How the Internets Shape My Day-to-Day Life (as a Feminist)

16 09 2009

One thing that was really interesting for me about the Women + Power Conference was all the discussion about blogging and other Internet technology and how it shapes our activism, our news-reading habits, etc.  From the stage, there were some really interesting stories about, for example, how a woman in rural Africa was able to connect to other women in a way she never would have been able to pre-Internet through the site Pulse Wire.  In our intergenerational lunch conversation, we talked more about how the Internet affects us generally, in terms of relating and developing friendships, both positive and negative.

When I got home, I started thinking about just how I do use the Internet both for information gathering and for community building.  Of course, I’m very conscious of things that the Internet helps me with in terms of getting information about the weather, restaurant menus, contact info, all that stuff that I find myself without when I’m away from the computer.  But what I don’t pay as much attention to is the social element.  I also wonder how my Internet use differs from others my generation and a little bit older, or a little bit younger.  So I’ll describe a typical day of Internet usage for me, and I’d be interested to hear how this differs from your experience in the comments.  Also, coincidentally I came across a blog post today that discusses relationships and Facebook.  Though Facebook isn’t a big social medium for me, I thought you might be interested to check out what this blogger has to say.

A Day in the Online Life of Me

Keep in mind, of course, that I’m not working right now, so I can spend a lot more time online.

Right after waking up:  Read through Twitter Feed and Tweet once.  Check e-mail.  Read my Google Reader (a few traditional newspapers, feminist websites and blogs, queer blogs, sexuality blogs, law and other academic blogs, foodblogs, Daily Beast, friends’ blogs, NPR, the New Yorker).

During the day: Watch a few TV shows online (Rachel Maddow Show, Daily Show, Colbert Report).  Post to one or two of my blogs.  Spend a good 4-6 hours intermittently chatting with friends online.  I met many of my closest friends online initially, and some I have never met in person, which was a particular surprise to the older women at the intergenerational lunch.

Night: Settle into a chat room with a group of my friends.  Chat till around 11 pm – 1 am until my eyes absolutely won’t stay open.  Rinse and repeat.

Some observations: One thing I don’t use a lot is Facebook, though it’s a great tool for invitations and organizing contact information.  I don’t read Twitter more than once a day, which means that I miss a lot.  I was surprised to hear presenters this weekend talk about meeting people on Twitter.  Meet?  But it’s 140 characters!  I met most of my friends through blog and online journal comments, communities specific to a particular interest, or OKCupid, an online dating site that I use to meet other queer friends and sometimes make dates.  After making a connection, our primary contact is through IM.  I also don’t use Skype or videochat, so my contacts are almost all textual.  Sometimes when I do meet someone in person I’m surprised by how their personality is different, how they look, how they interact.  I don’t know if it’s good or bad – just different.

Advertisements




Omega Women + Power Conference Wrap-Up

14 09 2009

First, just a couple of administrative notes.  For some reason, comment notification e-mails were not coming to me, and I missed a number of older comments in the moderation queue.  If you’re one of those people, I apologize for not approving your comment sooner!  Those of you who asked specific questions in comments on the About page, I did see your questions and I’ll be responding soon.  Thanks for your patience 🙂  Also, I want to thank everyone who’s kept me on your blog reading list despite a few months of mostly dead time.  This is a transition point for me in blogging, and the workshop at Omega on blogging reinforced something I knew already–that I need to post consistently and keep to a set schedule if I want readership to come and stick around.  So from this point forward, I’m setting a minimum goal of three posts per week.  I hope you enjoy the content and pass the word on about this blog.

That said, I just want to post a wrap-up about the conference in Rhinebeck.  As you may have gathered, I was liveblogging and Tweeting from a mobile device, specifically an iPod Touch, and so the one-fingered typing has some limitations!  Some of my favorite quotes from the weekend are on Twitter (peachy_penumbra), but I wanted to say overall how much I enjoyed the conference and how inspiring, funny, and yes, powerful, many of the women who shared the stage were.  I also made some great friendships over a very short period of time, and got to meet a lot of cool young women who may not have been able to speak on the stage, but had a lot to say off of it.

