Zelophehad’s Daughters

Confessions of a Conflict-Avoidant Feminist Blogger

Posted by Lynnette

Maybe this can be blamed on my being a middle child (I’m the third of seven). Or maybe it’s just a temperament thing. But whatever the cause, I would describe myself as a pretty conflict-avoidant person. I really like people to get along. Tension and fighting often make me anxious—and if I’m personally involved, they can make me extremely anxious. In such cases I’m prone to feel sick, and often unable to sleep, until things are resolved. I can deal with disagreements, but it’s a lot harder when there are bad feelings involved. I probably worry too much about people being mad at me. 

This isn’t exactly the ideal temperament for a blogger—particularly a blogger who regularly discusses controversial subjects. And I find that I both love and hate blogging. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun, and sometimes it’s just stressful. Given the latter, I’ve frequently questioned why I do it. It’s not as if anyone is someone is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to write about Mormon feminism. I do it entirely of my own volition. And I find that I go through cycles in which I blog a lot, then find it to be too much and take a break, and then do it all over again. I’m not sure that it’s exactly a healthy addiction. The unforgiving nature of the internet doesn’t help; in a live conversation, your words aren’t publicly recorded for all to read. But when you say things online that you later regret, there they are, preserved in virtual space. I can’t go back and look at certain threads without cringing.

I’ve struggled with these issues ever since we started ZD. We launched ourselves into a heated controversy pretty quickly, and I didn’t last very long before deciding to bail out. I was overwhelmed by the vehement critiques were were getting (from both more conservative Mormons, and ex-Mormons), some of which crossed the line into personal attacks. It was enough of a miserable experience that for a while, I would flinch whenever I heard the word “blog.”

But (obviously), I found that I couldn’t stay away forever, and I’ve thought a lot about why that is. And this is one reason why I find it so enticing. There’s a cost for deciding to speak up, in whatever setting. But there’s also a cost to staying silent. This is frequently a dilemma for me in church—when do you decide to say something in response to statements you find troubling, and when do you decide to let it go? I don’t think there are hard-and-fast rules, but rather that it’s a judgment call that you have to make in each particular situation. And in my experience, either way I end up with some regrets. I want to respect that church is a devotional setting, but I also want to have a voice; it wears me down when I feel invisible and unheard. It’s a challenging balance.

Which brings me back to blogging, which I find at times both intoxicating and terrifying. Sometimes I feel like I don’t really know how to do it—but at the same time, I’m not sure I know how to not do it.

 

9 Responses to “Confessions of a Conflict-Avoidant Feminist Blogger”

  1. 1.

    I’m also very conflict-avoidant, often very much to my own detriment. Go along to get along, and find myself increasingly unsatisfied in relationships, work, etc, Further and further away from where I want to be, because I was always yielding to avoid conflict.

    In the beginning, I usually went by the handle “sister blah 2,” and it was a like actors say the costume puts them in character: sister blah 2 was a lot more fearless, outspoken, and opinionated than Cynthia ever was.

    When joining BCC forced me to use my real name (no-handles rule among permas), I went through a period of being more meek again. Having my real name on things made me more cautious and afraid.

    Now I feel like I have better integration between those sides of me. I’m much happier at work after facing some excruciatingly difficult (for me) negotiations where I had to be assertive and demand what I wanted without apology. My relationships are also improving. Well, that’s not entirely true. Some are a lot more conflict-filled than they were before. BUT, in a way I feel better that the conflict is out in the open rather than me just being silently miserable.

  2. 2.

    I guess I should have some kind of summary/thesis statement in that rambling stream of consciousness, and that would be:

    Blogging has been great assertiveness training for me.

  3. 3.

    How could you say all of this, Lynette? Geez! How dare you? Didn’t you even think?! I’m leaving the church because of you!

    Love,
    A conflict-hungry feminist blogger

    (PS: JK. I adore you. Stay strong.)

  4. 4.

    It’s funny how blogging can make my insecurities more acute. In real life I don’t worry much about being dull and boring, but somehow on blogs and on fb when no one or just a few people comment or “like” me I think, Oh gosh! I really am as boring as I thought! It makes me feel narcissistic that I care, and then I feel like I should stay away from the web so I can pretend I don’t care. Ugh.

    But here I am nonetheless. I guess they say writers write because they can’t not; same for bloggers.

  5. 5.

    Cynthia L. is so conflict-avoidant that she decided to head up the meme wars of 2013. :)

  6. 6.

    See how far I’ve come!!

  7. 7.

    TopHat, lol! And Cynthia L, you truly are a shining example for us all. ;) I think blogging has also helped me with being assertive in life generally. It kind of forces you to find your voice.

    Emily U, I know what you mean about blogging bringing out insecurities. I find that, too. Sometimes I’m ridiculously self-conscious. (It can also be an interesting dynamic to blog with your siblings!) But fwiw, I’m glad you comment anyway.

    nat kelly, you conflict-hungry blogger, you! Always stirring up trouble. Next thing I know you’ll be claiming that Troll 2 destroyed your testimony.

  8. 8.

    Oh, I’ll never watch Troll 2. I saw what the FtSotY pamphlet had to say about immoral media!!! My testimony is SAFE!

  9. 9.

    Now, for this cause I know that we are all fraidy-cats, which thing I never had supposed.

    Thanks for this post.

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