You might recall that time when I proposed to curate a magazine we'd all been dying to read: 'The Vag Box'. It was to be a digital editorial that took submissions from those of us who wanted to read broad and honest perspectives on life from regular people, without the bullshit that prevails in a lot of popular modern publications - the what to wear, how to think, what to eat, being told who to be bullshit.
The challenge was set: help me to build this magazine we wanted to read. I waited for your keenly promised submissions that never came and, you know what, I didn't push for them. I wanted to see how much we all really meant it (and I'm not saying we didn't mean it) but the submissions never came. Not one. Painfully proving a point that if you really do want something done, you actually have to do it. Each and every one of us.
I rued over this a while, considering whether I really had the time to dedicate to the cause by myself. To go it alone. Fanciful, wishful thinking. If any of you have a blog or editorial site, you will know that it takes a fuck heap of work and applied effort. And a bunch of criticism. Once you open your thoughts, you invite the world back in, which can sound negative and scary but, in fact, it's wonderful. Praise or criticism both equally have the power to provide context, validation, and, often, perspectives that are equally as important as the one you started with. Even trolls serve to illustrate or emphasise a point.
To anyone who has criticised bloggers (or 'influencers' as they're so often called now), regardless of whether you like their material or not - or you think that their work is, as one put it, 'a staggering monument to oneself' - the fact remains that it takes a dedicated and committed decision to see it through; it can be all-consuming.
Just writing one damn article as if you truly meant it, can take hours, or even days. And I'm not even convinced that blogging is 'self-obsessed': isn't any form of expression as such? Art, music, literature, pictures of what you had for brunch.. any output comes from a singular perspective, seeking (at the very least) another, even if it is to call the creator's intentions into question.
I've often wondered over the years about the degree of misogyny towards bloggers who were, to begin with, mostly female. Yes, every blog has the potential to not be your cup of tea (depending on the eye of the beholder) but, if you had been oppressed for centuries, you too would be off your tits upon discovering a platform that has gone on to truly advance the liberation of women - providing a place for community, solidarity, and an emphasised freedom of expression to (almost) the far flung corners of the world. It didn't really matter what they were about. It mattered that they were there.
The digital revolution has given the stay-at-home mum a crucial comms network and job opportunities they never had before. It has helped to make visible staggering injustices - whether racial, sexist, or outright exploitative - and incited major and important political shifts, one after the other. It has transformed lives, relative to each person who has put their voice out there and so whether that's a blog about food that has helped a woman to become a chef, or female genital mutilation, every single one counts. Even the terrible, terrible ones. Their purpose serving to add context or call into question what's happening in our media, and in societies at large.
However, as the digital world advances, we see more and more contributions from social minorities. It's not just misogyny in isolation. We see our countries, our governments, and our own opinions challenged, shaped, given perspective, changed and it's moving faster and faster.
So, while you might find many offensive or downright dull to read, you don't have to drown in the millions of voices that have piped up. You just have to find the voices that speak to you, that touch you, and that make you truly want to action change, contributing as much as you can afford - be it an article, a thought, a pledge, a signature, a share. You've been given a voice to be heard, so why be afraid to use it? Why challenge or criticise those that choose to do so? Every perspective counts.
In this particular case, I'm afraid I won't be writing the Vag Box. I will be supporting and contributing to LYRA Magazine* however, which will be a quarterly print publication that focuses on critical discussions of society, politics, and the arts through perspectives that are cross-generational and cross-gender; inclusive perspectives. Perhaps one day I will curate my own editorial venture, or do more for what I believe in but, for now, every action counts, and every perspective matters.
What's your perspective?
*If LYRA sounds like your kind of thing, you can check out their Kickstarter and take action to make it happen by sharing or, crucially, backing it with your own pennies.