A brief exchange with a fellow blogger got me thinking about this topic. It’s not about him in particular, but it was the final piece that mentally fell into place for me. Why do we have to be so afraid of articulating our interests and experiences that fall outside of what the world perceives to be mainstream?
I’d long forgotten about being “Freshly Pressed”, that coveted WordPress publicity that says to the blogging world you are not just a good writer, but you say something worth reading.
I remember when I first started blogging I would read those who were Freshly Pressed and notice with longing others who had that badge on their pages. I told myself I wasn’t a writer and would never achieve such a blessing from the blogging powers that be. It didn’t stop me from wanting it, however. It’s taken me a long time to get more comfortable with doing something knowing I won’t be the best at it.
I was therefore somewhat relieved when I learned I could never actually be Freshly Pressed. Having adult content on my blog prevents it. Even if I wrote the most brilliant commentary on my feelings about the attempts to clean up the plastic in the ocean, it wouldn’t matter. My sex stories keep me off the radar (in other ways as well, but it doesn’t matter).
I’m self-hosted now, so am protected from what happened to other sex bloggers a few years back – one day their blogs were completely shut down and erased by WordPress. The company has every right to do it if we are violating their terms of service, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
If you follow some of my blogging friends on Twitter and Instagram you’ll have seen a lot of commentary about the various ways those platforms try to limit access to content they feel their readers shouldn’t see. I can’t show a nipple on Instagram if it’s not art, and even then, it could be taken down. Oh, but men and celebrity accounts can get away with pretty much anything. It’s a gross double standard and it’s tiresome.
Several bloggers have started a “Share Our Shit Saturday” (#SOSS) campaign in response.
It’s a great campaign but doesn’t address the root cause of the issue. Which takes me back to the exchange the blogger and I had.
Before I continue, I will say I have no issue with him. We’ve communicated off-blog before and he’s a decent human and a good writer. But this exchange got me thinking. It’s not so much about him as it is the broader issue I deal with every single day.
Like others, he occasionally promotes other bloggers on his blog. In his last post, he offered that anyone who wanted to be highlighted should make a comment to that effect. I made a sassy comment about never being Freshly Pressed or promoted because I’m R rated, but he could expose me if he wanted. He made an equally funny remark about a pending presidential race and how it might not be wise.
It’s not the first time a mainstream blogger has made such a comment to me. At varying times in my blogging life, great male writers with large audiences have told me I’m a good writer and they like my content (and they weren’t trying to get into my pants) but stop short of promoting me, as they may with mainstream writers they’ve built a connection with. The same phenomenon occurs on Instagram – I’m not followed by all of those who view my feed, because I can’t show up in their “follows” list.
What about my blog makes some people uncomfortable? The reality is out of almost 1,000 posts, there are a handful of pictures. Many explicit sex stories. But the vast majority is about navigating personal growth, dating, and relationships. I have a lot of sex, sometimes with men I don’t know all that well. But everything in here is legal and consensual. Never mind that I’m an intelligent and professional grown-ass woman.
I still can make people uncomfortable.
Have YOU ever thought “I like Ann’s writing, but I wouldn’t want all of my people to know that I read someone who writes so explicitly about sex sometimes” (or whatever things I write about that seem to be on the fringes)?
If so – welcome to my life EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I constantly have to think about how much of my “whole self” I can bring to a discussion. I need to be super careful about if and when to let a date know that I have a sexual appetite that may surprise them. I can talk about a few dating disasters at work and with family and most friends, but would never breathe a word about anything else.
I have written about dating on my personal media accounts, but you wouldn’t know my variety of interests by looking at the people and groups I follow. Those are safely segregated in my Ann St. Vincent accounts.
I know that not everybody shares my proclivities, my approach, or my transparency, and that’s completely expected and completely fine.
But wouldn’t it be great if people weren’t afraid of acknowledging interests, let alone experiences, which are deemed to be even slightly outside of the mainstream?
Perhaps then, we could have better dialogue about sexuality. Less shame over interests and kinks. Understanding that women fall into more categories than just virgins or sluts. A better understanding of consent. And far less judgment of anyone who falls outside what we traditionally believe is acceptable behavior.
How can we make this happen, people?