Blogging scares me. In the best way possible. Every week, I put a little bit of myself out there and wait in thrilling anticipation to hear the responses of my family, friends and readers. Walk down any greeting card aisle and you will see the card that urges your loved one to do one thing each day that scares them. Blogging is my one do-it-every-day, scary thing.
When Rachel first asked me whether I wanted to blog, I was hesitant. I was nervous to open myself up, intellectually and emotionally, to a faceless audience. In middle school, I spoke up on behalf of girls who were forced to listen to boys’ ongoing commentary about their changing female figures. From that experience I unfortunately learned that speaking up and, in particular, asking for respectful treatment of young women, makes you a target for unwanted attention. I could not control the way my peers reacted to me then and I feared that I would feel similarly helpless if I blogged candidly.
But this fear is part of the reason I think blogs can be such a powerful tool for girls. I think blogging is a valuable, and under-utilized, resource for adolescent girls experimenting with having their own opinions and a loud voice.
The Internet gets a bad rap. We talk about cyber-bullying, incriminating photographs, and online predators. In short, we have come to think of teenage girls and the Internet as Snuggies and open flames: no good can come of it. The idea of young women utilizing the Internet leads parents and educators to say this. But the Internet can’t be all that bad; after all, no Internet=no blogs.
Over the course of my fledgling blogging career, I have introduced readers to my family and opened up about the heartache of college admissions. I have received many encouraging, thought-provoking comments and some that were not so nice. Blogging is an exercise in boldly being you, a collection of muscles all girls should stretch and utilize.
In short, blogging has given me a chance to fall in love with writing. Blogs are a safe place to try new things. I can write in ways that are not encouraged in academic papers. I can write haikus and letters to adults. I encourage young women to try writing, not for a teacher, but for themselves.
Blogging is a positive channel for the verbose nature of most teenage girls. In middle and high school, our words so often join a chorus of gossip and hateful speech. Blogging, regardless of the topic or readership, is a chance to reclaim the positive potential of words.
By far my favorite thing about blogging is the community it creates. I became a self-declared feminist in eighth grade, a statement that is not exactly conducive to the creation of a community of like-minded peers. In the cartoon version of my life, the moment I discovered Feministing would have included a group of cartoon bluebirds singing happily around my head, a smiling sun, and a cute little bunny grinning at me.
For those of you who don’t know, Feministing is a fantastic blog and the world’s largest feminist publication. Suddenly, I had a window into the real-live, honest-to-blog, feminist community and it was filled with young women just like me! I am also a fan of Jezebel, a fun, well-written blog about pop culture from a feminist perspective. Finally, I have fallen in love with the fbomb, a website created and run by teenage girls!
These blogs, among many others, are ports in the storm of degrading portrayals of women online. Through blogs, I have found a community of fearless female writers. And because of blogging, I can be an active part of this community.
Lilly is a high school senior and guest blogger for RachelSimmons.com. Read more about her here.