Just over a month ago, I took a workshop with the Op-Ed Project and it changed my life.
The Op-Ed Project is an initiative to encourage and support women’s voices in the op-ed pages, a place where they are significantly underrepresented. Today, around 80-85 percent of op-eds are written by men, but men are also writing and submitting op-eds at a much higher frequency than women. The Project trains, encourages, and supports women, connecting them with mentor-editors and helping them make their voices heard.
The seminar itself was engaging and inspiring, even though I still wasn’t quite confident I had what it takes at the end. We learned to recognize and tout our expertise in different subjects, even if our credentials weren’t the kind you might expect.
Then, a week later, the FBI captured Whitey Bulger. Now, I had studied Bulger in graduate school while researching Irish American identity in South Boston. I instantly thought, “I am an expert.” So I wrote an op-ed draft and submitted it to the Project’s mentor-editor program. I was matched with a wonderful mentor-editor who helped me spruce up my piece and pitch it to newspapers and online publications. It was published on AlterNet.org.
With my taste of success, I immediately started on a second piece about abortion rhetoric and the use of the slavery analogy – a hot topic considering the racially-based anti-abortion propaganda cropping up all over the place. I submitted my draft to the mentor-editor program and was matched with… drum roll please… a senior editor at Ms. Magazine.
Yes. Ms. Fucking Magazine.
My piece was published on the Ms. blog.
Then I was inspired to write about the teen domestic violence case and murder of Lauren Astley and submitted it to Ms., hoping that lighting would strike twice.
Then I came across the most sexist and offensive ad campaign (for MILK of all things) I have seen in a long time and wrote about that. Ms. created a Change.org petition to end the campaign and attached it to my post. And things just sort of exploded. Like, Boston.com linked to my post in their article about the dubious health claims behind the campaign. And my post got shared on Facebook 316 TIMES and got OVER ONE THOUSAND Stumbleupons or whatever you call them. And reactions and praise and positive feedback from friends, family, classmates, and professors has all felt pretty damn good.
(Be on the lookout for my follow-up post this weekend.)
In two short weeks, I became a regular blogger for Ms. Magazine, the holy grail of feminist publications. As some of you may or may not know, blogging for a reputable and recognized publication has been a dream of mine for a long time. And somehow, it seems to have come true.
I didn’t win an Academy Award, but I would still like to thank the Op-Ed Project, Ms., and everyone here who read Not a Dirty Word (now Talkin’ Reckless) and gave me so much feedback and encouragement in the past couple years. I’m still not exactly sure where I’m headed with my writing or my career, but I feel like I’m finally on the path that will get me there. I can’t wait to see what happens next.