Saturday, March 16, 2013

Salamander Woman of the Week: Laura Byrnes

Now and then I read something like this, and I feel a lot better about what I have done since 2004, and why I have done it.

I am not longer in "deep cover" and 100% anon, and haven't been for the last 4 years. Many of the front porch know my very normal and garden variety self - but I don't walk around blaring it all over the place. Part of that is an online branding, part of that is I am comfortable with my alter-ego, part of it is I don't want it to be about "me" but about the ideas - and part of it is the fact I don't want to deal with all bother.

Laura though is a much braver person than I am, and her post is a must read not only for those who write opinion, but those who actively participate in the creative friction online. Here is just a taste;
I am opinionated, and I stand up for others. When called for, I stand up for myself. I don’t see myself as the only person who can or should be doing these things, and so I actively encourage others to do the same.

I’ve noticed a few problems that seem to come up as a result of my being open and genuine online:
I am very frequently told that *because* I have a platform, I should stay silent or risk being seen as “unprofessional”. I am told that my opinionated nature will hurt my business - in many cases, this is said in a very shaming and punitive way, as in “Well I’m sure once people see what you’ve written you’ll surely lose business”.

When I talk about this phenomena to well meaning friends, the phrase “You put yourself out there” will inevitably come up.

And it annoys me every time. Here’s why:

I reject the idea that if you distinguish yourself in any way - be it through your words online or because you wrote a best selling novel or a #1 hit - you forfeit the right to live as a fully formed human with feelings and opinions. That because you have more people listening to what you have to say, you must be sure not to say anything that might trigger an attack, and if you do? Well, you put yourself out there.
Someone attacks you for their own warped reasons, but it’s your fault because you have fans and opinions. Or because you chose a career in fashion, music, or film.

You dared to be pretty, smart, funny, or opinionated in public, so you get what you deserve. It “comes with the territory”. You “put yourself out there”.

Well I say, fuck the territory. I HAVE put myself out there, and I see the territory is infested with rats. I’m not going to shut up and let the vermin run rampant, I’m going to say “Look at all these rats, they need to go”.

... it is your imperative to speak up and stand up, no matter who you are, no matter what they say the “territory” is like.

Change the territory. Clean out the vermin. The only way to do this is by STANDING UP.
Hat tip Chap.

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