In Kate’s State of the Prose she discussed a concern very near and dear to my heart:
A lot of people refuse to accept our self-identification as bloggers — no more, no less — and keep insisting that as long as Shapely Prose remains the most visible blog in the fatosphere, we have an obligation to “lead” it in ways that are never clearly defined and involve some highly mobile goalposts. So we made the difficult, much-discussed and verrrrry well thought-out decision to reduce our visibility in the fatosphere — by simply not being part of it anymore.
This passage resonated deeply as I also struggle to move beyond my -isms and be recognized as a writer first. By making a conscious effort not to write daily -ism updates, I have reclaimed some of my writer self. Gudbuytjane puts it another way:
As I’ve been thinking a great deal about the paucity of trans women’s voices discussing things other than trans issues for cis people, and inspired by some writing by other trans women, I’ve decided to open a companion blog to gudbuytjane: gudbuytjane’s Music Blog.
Trans women writing about things other than trans issues?! This feels almost revolutionary.
As a marginalized person I have been asked to put aside my artistic vision in service to “the movement”. This has meant some of my writing – and I am an incredibly prolific writer – has not been as warmly received as my frothy rants against whatever -ism was acting up that day.
In college this meant having my subversive Shop & Fuck fiction being dismissed as “low brow” while professors all but demanded a Beloved knock off. Professionally, it has meant I have been cutoff from the pop culture discourse because as a “Black” writer my thoughts on Sidney Lumet – unless it relates to his marrying Lena Horne’s daughter or the deliciously craptastic The Wiz – are not desired or welcomed.
By the way, those two Lumet items are related.
I could tell you more than you’ll ever want to know about James Bond, have spilled more ink spectacularly deconstructing the misogyny of Kubrick and DePalma – two directors whose work I very much enjoy – yet much of my published work focuses primarily on the ways in which I am marginalized.
I have a voice. My stylistic choices are deliberate. It is meant to be cheeky and accessible. I can ramble academically with the best of them. But c’mon, who doesn’t love “Zombie Playa” with a side of “Chicken Fried Fail”?
As members of marginalized groups we must tell our stories. There is no debate on that point. However, we must also carve out spaces where we are artists first and our -isms are merely the lens in which we explore our craft. There is space for a diversity of voices writing on a diverse collection of subjects. We need as many people living life as themselves first and their -isms second. This is the only way to be seen as complex beings, both as artists and people.
There are some days where just getting out of bed – here comes the oppression rundown – as a fat, queer, black female is all the radical action I can manage. And if on those days I want to wax poetically about Jack Soo’s nuanced performance as Det. Nick Yemana rather than give an -ism update, who are you to tell me it lacks merit and derails “the movement”?