To my beloved fellow twerk scholar, twerk enthusiast, or poor soul who randomly stumbled upon this tiny publication and was bored enough to give it a try:
I thank you for stopping by. To be honest with you, I was afraid that because I haven’t updated this blog in such a long time you would have lost interest, assumed that I had abandoned the project all together, or be unable to even find this corner of the blogosphere given the mysterious and precarious ways of the search engines. The Internet is nothing but a popularity contest set in a Wild, Wild West cluttered with codes and pretty (often pornographic) pictures. Most people will only check for you if you’ve got 50,000 Twitter followers and 100,000 unique views a month. So good lookin’ out, my friend. I welcome you to peruse the archives and to stick around for the ride.
2014 was a helluva year, wasn’t it? Every time you turned around there was a new scandalous story to tell about sexual deviance and violence. America’s favorite dad turned out to be a serial rapist. A sixteen year-old girl became famous from a cruel hashtag that made pictures of her lying naked and unconscious after being sexual assaulted viral. Lena Dunham, the queen of white millennial feminism, was accused of molesting her younger sister. The Rolling Stone lost its journalistic clout over a poorly reported rape account on a college campus. A cop charged with raping seven black women was released from prison. A woman broke both of her legs jumping from a third-floor window to escape her rapists who lured her with film opportunities. Perhaps most tragically, nearly 300 Nigerian women and girls were kidnapped, raped, married off and forced into terrorist acts by their own men.
I haven’t even gotten around to the fun, fluffy stuff yet, like Nicki’s “Anaconda” cover art or that ridiculous Kim K photo shoot for Paper Magazine. Last year was a year with amazing material for my book topic surrounding sexual politics for millennials, and I loved living through every minute of it. I’m just sad I didn’t have enough time to write about it here on Gazmn.
That is not to say that I was sleeping on my book project, “Poles, Power and the Everyday Woman.” In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. As conversations about feminist theory, sexuality and sexual violence in pop culture became more and more mainstream, I spent more time writing and experimenting with the strip club chic through more strip club outings, private blog posts and ongoing, intimate conversations with my closest mentors. I found myself doing, seeing and hearing things I’d never conceived of before. As a result, the entire organization and intent of the book has dramatically changed from its original concept. Some of it became so intense that I became fearful of relaying my experiences to a public audience. I needed time, space, and privacy to process everything that was happening.
So I grew insular and secretive. I moved out of my mother’s house and into an apartment in Brooklyn because I couldn’t stand being accountable to anyone anymore, even though it didn’t make much financial sense to do so. I stopped regularly updating my social media pages, despite that I constantly checked my accounts to see the latest news stories, memes and hashtags. I made fewer phone calls and appointments with friends. The few times I did see my friends and family, I avoided talking about PPEW as much as I could so I wouldn’t have to explain all the things I knew and didn’t know about the future of the project. My mind became constipated with varying versions of what the final product is supposed to look like and old memories and conversations I’ve had with people in the sex work industry.
I’ve already been working on this book for 713 days, but I feel more hyper-stimulated than ever.
Even though I’ve never been so sure of wanting something in my life, I say all of these things about writing my book from a place of immense self-doubt. It’s weird being here because I’ve never been a particularly insecure person. Life has always given me something to do, something to strive for, a long list of privileges and a wide net of friends and family members that loved me enough to support my most outlandish and quixotic ideas. Not many people told me “no” in my quests to follow my dreams growing up. Ironically, that just might be my problem.
Writing the book that serves as the inspiration behind this blog has been hard because it’s the first thing I’ve ever truly had to fight for. It’s a fight to make time for writing a book when there’s only 24 hours in a day and 18 of those hours are eaten up by a day job, tedious subway commutes, date nights, family nights, laundromat trips, yoga classes, pole dancing classes, cooking sessions, doctors’ appointments and all of the unexpected episodes that life brings us each day. Furthermore, writing about sex is difficult for many reasons, one of them being that it’s an emotionally, mentally and physically draining topic. Due to the nature of this work, everything is a direct implication of my likes and dislikes, my comforts, my torments. I’ve found that it’s almost impossible to maintain any real sense of privacy when being transparent with readers like you is a core part of this project.
It also saddens me to know that the stresses of life, the distractions of social media and other blogs as well as the pressure that I put on myself to produce something masterful and revolutionary every time I sit down to write has made it writing itself one of the hardest things for me to do. A practice that used to be so natural—a source of relief and rejuvenation—has quickly turned into something that often feels like a chore. That is not a complaint. Writing is necessary, healthy. It brings me joy to review what I’ve accomplished when I’m done. Yet it’s also an extremely grueling process. Picking and choosing each word, piecing together stories and ideas for other people to consume and comprehend, fighting feelings of self-doubt around the validity of my own narratives—they are all things that I struggle with everyday. More than that, subduing the idea that the blog post I wrote today won’t be as good as the one I wrote yesterday, last week, or seven months ago has proven to be an uphill battle.
I am unlike any other black female blogger out there. Yet, I am just like every other black female blogger out there.
Why should anyone read my work, much less give me a book deal or a cushy editing job when there are so many other people chasing after the same thing whom are either just as good—or even better—at this shit than I am?
Despite my mounting insecurities, I find myself back at my laptop or scribbling on a notepad each day in the hopes that the incremental contributions I make to this book project will eventually blossom into something greater and more meaningful than any of my fears, something that I can be proud of, something that will lead to better things and something that other people can enjoy, critique, contribute to and learn from.
So here is the agreement I made with myself. For 2015, I resolved to make this my most prolific year as a writer yet. This is a period in which I will keep building on the book itself, while continuing to collect and muse on stories from pop culture that are relevant to the project’s premise here on Gazmn. The book is something that I’ll more or less have to figure out in my own world. Gazmn, however, is my public, digital space to engage with the world’s events rather than just watch them go by. This is my space to build new friendships (and perhaps rivalries) online with you and other intellectuals and sex/hip hop enthusiasts that I would have never interacted with in my everyday life. But ultimately, this is a space for me to say whatever the fuck I please and just have fun. Life is short and writing books are hard; a budding author needs something to help her not take herself too seriously.
Pray for me as I try to make this all work; the odds are in fact stacked against me. In any case, I think I’m stubborn and talented enough to succeed in my goals. Making it to the finish line has a lot less to do with how hard this is going to be and more with how necessary it is for me to finish what that I started. I’m going to let this George Orwell quote close this blog post for me.
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
Let the church say it.
Peace, love and chicken grease.