COMMENT:

I have a confession to make. Actually, no I don't.

For around about a decade, "confessional journalism" has been steadily stalking readers' collective arms looking for a hug.

After the hug, it seeks accolades - and usually gets them - for "bravery" or "candour" or some other platitude. Be a mildly famous journo, write about your boobs being too big, or too small, or too floppy, and stand back and watch the praise for your pluckiness roll on in.

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The vast majority of "bare-it-all" writers are female, who unwittingly take feminism back to an era when their words would likely be restricted to sharing new recipes or the sheer thrill of being a housewife - without mentioning the Valium, of course.

Given the privilege of a platform to a potentially large public, you'd think today's women would fair jump at the chance to speak about the cerebral and critical issues of the day.

But, oh no. There's some solemn self-loathing that needs to be overtly undertaken for the world to see. It's a serious business writing sob stories.

Now, it's one thing to insert the odd personal vignette into your writing. It's quite another to talk about the recent spate of pimples on your booty, or the dilemma of loving a man who is endlessly looking at porn.

How about the first time you realised you were "fat"? Or, how being "fat" is because of your severe depression?

Or, maybe one came before the other. Either way, you're anxious because you've also found the odd hair on your nipples, and you can't find your tweezers. And, look, far be it from you to heap even more body issues on to women.

You're a strong self-confessed feminist who's only trying to be open and honest and get it all out on the table so that other women feel less alone, right?

Wrong. You are totally and utterly adding to the problem, and I'm squarely judging you.

Now, I'll be judged for being too judgey. It means the screaming banshees will be busy screaming upon reading that sentence. But I'm standing firm. What appears to be lacking of late is critical judgment. We need more of it, not less.

If the women who write this "Dear Diary" shite stopped and thought about their audience for one moment, maybe they'd think better of showing us their tortured souls?

Teaching young women, and older women too, that they're only as good as the state of their bodies is so many degrees of self-degradation I can't get down low enough to explain them all. There's a price to be paid for all this naked soul-baring.

Firstly, and less importantly, the writer themselves becomes typecast in a perpetual state of self-obsession. She becomes the go-to person for the newspaper equivalent of reality TV. We can all think of writers who fit that particular bill.

Secondly, and crucially, her audience falls for what is essentially old-fashioned, stock-standard, timeless and immemorial, misogyny. That is, the media machine has taken the willing confessional journalist's small-time celebrity and turned it into the usual stereotypes around females being powerless, vulnerable, neurotic, only as good as their relationships, their bodies, and their sense of self-worth.

Of course, we all know there's a huge audience for feminine self-destructiveness. The woman's rags haven't survived this long for no reason.

By playing on the fact that you're being manipulated to feel worse about yourself rather than better, they're specialising in the elevation of both mediocrity and addiction to self-hatred.

And while I don't doubt for one moment the sincerity of the confessional treatise we now find in every corner of New Zealand's media, I'd argue it does nothing to help the state of anything. At all.

Have you noticed our suicide stats falling? Or the domestic violence stats? There is a solid argument to be made for not over-sharing. Numerous studies have shown that doing so only serves to trigger even worse pain for all concerned.

Therapists never tell you that.

I won't deny that my personality doesn't do well on overly-confessional anything. So, maybe this is my problem. Just because I'm uncomfortable with too much navel-gazing prose masquerading as journalism, doesn't make me right.

Maybe even more tell-all pieces is exactly what's needed for women to feel better about themselves. This trend of talking about every phobic thought that has crossed women's minds may hold the key to lasting female equality and personal contentment.

Or, just maybe the current wave of "feminist" writing will find itself breaking on the shores of complete irrelevance. It's entirely possible that the sisterhood is so divided on what's in the best interests of women, the rocks will be left completely exposed when the confessional tide goes out.

Other than that, I must confess that I have nothing further to confess.