Formerly Apostate

To my readers

Posted in Uncategorized by formerlyapostate on August 2, 2009

I used to blog as The Apostate, at The other day, I made my blog “private” but I have effectively deleted the  blog. I had a wonderful and sizeable readership for a small and personal blog, and I feel bad about not being able to leave up something like a last post, hence this.

Basically, I wanted to publicly state my reasons to end the blog, both so I don’t have to answer individual emails from concerned readers and so I don’t leave people hanging, without explanation. I hate it when blogs I like suddenly fall off the face of the earth. Blogs are community concerns and some degree of closure is a good thing, for my sake and for the sake of dedicated long-term readers.

I have been thinking about a fundamental change in my blogging persona for some time now. Put simply, I am no longer “The Apostate.” I am primarily a leftist American feminist, in the process of becoming a lawyer, at which point I will hopefully be melding my personal and professional identities to a much greater extent than has been the case in the past. The Apostate identity will forever be a part of me, but for some time now, it hasn’t held that attraction for me that it did when I first started blogging. I am happy that I got to work out those ex-Muslim demons, and perhaps some day I will put all that writing to good use. But it is really another life now.

Mine was an intensely personal blog. There is a benefit and a cost to having so many personal details about you floating out there on the interwebs.  On the plus side, it makes for compelling reading if well done. But one also makes oneself vulnerable in unpleasant ways, especially as my blog wasn’t merely personal: it espoused many unpopular political positions, particularly feminism. There are far too many people who want to see you destroyed if you are a feminist. It sounds like hyperbole, but honestly? I didn’t much fear harm from (famously bloodthirsty) Muslims, but right wing assholes made me seriously nervous. Some of them “stalked” me, relentlessly attacking me even if I refused to engage or respond. It’s easy to say “ignore them,” but that sort of right wing hate speech is wearying and takes its toll. The mix of inviting enmity while at the same time writing with such openness (about my opinions and about my personal life) was  potentially explosive and of late, with my readership becoming significant, has been causing issues that could spiral out of my control. Of course, silencing me was the purpose of some of the harassment, but since I have other reasons to stop, I can’t continue writing just to spite them.

Still and all, it is a relief to not let assholes into my life via something that I did chiefly for my own pleasure. My writing was meant mostly for myself and increasingly, it was not fulfilling that main objective. The assholes were taking up too much energy, especially as I did let it bother me when they criticized me for not publishing their comment telling me I was a crazy bitch feminist who was PMS’ing all over the internet.

Finally, I’m on the verge of starting law school. I don’t need to go into the professional implications of writing the way I do, especially as I did it so publicly. The law is a conservative profession and I have a big and unconventional mouth. Merely being an atheist could get me into trouble, but also my penchant for trouble-making truth-telling. My blog persona is very different from any professional persona I would wield, and in a fair world, the two would have nothing to do with each other. But employers are increasingly not content with exercising their power over our professional lives; they want to turn us into good corporate citizens even in our private lives. It’s either comply or starve. I don’t want to starve.

This doesn’t mean I’ve been silenced for good, of course. I intend to continue to write and might start another blog under a different name and if I do, I will let my trusted regular readers know (I have your email addresses, for the most part, unless you never commented, in which case you’re shit out of luck).

I do not wish to blog privately, or for “friends only.” Part of the pleasure of blogging is doing it publicly – otherwise, it loses its main charm as a vehicle of real-time communication and discussion between readers and authors. One of the funnest things was gaining new readers for whom things I wrote meant something. Without that influx of new readers, I could see myself losing motivation or becoming stagnant.  Even though I wrote for myself, having an intelligent audience was crucial to my writing process. I have a difficult time becoming inspired if I cannot hold an audience in my head.

I am sad. Ending a blog is like ending a relationship. Even if there are good reasons to move on, it is always a difficult transition. I had many good reasons to continue the relationship: I had many wonderful readers whom I felt close to. I loved having my writing appreciated by so many. I liked the process of blogging: thinking out loud, refining my ideas, changing my mind when readers pointed out that I was full of shit, and being a part of the serious-amateur blogging community (which is an inspiring band of people). I wouldn’t have found my best friend if it wasn’t for the blog. “The Apostate” felt like an institution – a minor one, but there was a definite identity there.  And lastly, I did strongly feel that I was covering a niche that is otherwise neglected: there aren’t many former Muslim feminists who are on the left of American politics. There aren’t many people criticizing Islam from the left who do not have ulterior racist motivations. And it’s a pity that this niche will lose my voice just as it was gaining prominence. But I must blog for myself and not out of a sense of duty. It’s a thankless task if you do it for any reason other than enjoyment of it.

