Saturday, July 29, 2006
Blogging: a woman's life
Why do we do it? People often ask, and sometimes we ask ourselves this as well: why do we feel compelled to write these details about our lives? Why do we expose ourselves in this way, and why do we do so anonymously?
Today I'd like to write about the personal and political importance of female blogging about sex. There are blogs about women's issues that will tell you how to get emergency contraception, or successfully mobilise grass roots support against --for example--a senator who would deny emergency contraception to women who have been raped.

But there are also blogs that will talk intimately about women's personal experience of sex, that will discuss the techniques of deepthroating, or chronicle a woman's love or hatred for performing oral sex, and so on. Women discuss their experiences of domination and submission, and debate the psychological and political significance of these acts. Why?

It's one of the insights of the womens movement that the personal is poltical, and it is one of its most profound insights that the "personal" includes our sexual politics. I self-identify as a slut, and this is for me in part a political act. I also write a sex blog, and this also while highly personal is a political act for me. The phenomenon of female sex blogging is a political act; one reason is that it has allowed ideas like the above to be raised and discussed widely.

The anonymity and availabilty of the internet has meant that for the first time, a broad spectrum of women now have the ability to speak authentically about their sexual lives. We're not paid; we are not porn produced for a male audience; most of us write without thought to how many read us, or who, or if anyone does. We're not dependent on male editors, we're not dependent on male advertisers. The anonymity of the internet has made it possible for many of us to speak. A few of us aren't anonymous, and that is also a personal and political choice.
All of these choices: to write or not to write; to post pictures of ourselves naked or to not, to be anonymous or to not be anonymous---these are all highly personal choices, and all have political consequences as well.

In a perfect world, perhaps none of us would be anonymous: none of us would have any fears of professional consequences or social, or any fears about being stalked or threatened (or worse) by someone who has read us. The dangers of that are very, very real.

In my own case, one practical reason for my anonymity involves my job, as all those close to me in my personal life already know my blog--some I told, some stumbled across it. But no one should feel that they "should" tell people close to them about their blog; many of us need that distance in order to be able to write as we'd wish. For many of us, writing the most intimate details of our lives is a kind of therapy or confessional, and like therapy or the sacrament of confession, requires some promise of confidentiality. (and like all of us, the anonymous and the known, there are things never written by us, because they are too close and too intimate to be shared with anyone but our lover)


Preserving my anonymity also means that I preserve that of my lovers, past and present. It also has to do with privacy: I write sometimes about things that otherwise, only those privileged to actually fuck me would know about me; I do not choose to share that information indiscriminately, no more than I share my actual cunt indiscriminately.

Finally, as a writer I seem to need the illusion of total privacy when I write; I need to pretend while I write that no one anywhere will read what I write. I know in some way that I cannot explain that if that illusion were shattered, the internal watchspring that is the mechanism for my writing would break.

Those are some personal reasons for me to blog anonymously. Here are the political, that apply to us all:

My anonymity means that I am like that girl you fuck from behind, the girl whose face you never see.
Who am I? I'm one of many, many women.

I could be the girl next door.
I could be your ex-girlfriend; I could be your best friend.
I could be your doctor.
I could be your librarian.
Maybe I'm your sister; maybe I'm your co-worker.

Or maybe I'm your wife.

I could be any woman; and this forces the reader to realise that I could be speaking for every woman. Maybe you read us and think we're an aberration; maybe it makes some (men, especially) more comfortable to think that. That way the spectacle of female desire can be ignored or dismissed.
If you could hang a name on each of us or a place you could tell yourself that "real" women--the women you know and love--don't think or feel or want like me or Chelsea Girl or any of the many others.
Anonymity means you can't do that. You don't know who we are.
Look around: there's many of us now, many women, all writing about female desire, in a way that hasnt been available to us before.

Who are we all then?
Just women.

Just your average girl with an internet connection, telling the secret truths about our lives.

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
--The world would split open.
Muriel Rukheyser


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Update 8/1: More on women and blogging, especially sex-blogging. A post by Susie Bright on BlogHer.
Thanks to
Miss Syl for pointing me to it!

Update 2: Figleaf responds, and offers some thoughts on female competition--check him out!
posted by O @ 18:12  

39 Comments:
  • At 29 July, 2006, Blogger chelsea girl said…

    I have to admit, I've never quite thought about it this way. I've never thought about my choice to semi-anonymity makes me Every Woman, nor have I really considered it a political act.

    So thank you, O'licious one for giving me a new perspective.

    And just to respond, your post kind of takes this everywoman want/desire/experience thing from a male perspective in asserting that the he of our readers may wonder.

