[Hey, it’s Tiger Beatdown Pledge Driving Week! And normally, I would insert a little schpiel here. But today, things are different. I have some stuff to say, it turns out. So here’s a button! And then, later, when we’re done talking, I’ll give you a button again.]
Hey! Who here is in the mood for some navel-gazing? AGAIN??
SPOILER: Turns out it’s me.
As you might be, by this point, really painfully aware, I have been, um, THINKING about the Internet Feminism lately. What it can do, what it can’t do. More specifically, I have been thinking about the Tiger Beatdown. And the Sady Doyle. And what, if anything, those two creatures are worth in the long run. What they started out to do, and what they’re going to do, and how those two things might be different. Because honestly? I don’t know any more.
Lately, I’ve been asked to tell the origin story of this blog. And, as with most things in my life — I am not a talented autobiographer! — I can’t remember. I have about four stories which seem to tell some part of the truth; coordinating them all would take the a dedicated historian, or maybe just one of those ESPN documentary crews whose job it is to wander around interviewing professional football players who have been hit in the head for a living 9,000 times and make their musings sound witty and insightful, with the aid of dramatic music and archival footage. The way Tiger Beatdown started, I am telling you, had to do with one or more of the following things:
- I wanted to Become a Writer.
- I was pissed off at dudes.
- I made a joke and it came to define my life.
- I wanted to impress a dude.
Part One seems sort of semi-correct. I hadn’t written anything in years, and I wanted to make myself write again. I registered a Blogspot domain, started typing a little bit of something every day, and then people started to read it. Part Two seems fairly semi-correct also. I had just ended a really long relationship, and for some reason when I started to interact with dudes other than my personal former dude friend, and to consider that some large part of my future might be affected by them, I was shocked — SHOCKED! And ANGERED! To find that sexism was a very large part of the picture. I dove into the feminist theory hardcore, because for some reason I thought that would solve the problems of my intimate life (see? It’s already funny. Becomes much funnier later on, trust me) and when I made myself try to write every day, that theory and its day-to-day application was what I wanted to write about. Part Three is a smaller story; I told my best friend that I was going to start a “blog about dudes.” She asked what its name would be; I paused for a moment, was like, “so what is the worst pun I could make in this situation,” and said “Tiger Beatdown.” A name like “Tiger Beatdown” becomes its own content-determiner, eventually, I guess is my point.
And Part Four was that I did start dating again, and this dude was way more accomplished than I as a writer, and was maybe the first person I’d ever met to share my radical politics, and I wanted to have something to hold his interest. So I made something to hold his interest, and I did hold it for a while, until we moved in together and both of our lives started to fall apart and we turned on each other and we broke up.
I’m not interested in talking about the how or the why of it. Mostly because I may never actually figure it out. These things happen. This one happened very painfully, for both of us; it took us both so long to figure out that it wasn’t going to work that, by the time we had, we’d managed to rip open every gaping psychic wound the other one had possessed. One of those things where you figure out that Dad will never stop drinking and yelling and telling you it’s your fault he’s so unhappy, and you’ll never be able to do what it takes to make him stop, and that’s because you just can’t do anything right, because if you were good he would be nice to you, because when he’s happy he’s so nice; one of those things where you realize that Mom will never be less vulnerable, and you will never be able to fix all her problems or protect her from the world, and for some reason the things you say and do just keep making her cry, and that’s because you just can’t do anything right, because if you were good you could help her, and you’ve tried and she’s still so sad. Except not really. In reality you are two grown-assed people who need very different things, and the things you need are so fundamentally opposed that you actually fit perfectly together; every place that you are capable of being hurt lines up with every part of him that is capable of hurting someone, and vice versa. It’s no-one’s fault and it’s everyone’s fault. It’s beyond the question of fault. What it is, primarily, is really fucking sad.
The point is, by the time it ended, I was no longer sure that I knew anything about myself. At all. I’d been telling you about myself for well over a year; I had crafted this cute, happy, strong, funny persona that just knew everything about everything, and all the while the world was ending. I was constantly giving these high-minded lectures on how men and women were supposed to relate to each other, and as my own life had made painfully clear, I didn’t know a goddamned thing. And, at any rate, my very meaningful project of using feminism to figure out my intimate life (I TOLD YOU IT WAS FUNNY) had blown right the fuck up in my face and scarred me for life. It was some Harvey Dent shit going on with me, is what I am saying. And after a while, I figured out that there was no pushing a reset button on it: I didn’t know who I was, or what I knew, and I could just stay with the sadness and tell myself how terrible and wrong and fraudulent I was forever — and I did; long after I’d started to put my by-this-point-way-more-OK life together, I couldn’t let go of those things, couldn’t stop repeating the tape loop of feminist and personal failure that I’d installed as an apparently permanent feature in my head — or I could be this new girl. New ambivalencies, new doubts, new sadness. New angers. New plans to kill the Batman! Which I hope you’ll all enjoy, and support!
But here we are. Tiger Beatdown is about to be two years old. I know! If this were a Tumblr, I would be getting some sort of cupcake graphic! And it’s changed, and I’ve changed. The question that has been killing me, and sort of crippling me with unholy doubt, is that I no longer know exactly what this space is capable of, or what I’m capable of. I’m no longer sure that I’m doing anything right. This isn’t whining; I’m not bemoaning my lot. This is what happens to people. (Especially people who are almost entirely self-taught.) (And if anyone has perchance heard of what exactly it is I’m doing or not doing correctly, and would be willing to tell me about that: Lines are open! You can tell me right to my horrible scarred villain face!) And, you know? That’s exactly where Tiger Beatdown started.
You guys, this blog is an experiment. It always was. Whichever origin story I’m telling, the point is that I started this space because I was learning. Because I wanted to record what I was learning every single day. Figuring out that I didn’t have everything down, that I wasn’t the smartest person in the world, that I was still capable of fucking things up, and that there were parts of me and parts of life and parts of being a Strong Independent Feminist Woman (who starts a feminist blog to impress her boyfriend: THE LAUGHS, THEY DO NOT CEASE COMING) that I not only hadn’t figured out, but that I hadn’t even known I needed to figure out in the first place… that is just not a bad thing. Because it means that, no matter what else happens to me, I have plenty to write about. I’ve been to Netroots, but I’ve never been to me.
I hope you’re still going to be around for that. I hope that the process of figuring things out is as good, this time around, as it was the last. No matter what else it is, it’s necessary. It’s necessary, is what I’m learning: To fuck up, to fall down, to embarrass yourself, to change without thinking you’ve betrayed yourself, to believe two contradictory things until you figure out that they’re the same thing or that one thing is wrong. That’s the whole point of this project. Feminism used to be referred to as “The Woman Question.” That’s still what I think it is. What I don’t think, these days, is that I have the answer. I don’t, and I never will. What I have is a blog.
[Yes, a blog! A blog you can support — she wrote mood-killingly — with donations! So please: Give a click, won’t you?]