Still Burning

We’re coming up on a year since I went mildly viral with a facebook post just before “Justice” Kavanaugh’s confirmation. It got somewhere in the neighborhood of 8k shares across all media platforms, if you count all the copy and pastes because I was hesitant to make it public at first. 8000 is a nothing number in the internet world. It’s barely a blip when a terrible Buzzfeed listicle can get 80k just by showing up. But it was bigger than I had ever seen.

I find myself reflecting on it now and again, though. As I pointed out in my blog post follow up “New Pompeii”, the original piece (belatedly titled “Lava”) wasn’t well thought out or even particularly well written. It came from a visceral place of sorrow and fury as I watched women everywhere despair of our voices ever mattering. It poured out of me on a Thursday night just before I turned my phone face down and went to sleep. By morning it had resonated with a number of friends and by that night it was resonating with their friends. It took about 4 days to saturate. I copied it to this blog where it got a couple of trolling comments and a few more supportive ones. It spiked traffic here for a few days then, as with most things as ephemeral as digital copy, it faded into the background and finally altogether. 

I didn’t attempt to capitalize on my 15 minutes (more like 15 seconds) of fame. Some of that is to do with my own personality and not being comfortable in the spotlight, but some of it is to do with shame. It reads as white, cis, and able. On the one hand, that’s authentic to me – I am all of those things. The fact that it resonated so acutely with so many others only highlights the mainstream nerve it hit. But for the 8k people it resonated with, how many tens of thousands did it exclude? How many women of color, trans women, disabled or neurodivergent women could have told a more nuanced story that would have resonated with better truth? They weren’t silent, and yet their voices were not to be found as readily as mine. That doesn’t negate the cacophony of agreement that came; it’s just something that weighs on me. 

Fortunately, there have been numerous voices in the conversation since. But I think most gratifying to me is that there continues to be the conversation. I don’t think the lava has slowed. I think I was right that the anger would not abate, that it would advance on the subterranean trajectory it was on, and that putting out the fires would become harder and harder. No one I know has, in the past year, become more accepting or more complacent. It’s true I don’t know a lot of people, but I think even a small sample size is representative. I can’t say that we’re moving forward, but I am damn sure we’re not giving up ground. We’re scorching it first. As conflicted as I am about why my voice was heard so far and wide, I am still proud to have helped give form to the pyroclastic cloud emerging from women everywhere.

I believe we are still burning. Slowly, maybe, but just as inexorable as I predicted.

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