For once, a very personal post: Anger and resentment and writing
I have a nice life. I live surrounded by my partner, my animals, my plants (I regularly share photos of both plants and animals on Twitter so many people have seen this already). I love to cook (ask me about my ice cream maker one of these days!). I have family, friends, community. I would say I am a happy person. I’ve had some very, very rough times in my life; I’ve written about some but not others. Right now, I am overall content even though sometimes I have huge difficulties dealing with anxiety and sequels from “the bad shit that happened”. The anxiety issues translate in a very self destructive tendency not to answer emails (to give one example) because more often than not, I just don’t know what to say or I am scared or whatever other negative emotion happens to take over. I unintentionally hurt people because of this, mostly because I expect they don’t know about my anxiety issues. But even, in spite of this, I am a content person, especially when I am not online too much or thinking constantly about painful stuff I am convinced I should be writing about.
Here’s what I am not: angry. I am not angry on my daily comings and goings. I have worked very hard not to let anger take over my life because it affects my health in very concrete ways. This anger I used to feel almost permanently because of “the bad shit that happened in my life” can be consuming and counterproductive. So, I learned to channel that anger through what I write. I have made an effort (I understand not always successful) to present that anger in a contained way, a way that would not alienate those reading (at least not completely) and maybe, just maybe, bring up some valid issues and some ideas to explore further. My partner usually hears me rant for a good while about a topic before something materializes in writing. He always jokes about how restrained the final product appears compared to the rants he had to endure. Which is to say, I try, as much as possible, to channel the emotion in ways that would get people to at least, try to understand my position rather than dismiss it a priori because it’s just anger.
The events of the past couple of weeks have brought this anger back. The “get Flavia to shut the fuck up” was a confirmation of what I already knew and yet, I didn’t give up all this time. The only reason I gave up for a while was not because my silence was convenient for others but because I felt I was making zero impact in the world. I am not humble bragging here or fishing for compliments (please do not send me messages telling me you love me; I understand that but, and this is probably a topic for a separate post, self perception doesn’t always match other people’s perceptions). I sincerely believed (and to a great extent still do) that no matter how many hours I devote to channel that righteous anger into writing, nothing changes much. I also work in concrete ways in my immediate surroundings but I know for a fact that where I am the most effective and can have the most impact is with these attempts at analysis and theory. If anything, I can contribute to the body of work that others create by adding more texture and history. But even though I know this on a conscious level, it’s difficult to feel it, viscerally, when the odds seem to be stacked against you. The consequence of what has come to light in the past week or so is that I have no way to quantify the damage in material ways. “Get Flavia to shut the fuck up” means that I will never know if some people did not share or promote my work because I am a mediocre writer or because I was tainted by the accusations. It means I do not stand neutrally in the same way he was afforded neutrality (“I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt” is a phrase I’ve heard often repeated lately). Unlike him, I stand with my anger and my supposed resentment and my history of publicly criticizing what I’ve always perceived to be injustice.
I would like to stop writing about this and go back to my usual topics. I’d like to cudgel European immigration policies and racism and how these affect women as I’ve always done; I want to continue writing about media as usual but… ah yes, this is the big but. I now have an extra layer of anger about this media. I want to write about it as I’ve always done but now that I know what I know, now that this is publicly confirmed and extensively discussed, I have very tangible anger about it. Mostly, about the way a white cis affluent man got “the benefit of the doubt” and I didn’t. About how this media is complicit in perpetuating white supremacy in the name of feminism and how this has very specific and life altering consequences for Women of Color. The problem is: I don’t want to hurt people. I am not a martyr that will shut up to preserve people’s feelings because I am so noble. It’s just that I know my anger makes me lose perspective and I desperately want to keep perspective and clarity because it’s what makes me sharp. But I am angry. Those who gave him “the benefit of the doubt”, should be aware that I was paying attention and while this will have zero impact on how I tend to my daily, happy life, it will always be channeled here, in written words that others might read. And I’m not going to “shut the fuck up”.
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