I will miss it. But realistically, it was time to move on. And realistically, I will likely benefit academically from not having blogular distraction.

Thanks for walking with me in my journey. I will miss you.


30 Responses

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  1. thepoliticalcat said, on August 2, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    It was good while it lasted, but you’re quite right to do what you’re doing. Hopefully someday you’ll be able to be an out crazy feminist bitch (as the idioterati would label you) without such painful repercussions. OTOH, law school is, currently, more important than locking horns with those not worth your time. Best of luck in all your endeavours.

  2. newsstandman said, on August 2, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Good luck and let me know if you start a new blog. You’re a good writer and I learned some things I had never known. I’m also very glad to have found you when S’ville crashed.

  3. geekgirlsrule said, on August 2, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    You have to do what’s good for you. And while I’ll miss your blog, I know you’ll still be out there, thinking subversive things and being awesome.

    Take care of yourself.

  4. Prairiecat said, on August 2, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    I’m sorry about the deluge of assholes, and I’ll miss your writing. But yeah, law school is quite the brain suck. And I say that as one of the rare people who loved law school.

    Best of luck! I think you’ll kick righteous ass in moot court.

    Prairiecat (formerly Raging Hippie)

  5. Kook said, on August 3, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Its a shame. i only came across your blog very recently and barely got to read a few entries. the big boobs one was funny.

  6. JasminefromPakistan said, on August 3, 2009 at 4:26 am

    I know what it’s like, from Neo Nazis to Islamists, she would have had to fight them all, and she did. But that aside, she delivered to us a message.
    If you’re a girl from a Muslim background, with no understanding of feminism, and apostate taught u from zero- to knowing what u now know- that’s just like receiving a message. Apostate revolutionlized my way of thinking. U think we know about feminism- no, we don’t – we needed apostate.

    Her mission is accomplished
    It is done
    She scattered the seed
    She sowed the dragon’s teeth
    Now we got our ideaology to finally FIGHT BACK against patriarchy

  7. Nenya said, on August 3, 2009 at 4:58 am

    Like Kook, I’d only just discovered your blog, maybe a month ago, and have really enjoyed it. So I do hope that if & when you’ve got a new place up, I can come read over there.

    I definitely understand about how being an ex-something and having a place to talk that all out is extremely important, and also how after a while, it isn’t nearly as much a part of you any more. (The first few years after I left the Christian cult I grew up in, it was almost all I could talk about. Now, “it really is another life.”)

    Absolutely best luck in all your endeavours! Hope to see you on this series o’ ‘tubes.

  8. hellonhairylegs said, on August 3, 2009 at 5:38 am

    We’ll miss you too. I’m sure you’ll make a brilliant lawyer! Good luck 😀

  9. Sungold said, on August 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I understand about the assholes. I moved from Blogger to WordPress to give me more control over blocking them. Blogging while feminist can be hazardous to your mental health.

    I’m really sorry that your archives aren’t staying up. I found them a wonderful resource for understanding one smart, articulate woman’s journey away from Islam. I don’t know of any other collection of writing that tells a similar story. You should eventually do something with it; maybe turn it into a book? (In your spare time – ha!) Whatever you do, please don’t destroy your own copy of it.

    As for the anonymity thing, and maintaining a professional life: I’ve dealt with this by being out to my co-workers and program chair. I don’t write nasty stuff about them (but I do feel mildly constrained when criticizing my university). I’m merely pseudonymous, not anonymous, and I don’t write anything that I’d feel horrified if it were connected to my real name. But pseudonymity keeps my stuff from being easily googled by random students or future employers.

    If you do resume blogging, I hope you’ll let me know.

  10. polarcontrol said, on August 3, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    I’ll miss your writing too, hope you start a new blog some day!

    And good luck with law school. (A friend from the US described her first year in law school as a “year-long panic attack”..)

  11. DG said, on August 4, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Apostate, I’ve been reading your blog for just over a year now. Your writing has enriched my life and completely revolutionized the way I look at the world now. I’m one of those women who was a feminist only in name, and you changed that. Thank you so much.

    I hope you’ll write a book someday because you really do have an amazing gift for words and transferring your innermost thoughts on to paper.

    You’ve been through a lot in your past and I wish for only happiness and success in your future. Best of luck in everything you do.


  12. megankay said, on August 14, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Best of luck in the future! You’ll be missed for sure.

  13. ASP said, on August 16, 2009 at 2:56 am

    Thank you for putting yourself out there. Your voice was/is very important to me as a feminist and woman. But I completely understand your reasons for taking a break. We’re lucky to have you out there for us as women.

  14. sonia said, on August 16, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Apostate, thanks for writing this – I like many others am sad you won’t be writing this blog anymore but heck you got good reasons. Anyway you are going to be one hell of a brilliant lawyer!

