Melody had invited us to stay with her in Tulsa a few weeks ago, finding out about our project through a post on Feministing. She was raised in Colorado Springs in a traditionally Christian household and is a senior at Tulsa University. Melody, 21, invites her friend Mana to the interview, a graduate of TU who “fell in love with Tulsa when I realized I could do a lot of good here.” Mana, 24 (right), was born in Oklahoma after her parents paid a smuggler to bring them over from Iran. Both women identify as feminists. Mana came to feminism “through a natural progression of being socially conscious.” She jokes that her “heart bleeds for everybody,” telling us that people furrow their brows at the fact that she, a straight woman, works at a LBGT non-profit. “Justice issues are all kind of the same—everyone deserves access to resources.”
Melody (below) possesses an intensity that is countered only by her delicate brown ringlets, porcelain skin and glassy green eyes. In her most serious yet understated tone she tells, “I know this sounds religious, but feminism saved my life.” We both crane forward for the story. “I was in this abusive relationship, and everyone around me was telling me to get out of it. But I was in denial for so long, really isolated…then I started reading stuff about feminism and looking at blogs and livejournals.” Mana murmurs from the couch, “God bless the internet.” Melody says that if it were the seventies and her only option was to go to a “consciousness-raising group,” she would have never made it, but that the internet made her realize, “I was not alone…but plugged into something larger.” She even discovered as she was coming to terms with her abusive relationship that her mother was contemplating her own divorce. “She had a strict, controlling husband, and was a stay-at-home mom for 11 years because it was the good, Christian thing to do…but she made it clear to me that she had regrets and didn’t want the same thing to happen to me.”
Both girls agree that the blogosphere is where feminism really thrives, a place where, as Mana puts it, “the words are more important than the faces.” In states like Oklahoma and Colorado, where feminists are few and far between, online communities allow these ideas to exist in a place where they can’t physically live. Something clicks in Emma and me. At the start of GIRLdrive, the whole blog thing mystified us. We never thought of ourselves as the “blogger” types—we barely knew what a blog was. Even up until now, we loved the responses and were touched by our devoted readers, but still didn’t quite get it.
It now hit us that our initial ignorance about blogs had nothing to do with personal preference—we just had always had those ideas at our fingertips. We needed only to look as far as our own livingrooms to find bookshelves crammed with feminist literature, only as far as our teeming metropolis of New York City to find strong, supported women. Technology, our prime source of angst by the end of our Southwest stretch, suddenly seemed vital to feminism's future, and the only hope for revising the narrow, inaccessible label it constantly drags around.