The modus operandi of my blogging for the last year has largely been to add to the critical voices amassing around various Government and policy decisions in Aotearoa (and sometimes the UK and Canada), media speak, and corporate actions that have harmful consequences for those vulnerable to them. More broadly, I am critical of the globalised neoliberal agenda and global capitalism, processes of racism and imperialism, patriarchy, homophobia and transphobia. My viewpoint is multiply informed by being kai loma (mixed race) Fijian/ Tongan/ Pakeha, a second-generation Pacific migrant in Aotearoa, a woman who is also genderqueer, feminist and queer.
Starting afresh in 2014, I’ve been reflecting on what aspects of my blogging practise I want to retain and what I want to change.
I’ve definitely enjoyed being able to respond quickly to emerging issues in New Zealand’s media landscape, and bring a feminist or Pacific migrant angle that might otherwise be absent. I’ve enjoyed the dialogue that has emerged between myself and other Pacific women as a consequence of our online presence. I’ve enjoyed challenging myself to write and then post poetry about social issues, which has meant making some of my emotional world very public.
A challenging aspect of blogging critically in Aotearoa is that you don’t have the same invisibility that I imagine bloggers in other parts of the globe might have. I didn’t anticipate that because people are mostly driven to the blog by readers sharing links on facebook or twitter, it gets read by people who would never intentionally read the blog of a Pacific queer feminist.
As I began anticipating a more “mainstream” readership, I started to write more events-based, shorter blog-posts in an more journalistic style, as opposed to taking risks with my writing by being more poetic/ creative, more self-reflexive, or offering more complexity. The frustrating thing is this process has been good for my blog, but not so good for me as a writer. I’m not really taking myself out of my comfort zone. It reminds me – as Sara Ahmed has discussed in Queer Phenomenology – that social ease is a consequence of accrued privilege, and some of us don’t have lives where we are made to feel comfortable. The public nature of blogging in Aotearoa has meant that I haven’t wanted to feel vulnerable in a site where I could be judged by mainstream New Zealand.
I’ve started to fear the limits of allegiance. That readers who are left-wing and supportive of posts about poverty might not be down with my feminism. Or that Pacific readers who might share posts about Pacific or migrant culture might not be okay with posts about sexuality. And really, this comes back to how I am multiply-situated ALL the time, and I don’t get the privilege of treating ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class as if they are one-dimensional because ALL the time my lens is as a Pacific queer woman.
So this is what I’ve decided. Pakeha middle-class straight men don’t need another writer/ media commentator pandering to them and the things that they may or may not be able to withstand. It’s not helpful for my writing to feel stuck in “explaining” mode. I need it to get more complex and messy and personal in order to be more critically challenging for me. I need to be able to explore issues that run a mile from mainstream but which are rich and thought-provoking in my own life. And for that I need to feel fed and sustained by a critical community of readers and writers who are non-white, queer, and feminist.
So I guess what I’m saying is things are going to change. This might not be the blog you are looking for, and frankly, I’m okay with that. If you feel like sticking around, you can expect more poetry, more complexity, and lots more queerness. Imagine that evening has fallen and I’ve lit a few candles. There are less people but we can pull our seats closer. Everything is in shadow and more beautiful.