For me, the conference was a mixture of feeling empowered and refreshed, and on the flip side, feeling a little bit angry and frustrated.  On the one hand, there were these great organic conversations going on, the empowerment of being in what really felt like a safe space (so safe that yoga and naked sauna-ing were involved!), and fabulous speakers that made me feel like I could achieve a lot more than what I’m doing right now.  Women like Gloria Steinem, Isabel Allende, Helen Thomas, Lateefah Simon, Jensine Larsen (etc., etc., etc.) are a great inspiration, even if some of the younger activists make me feel downright lazy!  On the other hand, there were some negative aspects to the conference.

There was a lot of emphasis on nurturing, caring, embracing the “feminine” instead of only focusing on power and aggression.  I have an instinctive clench-up reaction to that.  Part of it is a psychological struggle that I’m going through personally and won’t get into at the moment, but another part is that this masculine/feminine dichotomy is so frustrating.  I felt that a lot of women, especially older women, were saying things like embrace your feminine side, we’re learning these values to pass on to our children, let’s think about our husbands and men in our lives, etc.  In other words, there was a fairly heteronormative, dichotomous gender-based structure to this whole thing.  Lesbians and transgendered people were mentioned from time to time, but I think that there was a deeper structural issue at play.  I noticed it in the insistence on labeling everyone’s “two sides” masculine and feminine in our intergenerational discussion, even when a woman was trying to say that these things don’t really have to do with gender.  Why do we always have to think in twos?

Hopefully our generation is moving in the right direction on this, though, and I think we are.  Overall, it was a great experience–inspiring, thought-provoking, and challenging.  I hope I’ll have the opportunity to attend more events like this in the future.





Liveblogging from women and power conference

12 09 2009

Liveblogging from the omega institute women and power conference!

Friday, September 11

10:27 pm: met some fabulous women today! Omega has great food. Gloria Steinem made some really good points about intergenerational feminist connecting.

Saturday, September 12

9:20 am: Sakena Yacobi is speaking on her experiences as a women’s rights and women’s health activist in Afghanistan. She does amazing work under daily risk to her life. I don’t think I understood the trauma of living through conflict until I heard her describe how families are hurt by the lack of trust and communication that comes from trying to protect oneself. Her solution–education–really speaks to me.

9:45 am: Yacobi is doing something really innovative with her women’s learning centers–supplementing core academics with topics like health education, ethics, etc. They also give women contraceptives, sexuality education, and Koran-based education on how to say no to violence and rape. We could learn from her.

10:16 am: Panel of young women both inspiring and humbling. Jensine Larsen started World Pulse magazine as a shy 28 year old with no publishing experience. Her magazine and website are creating amazing connections between women struggling and suceesing all over the world. I think we forget how much of a lifeline Internet forums can be for women who have few other ways to connect.

11:17 am: Kick ass talk from Lateefah Simon earlier. Fascinating panel now addressing issues such as confronting fear in activism, body confidence, and organizations to watch. Check out my tweets at peachy_penumbra and all the news from the conference at #womenpower.

11:47 am: Loung Ung doing a great intro for Isabel Allende. I’ve been thinking from all these women’s stories how great it’d be to have a mentor. Rather than feeling big and empowered, I feel very small. Lots of confusing emotions this weekend–should I feel angry, closed off? This morning at yoga I prayed to be full of love, and I find that I need that, but also the strength to ask for support, as so many brave young women have here.

2:27 pm: Isabel Allende was unsurprisingly inspiring. Our table got into some critical discussion of how we organize the world along gender lines at the cross generational lunch. I felt like we didn’t make a lot of progress, but it was interesting. Also talked a lot about technology and how we relate. Now listening to sports panel, Feministing blogging workshop next.

12:53 am: Sitting on a bench outside the cafe after a long night. Feministing editors had some good tips on blog promotion, safety, and content generation. Sarah Jones and Natalie Merchant both fabulous. Finally, look for an exciting blog related update in a week or so!

Sunday, September 13

10:45 am: Young feminist presentation this morning. I think Courtney & Charreah did a pretty good job of summarizing young feminism, but I would have liked for them to list more topics of interest for our generation. Now Helen Thomas is coming onstage.

Note: There was one last update from the bus at 7 pm but my iPod went screwy so suffice it to say the moderator sucked, but Helen Thomas was pretty badass, as were the other women journalists on the panel.