    What about the she?

    Does your anonymity compel women to identify with you when they might not if they knew exactly who you are? Does mine?

    Does another woman read your blog thinking, O, she could be my sister, my teacher, my doctor, my ex-girlfriend, my neighbor?

    And what does this facefree female author persona do for those readers? What does your anonymity--or mine--or that of any other female blogger--do for those many readers reading right now, out there, in the black?

    Just sayin' is all.

    kissykiss,
    chelsea girl

     
  • At 29 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    And just to respond, your post kind of takes this everywoman want/desire/experience thing from a male perspective in asserting that the he of our readers may wonder.

    What about the she?


    As usual, you're absolutely right. I think that issue is probably a post of its own. But shame on me to write a post about women and the importance of sex blogging by women and only mention it in the context of a male reader!

    But I'd argue that anonymity does different things for a male reader and a female reader; it's no less important in either case, though it works quite differently. It's a political act in each case: it unsettles the male reader and it reassures the female reader. this is why:

    The anonymity of a female sex blogger actually helps women to identify. You've written often and --as always!-- well about female friendships and female competition. You've also written a lot about the difficulty of female friendships, a difficulty I have also. As individuals, women who are smart and sexual make a difference in the world--but our individual influence is limited.

    In fact, our sexuality and our openness about it are often sources of personal resentment from other women. There's this competition thing that happens....I think often of one post of yours in particular, about high school: where some girl says That Chelsea Girl always walks through the cafeteria like everyone is looking at her...to which her brother replies, That's because everyone is.

    I think women reading me or reading you are more likely to identify when they do not know who we are. Sure, a woman reading any of us might think, this could be by my doctor, my student, my professor, my friend. But I don't think so.

    What I hope women feel in reading an anonymous female sex blogger, is this is me. This is how it is, this is how I am, these are things I've never told anyone.

    I think anonymity allows the female reader to feel the shock of recognition in a way she perhaps could not, if she knew the author as her sister or her friend, or as someone to compete with.

    I know that rare shock of recognition was one of the things I found in reading you, and I was also lucky enough to find a rare friend as well. Even though you always make me think harder and more, dammit! (but that is only one of the reasons why you're my blog goddess, and my Buffy...)

    Love,
    O

     
  • At 29 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    Oh hey, I realise now that as usual I could have just posted what you said:

    Does your anonymity compel women to identify with you when they might not if they knew exactly who you are? Does mine?

    Yep.

    kisses
    O

     
  • At 29 July, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're right. You do bring out a competitiveness in women. Like many women, I was raised to be desirable. Like many women, I am only intermittently desirable. Like many women, I feel great shame over this. Like many women, I desire, insatiably. And like many women, I resent the women who are desired.

    I won't presume to speak for your female fans, who are obviously legion, based on other posts. Clearly you are appreciated by boys and girls, men and women, and probably many in between. But I'll try to speak about the women who might read you but who might not feel that you speak for them.

    (I think there are probably many women who do read you and think, "Ah, this is me, these are the thoughts that I would speak if I had the courage to speak them.") And then there are some women who read you and think, "Oh please. Who the hell does she think she is?" There are probably lots of women who flip back and forth between these two positions.

    One might say of the women who take the latter position, "Oh, how sad. Insecure women who can't handle the spectacle of O's intense and beautiful sexuality." There'd be more than a grain of the proverbial truth in such saying. Yet I can't help but wonder if it doesn't go beyond the simple jealousy of the plain girl that the boys never look at for the girl who is visible, and thus alive. It might make you feel good to write it off that way (and I realize that I'm being presumptuous in using that "you") as indeed it makes me feel good to say, "Who the hell does she think she is?" But beyond these reflexes, perhaps inscribed in us by a (dare I say it?) patriarchy that makes male attention the coin in which female power must circulate, I wonder if there isn't some sort of utopian space in which plain girls and pretty girls could get together and talk without it being about who's more luscious to the boys.

    At least, I'd like to think so. But in order for that to happen, we'd all have to stop being threatened by me. I'd have to stop being threatened by your sexuality, and you'd have to stop...wait, you're not threatened by the women who don't want to be your friend, are you? Does it matter to you one way or the other?

    And there I think we have it?

    Hope I wasn't unkind. Your post got me to thinking and I wanted to say something.

     
  • At 30 July, 2006, Blogger Evil Minx said…

    I love when you make me think, O. It's like you remove the leash that was holding my brain back in the realms of everyday thought and set it free, to gambol and frolic among the alternative ideas you put out there.

