What really excites me about writing right now is that for the first time in my life, I’m realizing how much of a privilege it is to express myself publicly, and I’m trying to take advantage of that.
In the not-too-distant past, writing for an audience – even a small audience – was difficult not only in a practical sense because of technological limitations; it was also doable only for a select group and nearly impossible for women, people of color, and people otherwise lacking in social power. For most of history, millions of voices were muted.
I’ve taken it for granted that for my whole life, I’ve been encouraged by my parents and teachers to read and write; so much so that as a child, I never once doubted that that path – education, independence – should be available to me as long as I work hard enough. Which is why I didn’t even think about feminism until late high school or the beginning of college – I couldn’t see that despite my own privilege, there is a need for it.
But now I appreciate when I see how many people are getting their voices out there through student publications, blogs, zines, etc., and it’s inspired me to do the same. The DIY attitude behind a lot of these things is great, because it encourages all kinds of people to express themselves regardless of social or economic constraints.
Even though this was written and published pre-internet, this article is an example (a rather grim one) of a woman, Sohaila Abdulali, who wrote about something that was previously unwritable, especially in India. You’ll see, if you read the piece, the extent to which she had been belittled and silenced after the event that she’s written about, but she made a point of including her name and photo to show that she owns her voice and that she isn’t ashamed of what she’s written.