Othering

Welcome to “Half-Way:”

We’re All “Others” Here


The downside of computer-based writing is that I can’t be tapping my pencil frantically against a bright-yellow legal pad while thinking of how to introduce myself to you, my dear readers.  That hollow drumming sound is one of life’s little pleasures.  Go ahead, try it.  I’ll wait.

Now you see what I’m talking about!

This isn’t my first blog (nor it will be my last, unless a big-time muckity-muck happens to read this and I end up signing a movie-deal for the rights to my story . . . in which, of course, Hollywood’s up-and-coming ingénue Emma Stone plays me – hey, a girl can dream!).

I began my foray into the blogosphere with a stint on Associated Content (and made a few bucks – and I do mean a few – writing about feminism in pop culture).  Yes, you heard me, I used the ‘f’ word.

Put the children to bed and draw the curtains, there’s a real, live, card-carrying, man-hating, lesbianic, FEMINIST in the room!  Well, one of those descriptors is accurate . . . you’re smart — I’ll let you figure out which one.

Surprisingly, I carried my wily feminist ways all the way through a semester’s employment at my conservative alma mater’s brand-new online edition of its newspaper, The Carthage Current.  I was chosen to be one of only five proto-bloggers in the launch.  My fellows’ topics included: technology/science, fashion, health and wellness, and pop culture.  My blog, entitled, “Unmentionables,” analyzed gender conflict in society.  Yup, this is about the easiest game of “One of these things is not like the other.”  (Bonus points if you’re old enough to remember that the genesis of that cognitive learning tool is none other than Sesame Street!)

I covered homophobia, re-touching, the war against women’s health, birth-control adverting, Safe Haven laws, shame in eating, and more.  Every time I hit “publish,” I smiled and winced a little at the same time.  You see, I like stirring the pot, but I still would like to avoid being, say, knifed in the parking lot of a campus that doesn’t sell or allow free, third-party distribution of condoms because students at this Lutheran-affiliated college just are too moral to be having sex, you see.

But, sometimes, we underestimate people.  When we speak the truth, loudly and with passion in our voices, sometimes people listen.

I never got comments on my blogs (a tradition I sincerely hope will be broken here), but when posts with titles such as, “Liar, Liar: The Anti-Women Misinformation Campaign” get more Facebook “likes” than any of the other writers’, you kind of have to re-evaluate your juvenile, “None of these rubes will ever understand me!”  (Please don’t send me hate mail — I said it was juvenile. Plus, don’t you just love the word “rube?”)

Image by Flickr user thierry ehrmann.

Image by Flickr user thierry ehrmann.

The thing is, being the “other,” as Simone de Beauvoir names the opposite of those in power in her famous work, The Second Sex, (e.g. – the female is the “other” because the male holds more power in society; the homosexual is the “other,” by the same logic, the black person is the “other,” in a Caucasian-dominated culture, etc.) is complicated.

Me, I’m overweight in a size-2 culture.  I have generalized anxiety disorder and a touch of O.C.D. in a world that wants me to be able to just “relax.”  I’m a strong woman with a strong voice in a room that gets uncomfortable when I speak.  I’m a college graduate without a job in an age when Facebook is the technological torture tool of, “Just landed that paid internship and am only writing this status to make all of you jealous!  And it’s definitely working!  Smiley-face emoticon!”

All of this othering sometimes puts you half-way to a mid-life crisis.  And I’ll be writing about those times.  But sometimes, like when Fall hits, fast and cold, and you warm up in the morning with your dog kissing your face, you know that your othering is somehow what allows you appreciate that moment.

I mean, Simone, the definition of the “other,” looks pretty damn happy in this picture.  That’s probably because she never married her long-term lover, Jean-Paul Sartre, never had children, and took up multiple side-affairs (with men and women).  That does put a smile on a girl’s face.

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2 responses to “Othering

  1. Yay for The Current shout out! You did an incredible job with the blog last year and we were so lucky to have you! We can only hope that writers with the same skill and courage continue in the tradition you helped to start at a school that will only get better from the shared perspective. Looking forward to reading more here!

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