    My brain loves it too.

    "The anonymity and availabilty of the internet has meant that for the first time, a broad spectrum of women now have the ability to speak authentically about their sexual lives... most of us write without thought to how many read us, or who, or if anyone does."

    So true.

    Additionally, this has also meant that, through using this outlet, women are now more able to explore their sexuality to a depth and degree that have not been widely available previously. Which heightens essential nagture of the anonymity that accompanies this phenomenon. As you so eloquently put it further on in your piece:

    "I do not choose to share that information indiscriminately, no more than I share my actual cunt indiscriminately."

    I would say that i couldn't have put it better myself, if i honestly felt that i would ever have had the guts to have even tried.

    As always, humbled and delighted to read you.

    Minx

     
  • At 30 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    Dear Anon,

    Your comment is great. I mean it makes me think, and not always comfortably, and that is something I value highly in life. Possibly more than anything.

    I really want to answer it now, but it's late and I'm tired and i think I'm not doing a good job, I'd written a draft comment that was just enormous--and i suspect incoherent as well. At any rate I realised some of it was too private to post here and I don't have your email, and so I have to go back to it when I'm less tired.

    But i wanted to post your comment right away for people to be able to read it, and I didn't want you to think I would not be answering it. I wanted you to have some acknowledgement from me right away that I've read it and really appreciate you taking the time to leave it, as well as the evident depth of thought in it. I promise to be back later today with a proper answer.

    Thank you again, very much

    very best wishes,
    O

     
  • At 30 July, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks.

    I should have proofread my comment more carefully. I wrote: "At least, I'd like to think so. But in order for that to happen, we'd all have to stop being threatened by me."

    An amusing slip! I meant, "we'd all have to stop being threatened." To elaborate: In order to have a dialogue, we'd have to be honest with ourselves and each other about our fears.

     
  • At 30 July, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear O,
    Thank you for your (and others) bravery to bare the much hidden personal side of your life. I have learn a great deal about myself as a women.
    Now if only I could rewind to high schools and years after with this article and comment, and show all of those pointed nose snobs that is what I tried to get them to understand.

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger Miss Syl said…

    As usual, your posts make me want to write mile-long responses. I'll forgo discussing my own motivations for anonymity and what I feel I (and possibly other women bloggers) gain/lose from it, and focus on only two points (but I'll probably still write a book--sorry).

    First, from your post:

    Maybe you read us and think we're an aberration; maybe it makes some (men, especially) more comfortable to think that. That way the spectacle of female desire can be ignored or dismissed.

    You know, it's funny, but when it comes to men, my experience of it is the complete opposite to the above. I often read comments from males on female sex blogger's sites praising them to the skies for being so sexual; and it's usually followed with comments like, "I wish my wife/girlfriend were more like you." To which I always want to say, "Maybe she IS. Maybe she's even this blogger. Have you ever ASKED her about her desire and how it manifests itself for her?"

    In any case, it always seems to me that men assume (faultily, of course) that women are in general LESS sexual and have less desire then men do--so in a way, yes, that would make female sex bloggers an aberration in their minds--but to me it also seems that most men feel they'd like more aberration than less. I sense more fear and resentment related to lack of expression of desire.

    Of course, that also makes me wonder if all female bloggers actually express their desire outside of the blog. I suspect based on their comments about hiding certain things from husbands or lovers that many of them might not do so as effectively as they could--that they are using the blog as a way to express their "secret desires," rather than just expressing them.

    How sad on both sides, then, if so many people are hiding desire and need and understanding from each other in so many ways.

    The second point is in response to a comment by your first anonymous person.

    You do bring out a competitiveness in women. Like many women, I was raised to be desirable. Like many women, I am only intermittently desirable. Like many women, I feel great shame over this. Like many women, I desire, insatiably. And like many women, I resent the women who are desired.

    I think this is another huge misconception about female sex bloggers (FSBs), and a direct result of anonymity. Because we are more or less unknown and unseen and can therefore not be "assessed" in the normal way women are, people make assumptions. Most especially, I suspect people assume because FSBs express their desires and sexual experiences openly, that we are naturally all the height of desirability when it comes to females. Beautiful, strong, confident--the women that gets all the men and keeps them wrapped around her little finger.

    They assume we don't experience the same fears and doubts about ourselves as other women do; that we all fit the highest standards of traditional female beauty, and that we don't ever experience rejection or insult. They may even assume that we are more accomplished or better in bed than other women.

