Still I Rise

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


I’m about to begin the mammoth task of responding individually to all the comments on my previous post. I think saying thank you is almost redundant, but here goes: thanks so much! I didn’t publish that post to get compliments however, but to assert my position. I also think the article I linked, Better Homes & Bloggers by Holly Hilgenberg, was interesting. That’s why this topic is spilling over into a second post.

The more I think about it (and I don’t think I expressed this properly in my previous post), the thing that really bothers me about some of the comments Hilgenberg received below her article on Bitch magazine, was their dismissive nature. She’s accused of being ‘negative’. But the whole point of Bitch magazine is to examine popular culture in all its forms from a feminist position. That’s not being ‘negative’. Why can’t we ask how things like race, sexuality, and family or economic status influence which blogs by women are picked up and promoted by the media? I don’t get it, do people really think blogging isn’t subject to the same inequalities as other forms of media? Or that the wider media itself doesn’t focus on particular types of blogs in their ‘top 10’ lists, and the like? Isn’t it possible to both ask these difficult questions, as well as celebrate female success in blogging and business? I really don’t think probing these issues takes away from the success of women who create a popular blog, and it shouldn’t be a ‘taboo’ subject amongst bloggers. I also resent the response that when any woman dares to ask these questions, or raise this topic, she’s just ‘jealous’.

Okay, I’ve spoken enough about this. I can’t help but want to finish this post with a poem by Maya Angelou, who reminds me that different women and their stories and histories aren’t always shared, represented, or acknowledged equally. That’s not ‘negativity’; actually, acknowledging this helps the fight for equality for all women. Plus, it’s just a great poem (I hope it puts some fire in your step for the rest of the week):

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Image source: Maya Angelou by G. Paul Bishop Jr.


suzie said...

Hila, I'm sorry I only had the time to give you a quick tweet rather than my considered response here on your previous post!

It is a terrible shame that any woman raising questions that make others squirm is labelled either 'jealous' or 'negative'. I choose not to read the types of blogs cited by Hilgenberg. My choice, despite on paper at least I'm the right demographic for them.
Your blog however is one of those I'm always excited to see pop up in my reader. No niche or agenda, just thoughtful and though-provoking. Of course, not every post interests me but why should it? It is after all your Kingdom, your rules and that's what makes it so compelling.
Thank you so much for the poem. It made my feel a lump in my throat.

Stephanie said...

I didn't get a chance to read your last post until now, but I'd just wanted to say that you're blog is beautifully written and exactly what it should be: A reflection of who you are. Blogs are supposed to be about self expression, and if that's what your blog is, then you're doing just fine. : )

I love how you responded. And this poem is awesome.

♥ w o o l f ♥ said...

dear hila

i've been scrolling to and fro', you know... from here, to holly hilgenberg's, through comments. curiosity almost killed this cat!

i wonder if it starts, indeed, with one reader's or one blogger's {in}security, which says a lot about the feminism involved?

let me rephrase that.

i feel all sides to this matter talk sense. i think commerce is killing art in the first place, then human conditions. or perhaps both at the same time.

i read blogs {since we're talking mainly blogs here}; i switch, i like something, i throw out something else. it's an ever changing landscape in an ever increasing pond. i take inspiration from places i like, i collect, select, discard.
and i create.
and i need all sides. as much feminism as machism {which most probably isn't the proper word for it - macho-ism?}.

all while (literally) baking here, over at this end, an omelet! omni tasking, and through the process, wondering. truely wondering.

all of this was interesting. i take these conversations to heart. and i go on. i think we all just have to go on, for as long as we live.

cheers, hila. by the way. i did stumble upn your blog, and i lingered. i guess i like the meandering thoughts and observations.
and the theories.

kind regards,

Anonymous said...

I'm a poet who got my MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, and I am more than surprised at all the flurry over negative comments. Really, It's not a blog specific issue. Criticism comes to me in written letter form after I publish a poem, verbally in workshops, via e-mail etc. Writing will always illicit responses, in agreement or not, if it's provocative or interesting in any way. Publishing writing, online or elsewhere enters that work into the public discourse. I can hit a delete button or put my fingers in my ears, but hey, a dialogue is better than no readers. Just sayin'--

Hila said...

Anon: I agree it’s not a blog-specific issue. And yep, having readers is better than none. This is a tough issue for me. I guess the ‘the flurry over negative comments’ on my part is because of their tone: some are downright sexist and condescending. As a feminist, of course I’m going to discuss them. Why shouldn’t I? Why should I keep quiet about them and just accept sexism? Why should I shut up about people who feel it’s their moral obligation to ‘correct’ a woman and make her feel bad about her education, opinions and personality? This kind of criticism is vastly different from say, a critique of a poem, in which differing opinions enrich a discussion. Instead, the kind of criticism I tend to get seeks to shut down discussion; it’s not a ‘dialogue’, it’s a way of ending one. These kind of negative comments don’t contribute to a debate, they seek to shut one down.

With regard to the negative comments on the article I linked: I felt some of them tried to do the same thing – they tried to shut down debate about a valid topic, by suggesting the author was being ‘negative’, or that readers who feel the same are just being too ‘sensitive’. Such comments are classic examples of shutting-down discussions on many feminist debates, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard them.

I do get where you’re coming from, as constructive criticism is what drives writing and publishing in my field too. But I don’t think some these comments come from the spirit of productive dialogue, and it can be a tricky minefield for a blog author to navigate them sometimes. At the end of the day, I have to stick with my instincts and what I feel to be right for my own blog.

Hila said...

Suzie: this seems like a pretty thoughtful and considered response to me, no need to apologise! This poem leaves a lump in my throat too.

Stephanie: thanks :)

woolf: hello, thanks for stopping by. I often wander to new blogs from comments left on others too. Thank you for lingering here, I appreciate it.

Rambling Tart said...

I have great welling feisty feelings arising after reading your last two posts, Hila. :-) I so strongly resist the efforts of others to suppress the voices of anyone, no matter what those voices are, and especially when those voices (like your oft-feminist one) is raised in support of freedom, equality, and genuine respect. Why would anyone in their right mind seek to reign in or water down such thoughts? Being told my entire life that I am NOTHING because I'm a woman, then coming to your blog each day and finding words that say: you matter, you are valuable, you have something good to bring to this world - oh Hila, it means the world to me. I suppose that's where the feisty feelings come from. My deep unwillingness to ever let anyone oppress me or other women again. I know I can't protect myself or anyone else, but I can strengthen myself, strengthen others, and if enough strengthening voices are heard, the bullies will lose their power. So keep writing. Keep talking. Keep thinking and sharing your thoughts. You are needed. :-)

Hila said...

Rambling Tart: I think we're all needed :) I'm tired of reading what women 'should' be - we're being 'shoulded' to death. Enough already.