Sunday, March 05, 2006

Who DO you think you are, or, "Gee, bitch, I didn't know you had a blog!" PART DEUX

So my anonymity is only partial--I identify strongly with race, gender, location (esp. post-Katrina) but do not use my real name, have not outed myself to anyone (on purpose) and plan to keep my real name, job, exact life details out of the blogosphere. I think that the trap of essentialism is harder in person than online. In person, faced with someone who looks female or who “looks black,” it is a knee-jerk reaction, wanted, followed, resisted or not, to make assumptions. Does she like Missy Elliot? I can’t believe she listens to Blue Oyster Cult! Or, as a professor who called herself a black feminist said to me, “Why study Samuel Beckett?” as if I were proposing to study the taste of praying mantis penis.

Not identifying race or gender can, though, help contribute to a better conversation, reaching those who might otherwise not listen to a woman/African American/Muslim/Roma/American Indian/transgendered persyn/etc. It needs to remain an option. It is also a radical position. The disadvantage is you cannot organize online with any of the groups you claim not to belong to. The sour in the sweet.

The anonymity questions I want to answer from the anonymity/pseudonymity meme:

Is your blogging persona more serious than your real life persona?
Ironically, I think I display more of my “true inner nature” on the blog than in real life as I switch between my daily personas of non-tenured professor and colleague, writer, mother, spouse, daughter, neighbor, citizen. I use more of my sarcastic humor and wild analogies on the blog, to my great satisfaction. In real life, I must be serious (most of the time, anyway) to be taken seriously.

Do you think that your blog could ruin your career?
Absolutely, hence my answer to number 4. (I am admittedly a touch paranoid.) I am sure that my true opinions, feelings and way of living could easily become an issue. I have talked to and dealt with enough of my colleagues at the University to know:
1. they are very smart and dedicated people-educators
2. they are dedicated to the Black Diaspora
3. they can be as swayed by dogma, ideology, rumor and blind belief as an illiterate sorghum farmer
Even though I identify openly and defiantly in the blogosphere as black and female, I do feel that the initial fortifying effect of labels like African American and Mexican American and Korean American, in SOME spheres, are now reaching a stage of ghettoization and contributing to a slowdown of understanding between ethnic groups in the US. Though I am happy to see an African American Authors section in the bookstore, I bristle that the same authors are not in the general fiction or literature sections and feel that it sends the message that that “black stuff” over there is of a completely separate sphere, almost species, than the rest of the fiction/literature, that there is something so essentialist about blackness that white people couldn’t understand even a page of African American literature, as if we process pain, disappointment, love, emotions and needs and survival so differently there is no point in trying to bridge the gap. Yes, there are some differences but they are differences that need to be shared and thereby understood, I think, for any progress to happen. Part of what perpetuates racism (and many –isms) is ignorance, seeing someone else or some other group as Other rather than simply a different hue and texture than your particular square of the human fabric. I bleed and give birth like any other woman alive, present or past. I may get less prenatal care b/c of my race, socioeconomic level or religious belief but I am not somehow extra- or subhuman. I want my differences, I want my full humanity.

I have colleagues I respect and deeply like who would turn cold to me and, unintentionally, unconsciously, block my progress b/c my husband is A White Man, The Enemy. My commitment to the ideals of the University would be called into question. I would be scrutinized and spoken of with somewhat-veiled contempt as I have heard colleagues speak of others with white partners. So my slip to the blogger worries me.

The disadvantage is if this blogging could contribute to my tenure portfolio, perhaps counting as publication, THEN what the fuck do I do? If this is the only publishing I’ve done in the past 3 years or more…sometimes your needs bite you in the ass.

What would happen if an administrator at my college discovered my blog?
It is entirely possible not a thing would happen publicly. I might find myself left out of things. Or suddenly not have my contract renewed. The University still hasn’t worked out its transparency and fairness kinks.

Do you use a pseudonym out of fear?
Hell fucking yes. Not b/c I am afraid or ashamed of my opinions or fear offending someone, not b/c I think what I do here is obscene or of shoddy quality (I try to get all the typos out) but…I do not feel safe in my work environment. There are too many variables, too little faculty power, too much administrative opaqueness and randomness. If it weren’t for that job, yeah, I’d reveal my real name somewhere along the line. But I need the money from that job. That said, I may not have the job past July anyway…..

What is the biggest drawback to writing pseudonymously?
Drawback? I’d have more identities if I had time.

Has your blog allowed you to experiment with writing?
Yes. I am less “structured,” more spontaneous than I am in anything else. I hope it transfers to my other writings.

Why do you use a pseudonym?
To hide, to make an initial statement/impression, to signify, to screen readers. With the combination of “bitch,” “g” and “spot,” not everyone who stumbles along will stay. I use “bitch” in honor of 2 of my first favorite bloggers, Bitch Ph.D. and Angry Black Bitch and to counter (for myself as much as anyone else) the desire to be a “good” girl, to be nice, nurturing, comforting, encouraging, considerate, temperate. It is still a world in which an honest, open, brash woman is a bitch. Also, in high school, I quickly learned that when a boy called you a bitch, it meant you weren’t doing what he wanted and the word was meant to shame you into submission or silence or ceding him the spotlight. “Bitch” meant you were acting like a full human rather than Other.

Whew! Do I need to write anymore? Did I leave anything out?

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Blogger brownfemipower said...

this is so good--you really detail the positives, the negatives, everything. I'm just not sure what the hell the answer is.
the thing I noticed through all of your post is silence is protection. and whether it is protection from job loss or protection from violence (In the case of other women) i think that is the greatest benefit the internet has to offer women of color--we can get our voices out with some amount of protection.

Mon Mar 06, 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger brownfemipower said...

ps, but most importantly, tho, i think is that by coming out we can organize--and it is like you said, the sweet with the sour--if you don't come out, currently, there really isn't much that you can do to organize with other of your group--

Mon Mar 06, 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

yes--perhaps more than "silence" as is a mirror turned backwards--we look deeply at ourselves as we show only the halo of that, not the core, not the true face, to the world.

Mon Mar 06, 09:31:00 PM  

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