    Anonymous: All of this is entirely unfounded. For one, desirability and good performance are entirely subjective things. Just because a person does certain acts, sleeps with a certain number of partners, or thinks or says she's good at an act doesn't mean every partner she has (or doesn't have, for that matter) will agree, or that every person will find her desirable. And as to women's insecurities, having gotten to know a few female sex bloggers on a slightly more personal level, I don't think I've met *one* who doesn't struggle with these issues.

    Some FSBs choose not to discuss these things, allowing for the impression of complete desirability and confidence at all times. But IMHO, all the best FSBs, including O here, CG, AAG, Minx and others, are quite clear that this isn't the case. And this is what makes their writing so compelling. If you read our blogs in depth, you'll see posts that reveal the many commonalities FSBs share with other women, both in desire and self-doubt.

    For me, this is a hopeful and wonderful thing. That we can share and embrace both our sexuality and our insecurities together makes me feel more bonded to these women...and to all women.

    Sorry for taking up so much space, O.

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger figleaf said…

    "My anonymity means that I am like that girl you fuck from behind, the girl whose face you never see."

    Thanks for the wonderful insights, O! Though I too have a pitch for broader gender relevance. I might not qualify for a BlogHer seminar but the reasons you articulate for blogging, and especially for blogging anonymously, totally resonate with me.

    Also, while your metaphor for not seeing your face doesn't quite work for me (I'm not that kind of guy and I'm not sure that many other men really are either) your larger point that through anonymity one can be heard more broadly is very well taken.

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Anonymous jay said…

    It's foolish to think that you're anonymous on the internet and when you post anything because firstly you have an internet service provider, second there is a I.P. number and if you venture onto adult sites there's an added risk of being earmarked by government agencies.

    It's a pretty post you wrote but it's immature. Grow up.

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger some girl said…

    Well said.

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger Anastasia said…

    "and like all of us, the anonymous and the known, there are things never written by us, because they are too close and too intimate to be shared with anyone but our lover)"

    That bold bit, for me, sums up my idea of anonymity. I suppose it's an individual thing. For me, I wouldn't reveal each intimate detail of my current sex life (if I had one, that is lol) because I need to retain a little bit of wonder for myself.

    A stalker can still try their luck, whether one is anonymous (non specific identity) or 'out'. It's a multi faceted debate, because in theory we're not anonymous if we're purchasing things using credit online and I don't know if it's possible for anyone to have a home internet account without giving their details to their telco.

    It makes me question where Internet anonymity really exists or is achievable or whether a writer 'in print' has more of a chance at being anonymous by using a nom de plume and not making public appearances, where the reader can only approach the writer through their publisher or agent - whereas on here, people can email the writer directly, and if the writer replies back, then that information can be used as well if one was so motivated enough, I suppose.

    All up, interesting food for thought.

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger AlwaysArousedGirl said…

    I love this post.

    In a way, I wish that I did not need to be anonymous. Why should it be a secret that I want to try anal, or that I like to swallow, or whatever?

    Why shouldn't those things be simply preferences, just like my preferences for certain books or restaurants?

    And btw, Miss Syl, thank you for putting me in such stellar company.

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    wow, so many comments, and such thoughtful ones--thank you all. I'm going to answer in reverse order:

    Dear AAG,

    Thank you, I'm so glad you liked it.
    In a way, I wish that I did not need to be anonymous. Why should it be a secret that I want to try anal, or that I like to swallow, or whatever?

    Why shouldn't those things be simply preferences, just like my preferences for certain books or restaurants?


    Well, I think they are just preferences, and there's nothing wrong about one or the other. I've written about that here.

    But I don't choose to share that information about me casually. I will (and do) quite happily engage in debate with anyone about sexual mores, but that doesn't mean I have to tell just anyone what I'm personally into, anymore than I have to tell them all about my emotional life indiscriminately. It's probably a surprise to people who read me, but I'm a very private person in many ways, and that's what I seek to preserve.

    Best
    O

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    Dear Anastasia,

    Thank you so much for commenting, and I am so pleased that it was this bit that resonated with you:

    "and like all of us, the anonymous and the known, there are things never written by us, because they are too close and too intimate to be shared with anyone but our lover)"

    That bold bit, for me, sums up my idea of anonymity. I suppose it's an individual thing. For me, I wouldn't reveal each intimate detail of my current sex life (if I had one, that is lol) because I need to retain a little bit of wonder for myself.


    Yes, exactly. And it's true for all of us, I think, no matter what seemingly explicit details we do divulge. As you say, it is very much an individual matter. I could write a post that lavishly describes my lover's cock--but I'm not likely to write one detailing the books he reads. The reader can't infer the scale of values or priorities from that though, and to write explicitly about the physical means that i inevitably hide much of the physical, and much of the emotional.

