I have a lot of backsliding to do over my last blogpost. Or call it “disclaiming,” or call it CYA, or call it apologizing. Anyway, first and foremost, I must say that all my ranting about Men, Banks and Everything was not remotely directed towards my Significant Other. Although, indirectly, it was sparked by things my two oldest sons have been saying to me lately… And, more importantly, I was not yet finished with my rant….?!?!!!
So where was I? Ah yes: Out “at sea.” Yep. I never got back from there, in fact. I’ve cooled my jets a bit since that last writing, though, and I’ve done less tweeting and FB checking these days. Reminds me. Brb.
You are HERE
Okay, I started this post FIVE DAYS AGO! Looks like I need to 1) write shorter posts; and/or 2) avoid FaceCrack. *sigh*
Well, I do feel like I’ve gotten on slightly more solid ground in the meantime… Two projects I’m working on are starting to get traction, and it’s also been good to have attended two Brussels Girl Geek Dinners in the past two weeks two, erm, too. Besides meeting some nice people there personally, this has also vicariously/virtually opened me up to the work and passions of a whole new pool of Brussels/Belgian women who share my same interests — theoretically.
From yesterday’s gathering, alone, I accidentally found out who the woman behind “girls against graffiti” — whose artwork I have admired for a long time — is (). And, I got to meet, chat with and otherwise hob-nob with “like-minded souls,” as my other new BGGD pal (and, hopefully, future collaboratrice), @elise_huard, calls it. I picnicked with the Ladies from Kipling.com, world-traveler Leen, and Inge from TenderFeelings.be. And I later managed to drop a whole box-load of picnic trash right in front of an oncoming vehicle with @nuria_gc, after which we were forced to hurriedly clean up all the mess (YES!) _with our bare hands_. Now that is invigorating — and bonding (ahem)!!! (Luckily, all the shutter-bugs had already left by that point, so I think they missed The Spectacle. Whew.)
Otoh, I still am upset about the imbalance of female representation in the world’s power structures. In fact, I recently started thinking that “power” itself is not a good thing, so maybe we don’t even _want_ to belong in a “power” structure. (And now, for the preachy part of the post…)
People say “power is neutral.” But let’s think of electric power, for example. Normally, we imagine “power” as something “positive”: Something we can use to do constructive things. But then, in fact, we are actually talking about “energy” — or even “exigy,” the availability of energy — but maybe that is something else. (In fact, Energy is Everything Else! ;-)) Usually, we don’t believe there is such a thing as “negative” power — except over on The Dark Side… We think that, in physical or chemical or whatever terms you measure it, power is a positive thing — or, at least, a “neutral” thing. Right?
The electrons from which we derive power/energy (don’t ask me how!) are, in fact, actually _negatively_ charged. (And PROTONs are positively charged — especially when your parents first send you off to college and put all your spending money on that little golden chip!) The fact that electrons are negative means that “power” is effectively “negative” at its source. And, this, in turn, and makes what I’m about to say only even MORE true! (Not really. Just depends on how much BS you’re willing to tolerate here!!)
The “power” which people possess, and the hierarchies which result from that (e.g. “power structures”) are also negative, imho. Why? Because people amass power either because they have done bad things, or because they are willing to do bad things (and what’s the difference after all, anyway?). Naturally, I can’t prove this, but, to illustrate, think about your own answers to the following questions.
1. Was Gandhi a powerful person?
No. Gandhi was not a powerful person. He was articulate, he was a good person, he had great sway, or influence over a lot of people. But would we say he was “powerful”??? It seems almost “beneath” him, doesn’t it?
2. Was Margaret Thatcher a powerful person?
We should give Maggie more credit because she was a woman, at least, but The Iron Lady had the reputation of being a real bitch — and not in the good sense. Had she done bad things to get to her position? Was she willing to do (more) bad things in her position? Maybe. And what does that mean for other people (mostly men) in “Positions of Power”? George Bush? George W. Bush? (Yes, I’m old enough to remember his father!) Barack Obama…?
Well, the shadow of a doubt is definitely there. So, does power actually have a “bent” in one direction or the other? I am arguing it does. And, likely, power is bad — or “negative,” at least…
Which is why my Soapbox for this post is Net Neutrality. (?!!!?)
An open, free, and universally accessible Internet creates _the_ opportunity for women to find a voice and gather “critical mass” behind objectives which we think are worthwhile. The internet, like female social structures (not “power” structures), is flat. It is pluralistic and, as long as it remains free and accessible, it is “democratic.” This is just the environment in which women can be expected to excel — to gain recognition, authority, and yes, power. *gulp*
So all the more reason for us to actively FIGHT to keep the male-dominated power structures which rule our society from taking over the internet as well!!!!! Therefore, go sign up to get/keep your piece of the internet “PI” RIGHT NOW! Now that the crisis is “over” and “normalcy” is restored — ahem — it will be very difficult for us to keep the internet free-from-male-domination. For the moment, though, the odds appear to be in our favor…
Yesterday, on my freaky-deaky public-transport trip home from BGGD15, I read in a booklet from Sanoma Magazines Belgium, called “What do women do online?” — which (Clo Willaerts) had very generously given everyone — that 52.1% of American internet users are women. In Belgium, that number is 47%. But did you hear that….WORLD??!? In a leading industrial country of the world, MORE WOMEN are online than MEN!!!!! (Would be great to know the statistics for the rest of the world. Anyone??!)
And what we women are doing online would be a great topic for a future post! For example, would you ever have imagined that 22% of Belgian woman are still online after midnight? I am certainly in that crowd, but I didn’t realize I had so much company! Hi, Ladies!!! *waving* But one other striking thing, quoted from The Economist of March 2009, is that American females decide on 80% of important household purchases. And there, like in Belgium, a significant amount of shopping, or simple price-comparison for future purchases, is done online. So the conclusion is: If a company wants to sell big-ticket consumer items, it should target advertising toward females and build up a respectable, female-friendly, online presence. That would certainly also help to keep the male-female power balance — online and IRL — well, in balance.
Never thought your VISA card was that powerful, did you?!? But, hell, Wilma and Betty had that figured out millenia ago!!!
Kinda makes me think that power isn’t so bad after all……..
Filed under: Geek, Girls, Green | Tagged: banks, Belgium, BGGD, Brussel Girl Geek Dinner, Clo Willaerts, consumers, electrons, energy, exigy, FaceCrack, feminism, Gandhi, girls against graffiti, internet, internet usage, kipling, La Quadrature du Net, Margaret Thatcher, Net Neutrality, power, rant, The Economist | 1 Comment »