Origins, Approaches, and Ongoing Life

This blog is celebrating its first anniversary! Running this blog has been both fun and frustrating. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done and the community we’ve built together… even if the comments are still on major lockdown. (Thanks, MRAs!) Today, Angry Feminist Killjoy won the English Department’s Outstanding Writing Award in Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy. First place!! That’s crazy and exciting and I’m so grateful to all the incredible women in my graduate program, family, and larger life who helped build this. Here are a few reflective thoughts about, as Dr. Sue Doe would say, the origins, approaches, and ongoing life of Angry Feminist Killjoy.

When I was trying to conceptualize my final project for Autoethnography, I was struggling to strike upon where I really fit in, where I had Complete Member Researcher status. I felt myself caught in a lot of liminal stages. For instance, I was a graduate student but I was (at the time) 22. I was an ‘academic’ but I was first-generation. I approached my schoolwork with a no-nonsense kind of seriousness, but I had a heart for comedy. I was a feminist but didn’t fit into any of the accepted waves. The connection may not seem immediately clear, but Angry Feminist Killjoy emerged from all of those liminal stages I felt myself inhabiting.

I wanted to write about feminism in the way that I was experiencing it— a kind of Millennial Feminism, if you will. (I don’t know if that’s a real term; maybe I should copyright it.) I wanted to find a way to translate my academic, theory-based knowledge into something that was accessible and meaningful people who aren’t given the opportunity to pursue higher ed. (ie: If I can’t take this home and make it meaningful to my family, what’s the point?) I didn’t want to produce alienating work, but I wanted to produce important work. The blog then, felt perfect. This outlet suited my in-between identities. It is freely accessible, uses technology to reach an audience outside of the Academy, speaks to the experiences of young feminists, and gave me the space to combine academics and comedy. I could use humor and satire to talk about social justice issues. By bringing a comedic voice to Foucault and Bourdieu, I was able to make academic theory relevant beyond academics. That was really important to me.

As for my experiences with the blog… it grew into something so much bigger than a final project. Almost immediately my posts began circulating around the web in really wonderful and truly awful ways. The worst parts are when Men’s Rights Activists pick up my blog and start harassing and abusing me. It’s exhausting and disheartening to know that so much vitriolic stupidity exists in the world. But then, every single time a make a post, I’ll find at least one message that makes it all worth it. Sometimes there are debates and we both learn to reach a middle ground. Sometimes it’s a thank-you for publishing these experiences, for starting a discussion. I hear stories from people who have experienced the kinds of abuses and harms I write about, and the messages almost always say, “I thought it was only me. I thought I was alone in this.”

Doing this kind of work can be emotionally draining. It’s hard to write about the many ways our world is constructed to enact violence against us. It’s hard to hear from people who both agree and disagree with my posts. I’ve taken a months-long hiatus more than once, just to keep myself sane. I certainly don’t think I’m changing the world with my little blog, but I know that I’m able to start conversations, the kinds that we don’t have often enough. And when starting those conversations makes folks feel less alone in the world, lets them know that there are people out here who will love and support them… that’s why I always come back from hiatus. (Also, someone once contacted me about my blog and referred to me as “a feminist thought-leader.” That really frosted my cookies.)

And that’s where we are now! As I wrap up my graduate education (!!!) and head on to new things, I’m looking forward to continuing our conversations here. There are some fun things in the works. If my Girl Gang and I can ever manage to organize, there will even be some Live Action Feminist Fun coming your way. So stick around, my angry feminist killjoy friends. There’s still a whole patriarchy to deconstruct.