    Thank you for reading, and for commenting.

    Best,
    O

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    some girl,

    I had you in mind and a recent conversation we had about blogging when i wrote this. There is this distance necessarily between what is revealed, and what is not.

    I had you in mind anyway, as I'm thinking of you!

    thank you

    love
    O

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    Dear Jay,

    You're quite right about ISP's and IP's and so forth, but you misunderstood what I mean by 'anonymity'. I'm talking about relative anonymity, specifically that of a blogger (or commenter, for that matter).

    But as to that, this is a good starting point.

    Cheers,
    O

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    Dearest Fig,

    How lovely to see you in the new place! Thank you for commenting.
    And yes, I was writing about women blogging about sex anonymously, but you are right, much of it applies to men as well. Though there again I'd argue that, while it may shake things up, it is simply going to have a different affect because of the differtial powers between the genders. Both are important, of course, though in deifferent ways, in the same way I'd argue that female anonymity means different things to the male reader and to the female.

    kisses,
    O

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    miss Syl,

    Now I need to write a dissertation in response! :) Some of it will be in the comment to anon 1, and some i will come back and address to you.

    Love
    O

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    dear anon 2,

    Thank you so much. It is always wonderful to get comments from anyone, but I especially cherish those from outside the blogging community. People who already blog and also on these subjects especially can be expected to have some of the same views about the importance of it, after all. It is always a huge boost to feel like it's relevant to others as well.

    Thank you, so much

    best wishes
    O

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, I'm Anonymous 1.0 and I'll try to keep it brief.

    Miss Syl raises some great points. In response;

    I should clarify that I do realize that I only know one part of any blogger's life: the textual persona, the part she chooses to share. I know you hurt and have days where your hair looks all frumpy and that sometimes people are mean to you. And I know that some of you had a crappy time in high school, too, even if everyone was looking at you. Maybe even because everyone was looking at you. I mean, who the hell had a good time in high school?

    So I'm not devoid of compassion.

    I'm not a regular reader of all the blogs you mentioned, just this one, so I can't speak about all the writers you mentioned (above disclaimer notwithstanding). I did click over to your blog, Miss Syl, and I did read your posts on this, and I was moved and maybe a little wiser. But check out the list you posted July 16. I don't have a list like that, not anywhere near. My life has had some lust and love in it. I'm not complaining. But such compelling evidence of hotness? Frankly, on the great balance sheet, I've had far more experiences attesting to my total forgettability. And it's not because I'm repressed or prudish. I love sex, and I'm good at it. But I'm also invisible.

    Maybe blogs like yours can raise the visibility quotient of women like me, but I guess I'm just more ambivalent about the possibilities of this writing than y'all are. Those men who say, "Wish my wife was more like you," are telling us something, and it ain't something good.

    I've had more than my fair share of airtime. Thanks. I promise all future comments will be on my new blog, to be called, defiantly, "Frump." ;-)

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    Dear Anon 1, ;)

    Yes, i noticed your slip, it made me laugh. I did know what you meant: that certain barriers have to come down in order for a dialogue to be possible.

    Ive been away and busy, but Ive been thinking a great deal about your commment. I would like to do a post on the whole issue of female competition, but I think i wouldn't yet do a very good job on it. One reason is that I can think of many, many instances where i've been the victim of it--not so many where I'm the instigator. Ive never fucked a friend's guy or tried to or spread rumours or backstabbed.
    But I think I must not be being entirely honest with myself. I have 'issues' (in the popular phrase) with competition. I tend to avoid it, I tend to compete by not competing. I'll think about this, and maybe I will do a post on it.

    Some of what I had planned to say Miss Syl beat me to. I wanted to point out that there is an assumption that you have made: that this is about a split between the pretty and the plain, and further, you assume you know what side of that divide I am on.

    My lover read your comment, and pointed this out to me--there's an assumption your readers make, he said, which happens to be true (he's sweet like that), that you're objectively hot. He said, this reflects a further and quite cruel assumption in our society that the experiences you describe are the special provenance of the beautiful only.

    I suppose I appear as desirable object, here, in what I write. But I'm writing about sex, and arent we all objects of desire, and the most beautiful woman in the world, in the eyes of our lover?

    I am quite ordinary, I assure you. Like anyone, I'm the ordinary extraordinary. I'm the ordinary individual with her own unique attributes.

