The lost art of changing your mind

30 Aug

It’s been an interesting 48 hours in the Palazzo del Polo Shirt. As part of my ongoing assistance with the 2012 Slutwalk (please join us this Saturday at the Vic Library), I wrote an article outlining my experiences as a child and why it makes Slutwalk so personally important.

Normally, I loathe the personally revealing monologues that masquerade as an article. They rely too heavily on emotion than intellect, almost pressuring people into acceptance instead of thought because a bad thing happened. It’s a hard line to balance but I ended up writing it because I needed to show the effect words have on children, particularly when it comes to sexual assault. I did so without rancor, without spite but to show directly (in the absence of statistics). Also, and I’m not sure if you’ve caught on to this, but I’m not going to challenge either Shakespeare or that 50-Shades-of-Grey-counterfeiting-machine-as-author. I’ll be standing over here with my crayons and tongue poking out.

Publicly, there has been no blowback towards the article. Those who have commented have shown they understand the points raised in the article and have made a distinction between the experience and the people involved (i.e. no ill will was directed to the people by either myself or the people who read the article). As a writer, that’s an amazing and nearly unheard of result.

It’s interesting to me as I am normally used to a bit of abuse whether it’s a supposedly kindly observation I only get commissioned due to my youth and looks (no really, someone once said that), that I’m a smug and pompous elitist idiot acting as a vanguard for conformity, that they would remove my daughter from my care because I was a grossly negligent mother, to ending contact to that person who really enjoys regularly contacting me across social platforms and my various email accounts to let me know in forensic detail what they think of me and everything they’ve been able to research. You know what I said about the crayons earlier? Those people are onto it. I’m used to negative feedback.

But in my 17 odd years on the Internet. I’ve generally observed that people dislike changing their opinion. In fact, it’s a rare day when someone says “that’s made me change my mind” or “that’s an interesting point of view”. The media mock people for changing their mind and conclusions are, apparently, one way streets.

So, it was really quite heartening to receive some blog support from two women that I admire, Jane Shaw and Drag0nista. Jane wrote about why she will attend Slutwalk despite her dislike for the word and Drag0nista wrote about how she had changed her mind about Slutwalk. Validation in any form is nice but this felt different because two people did something that I find brave: they changed their minds. In a time where changing your mind is characterised as “backflipping” or “flipflopping” or some other negative but impressive physically co-ordinated feat, that is a truly impressive action.

Which brings me to the use of the word brave. I hate that people have called my piece brave. There are far better examples of bravery. I’m not brave for being assaulted, I’m not brave for writing about it and I’m not brave for making an idiot out of myself in public. As I mentioned to a friend yesterday, I think my readership numbers haven’t moved past a few rescue greyhounds and empty carton of Bonsoy. One day I’ll scale up to a few rescue greyhounds, empty carton of Bonsoy and possibly even a human – but I can say that because I’m an impossible dreamer. There’s nothing brave in what I did in front of so few – I admitted no guilt, no change of mind, no redemption.

But Jane and Ms D did. Sometimes changing our minds and admitting it is an incredibly brave act and I adore them for it.

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