Wherein I Define Myself (At Length)

I tend to resist labelling myself. I don’t align with any one particular political agenda, I don’t ascribe to any economic theories, and I can be accused of incertitude when it comes to a myriad of issues: the legalization of marijuana, the decriminalization of prostitution, the ban on smoking in public places, the difference between strippers and burlesque performers, the importance of Valentine’s Day to a relationship, etc., etc., etc.

There are, however, a few labels for which I make exceptions, because I feel particularly passionate about them:

* I AM an atheist

This is, arguably, the least important label I attach to myself. I do not believe in any deities, I do not believe in divine intervention, I do not believe in an intelligent creator, and I do not accept the stories of religious texts or legends as historical fact. If you are interested in discussing the reasons why I feel this way, I would be most happy to participate in that dialogue. I was incredibly divested in this aspect of my personality a few years ago, when it was introduced to me by my the man who would become my husband, and I discovered that several people in my life were also atheists, but had never thought to talk about it with me. I was enamored with defining myself as an Atheist, because it meant forging a connection with two people whom I loved dearly, and engaging in some of the most stimulating conversation I’d ever had. But, years down the road, I do not consider my lack of religion a particularly substantial part of the morass that composes “ME”. This blog will discuss atheism from time-to-time, but believe me when I say that if you never trouble yourself again with my thoughts on the matter, I will hardly take offense.

* I AM a skeptic

I try to never take anything for granted, whether it is a fact presented by an authority, a statistic, or a statement made by a friend. This is not to say that I am never swayed by emotion, never succumb to an argument made by the irrational yet charismatic, never put my trust in someone who later turns out to be wrong. I am human, and as many others do, I connect with other humans on an emotional level as well as an intellectual level. But I try not to accept as fact that which cannot be verified through personal experience, or the scientific method.

Does this get complicated? You better believe it. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy. By which I mean, there are absolutely questions I ask myself which cannot be answered scientifically. That’s okay, by my standards, because often those are the questions that teach me the most about myself and the world I live in. I think, though, that like many skeptics I find myself with fewer convictions the more questions I ask. And while this is undoubtedly messy, I also think it’s beautiful.

* I AM a feminist

I shied away from describing myself as a feminist for a while, and for all the wrong reasons. Here are my truths:

  • I see in the world around me evidence of a system: race- and class-biased patriarchy
  • I believe it is in the best interests of all humanity, and especially women, to draw attention to this system and attempt to subvert, disrupt, and otherwise destroy it
  • I approach feminism from a position of incredible privilege. I say this with both humility and immense gratitude:
    • I was raised for several years by a single father who is an incredible role model with what I consider to be an open mind and progressive politics.
    • If we were ever poor when I grew up, I did not know about it. Now that my parents are both financially successful, they are very generous and I have never wanted for anything.
    • I am Caucasian – both sides of my family originated in the British Isles and I am a second-generation Canadian. I have never been the subject or target of any kind of racial discrimination.
    • Although I am a woman, I have never experienced discrimination based on my sex or my gender.
    • I was raised in a relatively large town, attended excellent public schools, and was fortunate enough to matriculate from a well-known university. Although I paid my own way through university, I was allowed to live at home for free, and I have never struggled financially.
    • I have never been the victim of domestic or sexual abuse

What does this all mean? Well, it means that I am perhaps one of the women who has the least “at stake” in the success of the feminist movement. Women like me – white, financially stable, privileged women – tend to be treated well by society and by the media. This is not to say that I cannot be a part of the movement, or that I don’t have a vested interest in its success. It is only to say that there are others whose voices are more important, and whose stories are more powerful than mine. It is to say that I must, to the best of my ability, be aware of the bias my privilege offers me when I discuss the issues that I am passionate about.

* I AM a writer

I am a writer by profession, and I’m thankful every day that I get paid to do something I enjoy.

I am a writer by design. I have worked long and hard to develop this skill, and I am proud of my ability to express myself thus.

I write because I can. I write because it’s what I’m good at, because it soothes me, because it helps me to organize my thoughts and my feelings, because it helps me navigate the world in which I live. I choose writing over all other forms of communication, and it is only when writing that I never worry if my words will be inadequate, ineffective, or weak.

And so this thing called a blog is happening.

I’m a new fool at an old game, if you’ll forgive the cliché. I’ve had plans to write this blog for quite some time, but it’s never materialised until now. Mostly I can chalk this up to a lack of motivation, bordering on downright laziness. But I’m discovering that I have too much to say to keep it contained in my head. I want my voice to be heard. I’m not entirely sure why – maybe it’s because I’m lonely and looking for a community, maybe it’s because I’m looking for validation, maybe it’s simply because I, like many before me, would like to leave some imprint of myself behind for others to find.

This blog is personal – whether one or one hundred read it, I’m writing this for myself. I’m looking for a space to examine the world I live in, to make sense of the things around me, to learn about and work my way through issues that challenge me, frighten me, and repel me. I hope that for those who do read, you forgive me any uncertainty, any lack of conviction, and most of all any mistakes. I will try to own up to them.


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