    The reaction you mention, the "Who the hell does she think she is?" reaction---i do get that, not only here but in my other more full life. I think that reaction is about confidence though.

    I have only the ordinary amount of sexual confidence, which is to say, sometimes I have it, and quite often I do not, and I am nearly always very conscious of the many, many ways in which I am lacking or fall short.

    But there is this thing that happens, when you have sex with someone who is quite completely in love with your sexual self (which is not at all about objective hotness or whatever). In such circumstances, we do feel confident. I've been fortunate enough to have had a few such lovers, and to have one currently.

    As I said though, i do get that reaction from women in my work life, but there it has to do with confidence also, the display of a certain intellectual confidence. Any grad student of any gender is quite familiar with this. But it's only in women that this display provokes that sort of reaction,--she's so arrogant!-- when the response to a man with similar confidence, is that he's just confident.

    I think it is tied to our ideas of proper behaviour for women: we are not supposed to be confident, we are not supposed to speak assertively. We are supposed to be 'modest', where modesty is not about dress or comportment.

    Women who are confident--that is, who do not preface statements in seminars with "well, I think.." or "maybe.." --women who don't act timid, women who don't apologise in the same breath as they offer a devastating objection--these women are seen as bitches. Even though they are acting exactly as a man would, in such a situation.

    I don't automatically assume of women who don't like me--any more than I do of men who don't like me--that they're "just jealous" or just threatened. Like anyone, I guess, i first look to see what I've done that may have offended or hurt them. I never simply dismiss it.

    I don't feel automatically threatened when someone is competitive with me. This also might be offensive though; I have a certain level of confidence, in some things, --and few things can be more maddening, i think, than one's designated competiton seeming to be oblivious of a need to compete.

    I'm pretty oblivious.

    Am I threatened by women who don't want to be my friend? Well, like anyone, I'm hurt by that. Women are far more subtle in their exclusionary strategies: Phyllis Chesler's book "Women's Inhumanity to Women" is quite good on that.

    I'd close with saying that you're right, barriers must come down for any dialogue to be possible...I have the wish or hope that the anonymous female blogger is able to transcend those barriers for just that reason: on the internet, everyone is a dog.

    Thank you so much for this; I think I will do a post on it, possibly, though it will mean revealing more of my self than i usually do, in this new place anyway. Thank again, I am glad you commented.

    Very best wishes,
    O

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger O said…

    dear anon 1.0,
    damn, you are too fast, you commented while I was writing the above!
    You should have a blog! I'd link you and read you and comment regularly, I swear.

    Now you've convinced me to do a post on high school, dammit.

    My list wouldnt be like Miss Syl's; it would be different. But as Miss Syl points out indirectly there, it does have to do with what we choose to focus on. I bet you'd be surprised, in making up your own list.

    I've certainly felt invisible many times, and if people looked at me in high school...well, I'll write about that. But it's not what you think, I bet.

    And you are abso-fucking-lutely right: those men who say, I wish my wife (or girlfriend) were like you?? --That ain't good. Which is one reason why i wrote above:
    "or maybe I'm your wife".

    That's something I would like anonymity to do, to shake them up in that way, to think that the average woman they know thinks and feels and wants like me. Yes, their wife too.
    Because I think I am quite ordinary, and we are everywhere.

    Love
    O

     
  • At 31 July, 2006, Blogger Miss Syl said…

    Anon 1.0: O beat me to the punch in saying most of what I was going to say to you re that list on my blog. That list was developed specifically because, like you, I never noticed any of those things. I only noticed all the things that reinforced that I wasn't appealing.

    Like O said, it's about where you place your attention. Trust me, if you really thought about it-- catalogued every expression of attraction ever shown to you over your life, it would be a much longer list than you might think.

    There have been times when I have fit the sterotypical bill for a "pretty-perfect girl." There have been times, including now, when I do not. But at either time, regardless of how I felt about my outward appearance, I have been rejected by some and desired by some. That's just the way it works. No matter what you look like, you're always invisible to some people, and surrounded by celestial backlighting to others. The people who really SEE that light in you always see more than your physical characterisitics, anyway.

    It's true there may be fewer who really see you for how beautiful you are. I think this is the case for most of us. But it's a choice whether you want to tell yourself that means you're primarily invisible and unattractive, or highly visible and attractive to the people who matter.

    And by the way, I struggle with that choice all the time, even as I'm saying it as if it's easy. It's not. And I think most women struggle with it. At least pretty much every woman I know does.

     
  • At 01 August, 2006, Blogger Scarlet said…

    O,

    I have tried to comment on this post several times now, as you know however, a mix of medication and a rather poorly face leave me a little unable to do it justice.

