Writing Should Be a Safe Place

For everyone, but for women especially

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Before I started to write and publish, I was journaling, freewriting, rambling — for the bin or the drawer. I spent decades hiding my writing from anyone, only a select few knew me for writing poetry or short stories. No one knew about my dream of writing a book, or books really, of wanting to express myself.

Then it changed overnight. From not publishing anything I jumped off the cliff of being cosy and safe, into an abyss of a whole new world I had only dreamt about and never could imagine.

I started to write about trauma and abuse and my sexuality, I opened up my most vulnerable parts for the whole world to see.

And it was exceptionally liberating. It was still my safe place for a self-paced therapy, a way to heal myself with words, an opportunity to know that I am not alone. I connected with fellow writers who went through the same things, or worse.

Women who were abused just like me, who were raped, and assaulted, who were ridiculed and doubted. Women who stayed for too long because they didn’t know how to leave. Women who went through miscarriages and abortion. Women and men who talked openly about their mental health issues, depression and anxiety.

And I felt seen and heard and understood.

And I was in awe, shaking my head in disbelief, why haven’t I done it before? What held me back? I should have started to write ages ago.

Then it started… the world seeped in…

And it hit me really hard.

I was standing by enraged as female writers were put down for writing sensitive topics, for allegedly capitalising on their sob stories, for making easy money on personal essays and spamming readers with their vulnerability.

I was brought to tears when I was slut-shamed and trolled in a comment, and no matter how much I wanted to be the bigger person and it’s only words — the words hurt me and triggered me, regretting my honesty immediately.

I was shocked to see how other women got trolled and dissected by men and women — for their opinions and personal choices that they didn’t hurt anyone with.

I am disgusted to see how women (including myself) were plagiarised, have their works copied in the cheekiest way possible — the sole reason for it because they could get away with it.

I am disappointed to see how talented and smart women don’t make the homepage as much as talented and smart men. How productivity hacks never come from productivity expert parents who juggle with jobs, vocation and a couple of kids.

Writing is my safe place. It’s where I retract when something hurts, to process it, deal with it, move past it and heal from it.

I also write because in most cases there is nothing else I can do. And I see that is quite common for other women too.

We can’t do anything but write about sexual assault and rape, because in lots of cases it takes years to recognise that we were assaulted. Because once we admit it and we are triggered again, it’s too late to find closure any other way.

We can only write about everything that happened to us, as we don’t report it, we can’t get justice, because abuse victims are dragged through the mud all over again, they are ridiculed and doubted and questioned. We choose to write about it in our safe place where no one asks what were we wearing, did we consume alcohol and where we don’t need to defend ourselves and proving we weren’t asking for it.

We only write about and don’t report our supervisors who assault us at work, because we don’t want to lose our jobs, or seem to be the girl who is not cool enough or become the one whose professional credibility is questioned.

We can’t do anything but write about the difficulties of being a single mum, because even if becoming single by choice will be used against us, as if we weren’t able to make good decisions about our relationships or our bodies.

We can’t do anything but write about how difficult it is to be a parent, even if we have our partners helping us, as parenthood should be filled with joy and laughter, not with depression and anxiety.

We can only write about our mental health, because we are way past the phase of looking for help, asking for it, accepting it and working on ourselves to get better, yet we still get stigmatised if it causes a nuisance in society.

We can only write about our rights to deciding about our own sexuality, including our chosen sexual orientation, our sexual preferences, who we choose to love, how we choose to select our sexual partners — both the number and the gender of them, because we still get society, communities, religions and trolls telling us how we should live and love.

We can’t do anything but write about our rights to our own bodies, to our vaginas and hymens — writing it and shouting it from rooftops how no one else should decide whether we can have an abortion, how we can choose to fuck whoever we want and how inspecting hymens and virginity shouldn’t be allowed.

We can only rage and seethe when someone steals our ideas and copies our work, mimicking our knowledge, experience and hard work put into it — as we shouldn’t seem hysterical, shouldn’t make waves, shouldn’t act up. And if we do we might find ourselves in a position that it’s us having to prove our innocence.

So, we write.

We write and we open our souls, we open up about traumas and wrongdoings, we tell others about red flags, we tell our stories to heal and to help others heal too.

Writing is a safe place, where no one should hurt us and question our credibility, sanity or willingness to grow.

Writing… should be our safe place.

Don’t try to take it away. Don’t try to silence us. Don’t try to ridicule us or make us believe that personal essays, vulnerability and honesty is spamming or monetising our sob stories.

Don’t try to copy us and rob us from the only tool we have left to heal, to seek justice with, to make others belong, to express ourselves, to make ourselves heard and seen.

The good thing about writing online is that readers have the choice of whether they want to read or want to leave. It’s entirely up to the reader to stay, to read, to get involved — or not.

I am eternally thankful for the protective power of the writing communities that shields me and cares about me. I am forever grateful that they give me an extension of my safe place to rant and vent and cry and celebrate. To create.

Let’s extend this, let’s spread the word about the power of writing, about all the badass men and women who would do anything to fight injustice and to promote equality.

Let’s make social platforms safe too. Safe from hurt and harm.

Let’s protect each other, so we can write freely whatever we want, to help others and to heal ourselves.

Let’s not be the silent bystanders who let injustice pass. We have a powerful voice. We can get heard.

If you liked this and want some more, follow me on Twitter or IG and sign up for my newsletter.

Writer. Dreamer. Hopeless romantic. Newsletter: zita.substack.com Email me: zitafontaine (at) gmail

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