Thursday, March 6, 2014

Guest Post: You Have to Start Somewhere

Today's guest post comes from Emma Klues, who was also kind enough to contribute this poem a while back as part of the Identity in Balance series. Today, she shares some very kind words about blogging and helps me remember why I got started in blogging to begin with and just how important the community I built has been to me professionally, academically, and personally. 

Also, Emma runs some laughter yoga sessions! Check out her blog Laughter in the Lou to learn more about it and other reasons to laugh. 


Hello there! This is Emma, writing a guest post to you as a female human who took some sociology and psychology classes in college. My training in the issues of feminism is largely from reading Balancing Jane and other such blogs and news sources, informal discussions with friends, and general observations. I don't mean to downplay those as legitimate ways to explore a topic, but simply to give you some context to the ramblings that follow. Ahem.

The Internet is huge. I mean large, expansive, seemingly infinite. My friends like to joke about days when they binge browse or read as that afternoon when they "finished the Internet". And while that rings true for many, I am fascinated by how the world wide web can really provide a springboard for richer and more meaningful conversations in person, personal introspection, and self-education. While I'm sure people used to go to the library and pick a Dewey Decimal section they knew nothing about to discover new topics (did they?), I truly value blogs as springboards to explore big, complex and intimidating topics. Allow me to illustrate an example:

Although I have always considered myself a feminist and supporter of equal rights for all, I barely explored the topic until I got to the life stage where everyone was getting engaged and married. But particularly, once I started following a wedding blog called A Practical Wedding, I began to really think through social constructs on a regular basis. For those of you who have ever browsed any corner of the internet on the topic of weddings, you've found some very frightening places. This is one of the rare exceptions. Here, thousands of women (and some men) discuss legitimate issues surrounding weddings and marriage, engagements and elopements, family and friends. Here, I have found a community where I can explore big, important issues that matter with a group of rational and sane people who respect each other, good writing, and differing opinions. This post is not an endorsement of the site (well, it is also that), but it's meant to say that until I found a place to have those conversations and to get appropriate resources for my level of knowledge on the subject, it wasn't as natural to explore them when I had 20 minutes of free time here or there.


Even today, I don't visit 10 different blogs each morning or keep up with 5 different sites exploring feminist issues, nor do I dive into academic research for fun. I visit approximately 3-4 blogs every few days (this one included), and then use those as springboards to explore conversations, content, other sites that interest me. I find it exhausting to think about trying to know what's going on with all feminist issues all the time. Even if I did naturally think, "I should catch up on the state of women in this country in my spare 20 minutes", where do you even begin? How could I ever even know if I was finding a good article to read, or if that person was incredibly biased, or what to do about it?

Link roundups and other people's assessments allow me to explore at my own pace, form my own opinions, and discuss as I feel comfortable. But they also arm me to have meaningful conversations with my family and friends, co-workers, or, let's face it, anyone. Being able to tune in to someone who I know IS scouring the interwebs and finding all the articles and curating them into, say, the good, bad and curious, is not only comforting to a research hound like myself, taking the pressure off me to find all the things, but gives me a tangible (though not physical) place to go and explore these topics. I am continually grateful that when I see something interesting in my newsfeed on Facebook but don't know what to make of it because I don't have all of the tools, context or wherewithal at my disposal to process it, I can send it to Michelle. Maybe we have a brief conversation, maybe I see it pop up in her next post, or maybe I share it myself in a comment. I have a place to take it, I have a contact or community who shares those values and is willing to explore it with me, and I can trust people other than myself to help me make sense of it.

I certainly don't think bloggers have all the answers or that they are the one-stop shop to figuring out a giant field of study or solving a larger societal issue. But you have to start somewhere.

Photo: JunCTionS

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