    There are so many things that I would love to say. Alas, I find myself incapable of sorting the words in my brain into any sort of cohesion.

    All I can say is that I am glad that the internet gives me a voice I would perhaps not have found if I had to use my real name, not only because of the situation I find myself in, but also because to do so away from the pseudonym I have created would leave me stripped bare in a way I do not think I could deal with.

    I have only one point in which I could possibly disagree with this powerful post, O my darling you are far from average

    Yours as ever

    S xxxx

     
  • At 01 August, 2006, Blogger Big Boobs Are Kind of Neat said…

    I didn't have the attention span to read your entire post but I would like to respond to the question, "Why do we expose ourselves in this way, and why do we do so anonymously?" My psychiatrist asked me a similar question. I think the reason that I blog about my irreverant (yet potent) obsessions has partly to do with the fact that there are certain subjects that I am not entirely comfortable talking about even with her (or anyone else, for that matter). It is that outlet.

     
  • At 01 August, 2006, Blogger Fletcher said…

    As much as your words are needed by the your sisters, there are a few of us male creatures that need them as well.

    All of you that write of your warrior selves give us girly-men hope that maybe one can truly achieve a balanced union between maculine and feminine. Yes, that's dualistic. Sue me.

    So, as you help yourselves find each other, maybe you will help us find you as well.

    Because whether we know it are not (I do, being a clever bugger. Humble, did I mention that part?) we need you. We need you to be able to be who you are and not who we think you should be.

    &

     
  • At 02 August, 2006, Blogger O said…

    Miss Syl,

    To go back to your first comment, a dropped thread for me:

    There is so much i could pick out in what you wrote, i'll pick one:
    You know, it's funny, but when it comes to men, my experience of it is the complete opposite to the above. I often read comments from males on female sex blogger's sites praising them to the skies for being so sexual; and it's usually followed with comments like, "I wish my wife/girlfriend were more like you." To which I always want to say, "Maybe she IS. Maybe she's even this blogger. Have you ever ASKED her about her desire and how it manifests itself for her?"

    In any case, it always seems to me that men assume (faultily, of course) that women are in general LESS sexual and have less desire then men do--


    Does it really strike you as odd that this should be so? This is exactly why I think it's important for women to blog about sex anonymously. The setup you describe is all too familiar: what is it but a further reification of the old madonna-whore complex??

    'I wish my girlfriend were like you..."---well, duh! So pick a girlfriend or wife who is--or ask your girlfriend or wife what she really wants and thinks.

    these sorts of comments are EXACTLY what I'm talking about: female sexuality is often ok if it is the province of 'the other' woman--some other, not the kind you marry or bring home.

    that's why i wrote, "or maybe I'm your wife".
    love
    O

     
  • At 02 August, 2006, Blogger O said…

    My most beloved Harlot,

    All I can say is that I am glad that the internet gives me a voice I would perhaps not have found if I had to use my real name, not only because of the situation I find myself in, but also because to do so away from the pseudonym I have created would leave me stripped bare in a way I do not think I could deal with.

    exactly so. that's perfect. that's how it is for many of us: the intimacy required in stripping ourselves so bare simply requires that something be left hidden.

    I am so glad that you are continuing with your own writing, as you know I think it has a great deal to say, not only to me and the others who do have the privilege of knowing you and loving you, but to the anonymous female reader there in the dark, who will read you and find there an expression of what she herself has scracely dared voice.

    Always your,
    O

     
  • At 02 August, 2006, Blogger O said…

    My minxxxx,

    I think i might disagree with some of what you write, but i also think i may not really follow you. I'll pull out this bit for now:

    this has also meant that, through using this outlet, women are now more able to explore their sexuality to a depth and degree that have not been widely available previously

    Absolutely. Yes. The fact is that blogging has made possible the dream of the feminist consciousness raising groups in the seventies: finally, a woman's authentic voice, unmediated even by the presence of other women.

    love
    O

     
  • At 02 August, 2006, Blogger O said…

    fletcher,

    We need you to be able to be who you are and not who we think you should be.

    And must i give another reason as to why I love you?

    I am most fortunate to know you and call you my friend, and we are fortunate that men such as you exist.

    Love
    O

     
  • At 02 August, 2006, Blogger Djaevle said…

    I have nothing so eloquent to say.

    My tastes in anonymity revolve around the empty canvas, my self a creation of words, read and spoken.

    Great post, O.

