Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A bit of a poem by Adrienne Rich

I've been looking in my books for a particular poem that I remembered copying into a notebook about 20 years ago, and found it finally tonight:

The world tells me I am its creature
I am raked by eyes    brushed by hands
I want to crawl into her for refuge    lay my head
in the space    between her breast and shoulder
abnegating power for love
as women have done    or hiding
from power in her love    like a man
I refuse these givens    the splitting
between love and action    I am choosing
not to suffer uselessly and not to use her
I choose to love    this time    for once
with all my intelligence

It's from "Splittings" by Adrienne Rich - from The Dream of a Common Language. I love the way that "choosing not to suffer uselessly" is repeated throughout - and the way the lines are split - caesura - and the two lines that are not split, "abnegating power for love" and "with all my intelligence". It would have been cheap and easy and wrong to split the first, and it obviously makes sense for the last line to come together rhythmically, in a rush, for the sake of wholeness & synthesis.

Poetry is often useful to talk about things that it's impossible to talk about otherwise. I love how this poem throws gender and queerness right in to the list of impossible things - things that impossiblify love.
Pushed even further in "Cartographies of Silence", so beautifully at the end.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A girl can wield a mean soldering iron

When I was around 10 and 11 I was very into soldering irons, little electronic bits and pieces, and anything that made me feel nerdy and mad-scientist-y. I loved the smoky metal-hot smell of the solder and how scary it was... and making things that worked and were "real". At first I just made different kinds of switches and circuits with tiny lightbulbs, and then advanced to collecting hydrogen in a test tube and lighting it on fire to make it pop. EXCITING! The coolest thing I ever learned about was electroplating. I copper plated every small metal object in our house, adding all sorts of weird stuff to the copper sulfate solution to see what effect it would have; my sister's dollhouse toaster came out really well when I made a strong solution using tons of ketchup. And hello, what could be cooler than safety goggles and a voltmeter?

I had a point in here somewhere.

Erica Rios of Xicanista, a former instructor for Techbridge, passed on this job call for me to post:

Techbridge Program Manager

Want to make a difference in a girl's future? Help change girls'
images of and experiences with technology and have an opportunity to work with a dynamic team of educators. Techbridge is an innovative program to inspire girls in technology, science and engineering. The program is hosted after school at elementary, middle, and high schools in Oakland, San Lorenzo, and at the California School for the Blind in Fremont. In these after-school programs, girls work on a variety of projects such as making solar LEGO cars, soldering, digital photography, and building robots. The girls also participate in field trips and meet with role models.

Under the supervision of the Program Director, the Techbridge Program Manager is responsible for supporting and supervising staff, coordinating and implementing our after-school programs, developing and piloting curricula, and leading professional development workshops for teachers, role models, and professional audiences. We are looking for an experienced and dynamic individual who has the ability to supervise a team of instructors, work with the Techbridge project director, and oversee the development of training and resources to teachers, professionals and partners.

It sounds like a GREAT job getting to be a nerd role model for techy girls. Write to techbridge@chabotspace.org if you're interested in the job!

Now, part of my point was that I was extremely into the soldering and circuits and experiments, but I reached a point very quickly where I had nowhere further to go with it, and no where to go for information or leadership. Books from the library only went so far, and then information stopped. How to take it further? So -- if you DO get involved with a program like this, or you know a young nerdlet, please try to find them mentors and books and extra information, to keep their interest going and feed their love of science and tech.

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Women in tech - for younger women

I would like to say to all the young women who are computer geeks, or science geeks of any kind, that it's more important than you can imagine to join up with other women.

I have been a feminist all my life, and yet somehow, when I was working in tech, I didn't hook into women's networks. I didn't know about them, actually.

But you can join, or read:
Women-related Science/Technology email lists - resource page with a great list!
Systers (mailing list)
devchix.com (group blog)
Deeply Geeky (mailing list sparked from BlogHer
WIT & WorldWIT
WISE Women in Science and Engineering (suckily, page last updated in 2003...)
BlogHer (group blog)
She's Such a Geek (group blog)

And so many more --

I have joined a lot of these lists and I have to say, there are many days I read them and burst into tears. (In a good way.) Why? I'm not sure. What people describe is so close to my experiences, so well articulated and analyzed -- and yet often from women who are so much more of studly geeks than me -- and much older. It's hearing the wisdom of people who I wish I could have learned from years ago. There are such great ideas, wonderful advice, balanced views, and very realistic.

I had a lot of conversation one on one with other women about the issues addressed in these forums, but it's different for it to be public, and so wide-spread, and more political-feeling instead of personal cathartic hopeless storytelling -- which was valuable and validating, but didn't always help create change.

It would have changed my life drastically to have had this kind of support, resources, validation, etc. available to me when I was 25, or 20, or 15, or 10.

If you have a daughter, or a younger friend, and she is into science and math and computer stuff, please hook her up with this sort of resource if you possibly can, and with older mentors. It's really really important! Please do it!

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