself, and included a warning that I would sometimes be the Groke. Since then, I’ve only posted one item with a specifically feminist theme. Even in the more lefty-leaning sections of the Ozblogosphere, one can feel the earth chill as one glides out from the shrubbery to say that feminism isn’t over, everything is not fixed already. I’m not talking so much about the hateful pile-ons and other threats directed at women bloggers, but the constant trickle of let’s-be-reasonable, you’re looking to be offended, get a sense of humour, Dear God What about the Men? and all the other items on the antifeminist bingo square.
So, I admit, I need to show more courage. And I should also mention that being the Groke is the equivalent of being beaten over the head with a wet sock, compared to what feminist women in other countries put up with.