     
  • At 02 August, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    For me, I have always had a hard time with female friendships. I don't have that sense of competition or threat that so many women seem to have towards other women. In fact, I think I've been the recipient of some of that hate, which may explain my basic sense of alienation from other women. I'm a geek in a male-dominated field, I went to a male-dominated college, and feel more comfortable around my male colleagues. I have an especially hard time talking to/relating to non-geek women.

    In any case, reading these sex blogs, anonymous or no, gives me a chance to see how other women think. To see what *real* sex and *real* experiences are like. Movies, books, and porn aren't realistic. They mostly cater to male fantasy, and so I've grown up with a skewed perspective on sex. When I read a sex blog, it gives me the chance to say "I could choose to be this". It also shows me *how* I could be that.

    For several years now, I've wanted more in my sexuality, but it was vague, and mostly prompted by my husband's dissatisfaction and statements (informed by porn, I guess) about how "other women" are X, or do Y. I never could see how I could possibly be that way. The sex blogs (especially the ones that speak in the context of feminism) have helped fill in the necessary thinking and theory that I needed in order to change/grow without losing myself. They also provide exposure to the various sex ideas (and sex language) in a nonthreatening, non-pressured, non-misogynistic way.

    The various sex books don't do it for me -- they never seem to be talking to *me*. But bloggers do.

    This is something I could never have gotten from my husband, from porn, or from most women (had I even had the intimate relationship this kind of talk requires). I've developed a much better attitude because now I don't feel threatened by experimenting, because I have a much more solid conception and acceptance of my sexual nature.

    Those of you who write about sex, and write well, really do the rest of us a service. Hopefully, it also allows men to learn about the range of female thinking and desires, too.

     
  • At 02 August, 2006, Blogger O said…

    dear anon 3.0 :)

    You really and truly have made my day if not my month with that comment. Thank you, so much.

    For me, I have always had a hard time with female friendships. I don't have that sense of competition or threat that so many women seem to have towards other women. In fact, I think I've been the recipient of some of that hate, which may explain my basic sense of alienation from other women. I'm a geek in a male-dominated field, I went to a male-dominated college, and feel more comfortable around my male colleagues. I have an especially hard time talking to/relating to non-geek women.

    I have to tell you--all of this is true of me as well. I'm one of very very few women in my specialty. For most of my life, close friendships with men have somehow been easier than ones with women. And I do mean genuine friendships--it takes a while to negotiate that inevitable sexual tension, but it can be done.

    One of the things I have felt is that women writing about sex in this medium is important for exactly the kind of situation you describe--it provides a way to find out what those mythical "other women" really do think and feel and want, without the distorting gaze of porn.

    Thank you, so much

    best wishes
    O

     
  • At 02 August, 2006, Blogger O said…

    Djaevle,

    My tastes in anonymity revolve around the empty canvas, my self a creation of words, read and spoken.

    On the contrary, your eloquence as always robs me of speech.
    Beautiful.

    best,
    O
    ps: I'm so glad you liked it!

     
  • At 06 August, 2006, Anonymous Freuds_Nightmare said…

    I don't think I could possibly add anything else that hasn't been said. However, it is incredibly comforting to see that I am not the only one who feels that blogging your most intimate thoughts is liberating, therapeutic and sometimes, cathartic. I enjoy your words, O, and look forward to reading more.

     
  • At 07 August, 2006, Blogger Tea said…

    What a great post, and ensuing discussion!

    So, here's my question: is the world splitting open yet?

    I can only hope that Muriel Rukeyser is sitting somewhere in a mouthy girl's heaven smiling at the truth of her own prophecy.

     
  • At 09 August, 2006, Blogger lumivox said…

    So, I go away and miss all the good thinkiness. And now this is old, and there's so much to say, whatever I muster will be inadequate.

    But first, as an aside, Jay: consider a remedial reading course. Focus on comprehension. It's best to know what a post is about before taking a smartass tone. Unless "dumbass" is what you're going for. I'm just saying is all.

    O, what compels me most here is this notion of the illusion of privacy when you write. It makes me think of something that recurs in T. Williams' plays, where a character will have a "private" space or retreat that is actually public. These spaces are fire escapes or side porches or screened sun rooms or the like. A place where a character goes for the illusion of privacy, but the escape is only from his immediate life, because the space itself is actually over or next to or in something like a street or a public market. It always made me think that writing for him was that same kind of escape -- maybe that kind of ironic interplay between publicity and anonymity, between the illusion of privacy and the ultimate exposure of publication. I realize that this is a bit of a stretch from your overall point, but maybe you see what I mean. And maybe I've managed to mostly avoid the total dumbass trap.

     
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