    Good luck and all the best.

    Just want you to know you’ve inspired many of us – particularly i think those of us who were feeling quite “scared” in our own journey away from Islam, anyway certainly for me your writing really helped me solidify and recognise what had already been happening for a while, but your passion and refusal to be cowed really helped me decide what the heck it was i was doing.

    you said – There aren’t many people criticizing Islam from the left who do not have ulterior racist motivations. you’re right, there are not that many former Muslim feminists around. Even if one insists one is not right-wing (why should you be just because you criticise the religion you grew up with – ridiculous!) or racist/ or helping the racists, so many people choose to label one accordingly and that i am finding is really HARD and annoying.

    we should be free to critique religion without being labelled right or left…and thank you setting an ‘early’ precedent, which hopefully, will inspire other people to do their own stuff.

  15. Peridot said, on September 6, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Funny, I recently closed up my blog, too. Just got burned out as I move beyond my own blog persona as the “sex worker.” I know what you mean about the assholes, the way some of them stalk and try to find out who and where you are. It’s disturbing how many hateful, bitter, angry men are out there, MANY. The Internet is a good place for them to anonymously tell women what they *really* think of us. Anyway, I’ll miss your writing but am very excited that you’ll be a lawyer someday. We need more women who think like you in positions of power. Thank you for going for it!

  16. Susan said, on September 7, 2009 at 5:02 am

    I’m glad I finally caught up at IBTP! Good luck, and don’t worry about spiting the haters… the best thing you can do to them is become a successful lefty, feminist atheist lawyer.

  17. Aunti Disestablishmentarian said, on September 9, 2009 at 4:37 am

    Your essays would be a very powerful collection should you chose to publish them at some point. Please let us know if you end up writing publicly, and best of luck in school.

  18. MojaveWolf said, on September 13, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Tis sad to see you go, but can’t say I don’t see your point. The pressure to be a “good corporate citizen” aspect distresses me the most, but you’re not wrong.

    On the positive side, you’ll be an amazing lawyer, and here’s wishing you success and happiness in all your endeavors.

  19. Nostromo said, on September 19, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for all and good luck!

  20. Chutney said, on October 8, 2009 at 4:37 am

    I’m so glad I found this post, I have missed your wonderful writing. You will make a fantastic and compassionate lawyer.

  21. beckyws said, on October 13, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Apostate,

    It’s taken me this long to find out what happened to your blog! I went on holiday in August and when I got back it was all blocked, and no idea where you went. Found this post via searching other feminist blogs to see if you were mentioned (it felt oddly personal to me, I worried that you might have had something bad happen); and as it turned out, people had talked about your disappearance and linked to here.

    Thanks for writing this goodbye post to explain things, but even more I echo Deepthi’s comments above. I have felt vastly energised by your essays, and radical feminist viewpoints that come from true experiences. Thank you for being part of my journey, and the very best of luck with your future.
    Please let me know if you do start another blog one day.

    Take care
    Becky W-S

  22. DaisyDeadhead said, on November 8, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Although I know you dislike me, just wanted to say, I miss your unique voice, and you are an excellent writer.

    Right now, I am under sustained attack from the right wing, so I know the feeling. Some are local people who “know” me (but I don’t know them), which is a scary, stalkerish feeling. My response to this is to run for local office, which I will do next year, largely to protect myself with a high profile. (this is SC) Hopefully, when you practice law, you can do the same. Feminist bloggers in many ways are sitting ducks, and I have just figured this out.

    Good luck, and always fight for the people.

    • formerlyapostate said, on November 12, 2009 at 3:49 pm

      For the record, Daisy, it was in part your harassment that fed into my frustration and led to closing the blog. If you recall, you left a particularly nasty comment the day I shut down the blog. I am not saying you were solely responsible, but your mean-spirited and relentless attacks were quite something and did contribute to pushing me over the edge. Considering that I had avoided interacting with you for a while on purpose in hopes that you would stop returning to make your point that I suck and you hate me, this comment is baffling. Truly, I don’t miss the blogosphere – can’t stand this sort of schizophrenic behavior. At least your dislike was honest. I don’t even know what to make of this strange reversal.

      Go, and fare thee well.

      (Everyone else, thanks. It cheers me to hear from familiar readers, so continue to leave comments if you just happened to read this goodbye post.)

  23. DaisyDeadhead said, on November 14, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Formerly Apostate, I thought you had taken your blog private; did not realize this was the same day that you closed it. My apologies. Yes, the dislike was honest, but it has dissipated. Also: it probably helps immeasurably that I have a close ex-Muslim almost-feminist friend now, who has enlightened me about a number of things that likely influenced your perspective.

    As for schizo behavior, I hate to bring it up, but My Deity informed us that I must forgive and be nice and apologize when I am wrong. He didn’t mince words about it, either. (Yes, I know the right wingers have missed that part, but there it is.)

    And so: I apologize. Starting to get a clue who the Real Enemies are. In a “non-place” like the internet, it can be very confusing, esp at my age. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, and all like that (if I may continue Biblical metaphors). People are not who you think they are at all.

    And on another note, admittedly, I have/had (it comes and goes) a huge grudge against the communal entity your husband once belonged to. I hated that swine Jud Presmont with a passion and considered him little better than a common pimp. It was terribly unfeminist of me to hold this against you. (I think Freud called that transference.)

    Again, my apologies. But if you knew the whole Jud-story, I think you might actually understand.


  24. Pedal said, on December 17, 2009 at 12:09 am

    I had just started reading your blog a couple of weeks before it shut down. It took me until today to find out what happened, and I just wanted to wish you well. If you do start another blog in the future, I’d love to hear about it. Your writing was consistently funny, smart and engaging.

    Good luck!

  25. Neely O'Hara said, on January 7, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    I had been a relatively recent lurker perhaps a month or two before the old blog went dark, and just now found this. I was worried about your sudden disappearance, and so was really happy to find this. I wish you all the best!

  26. bellim said, on April 20, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I’ve missed your blog since you closed it, and I only just saw this message. I didn’t agree with everything you said (maybe only 95%) but I really enjoyed reading it and you were part of my inspiration for unabashedly claiming Communist as a title. If you’re reading this, I’d like to be on the email list – I’m not sure if I ever commented. If you’ll take a minute to remove the Ws, my address is wzebwra10 (at) lwive (dot) cowm.

    Thanks for all your writing, and best of luck!

  27. Lemon Hat said, on October 20, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Hi, there. So late am I!

    Unfortunately, I only recently stumbled across several blogs linking to The Apostate. I’ve read a good deal of praise about your writing, and my only regret is that I missed the opportunity to get acquainted with your unique brand of feminism. (I’m relatively inexperienced when it comes to feminist engagement, especially as a young person confused and struggling with culture and religion. While you have undoubtedly left a void in the world of blogging, I do hope that your archives will at some point become available. I would love to pore over your perspectives on Islam, but I also must respect your decision to part ways with this blog.)

    In any case, I sincerely wish you the best of luck.

    ~ M. Ara

  28. berylliumbear said, on May 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I found the apostate first when I googled apostasy because I wanted to pin down a sense of meaning to the word when so many were using it so many different ways. I like it when words and people say what they mean and was struck by your honesty, integrity and intensity of commitment to your search. I enjoy that you never seemed to settle with your first impression but carried on to the center of essence.

    When I ctrl-clicked your url Aug 2, 2009, I was afraid for the worst, afraid that your honesty-integrity-integrity had ended horrifically. So much of the last half century, certainly the last decade, has turned horrific. This last ctrl-click today ended those fears for Apostate and I am happy finally to be able to wish you well. And tell you that you taught new things to this old, white, too atheist to be Atheist, too left to be right, man who had just about given up on where the next rays of hope would come from. You and those like you will be at the center of the light.

    Best of everything to you.

  29. tangle said, on November 13, 2011 at 5:03 am

    To all of those who found this page in 2009 and thought you were late to the party,
    I’m pleased to usurp the tardiness award from you.

    I was a longtime lurker, seldom poster, who — like many here — was sorry to see your blog disappear back in 2009. I thought I’d never learn why the blog went down, until I just happened upon the link while trolling the annals of iblamethepatriarchy. Having read your farewell, I completely understand your reasoning for removing the blog. (I coincidentally started law school at the same time that you did, and my own blogging efforts have suffered lo these last two years.) Recently my feminism, which law school has caused me to stifle to a certain extent, has been waxing again (hence my obsessive reading of Twisty’s articulate patriarchal blaming) and it’s caused me to question my commitment to the cause vis-a-vis my desire to make a comfortable and happy life for myself and my family. So I totally understand what led you to shut down the blog.

    In any event, I hope that your law school career is progressing well. If you’d ever be interested in exploring ways that feminist atheists such as ourselves can put our legal training to good use, without sacrificing our ability to pay back our loans and eat, please shoot me an email. I’d also love to know if you’ve figured out a way to maintain meaningful digital presence that doesn’t sabotage a lady lawyer’s chance of success; ie, please do tell if you start another blog!

    Best of luck as you finish your legal studies, and embark down the long, hard road of studying for the bar exam.

    Illegitimi non carborundum,

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