The Folly of Women Only Spaces Online

A link I found on Feministing today got my brain going this morning, and I’m glad I have a blog now, since I can finally write it all out. The post was called ‘Why The Washington Post’s new lady blog is wrong for women’, and I couldn’t agree more. Go read it first, then we’ll chat some more.

The first time I noticed this trend (creating spaces specifically for women instead of just adding more women in general) was with TED. Now, I love the TED talks. As in, I would spend all day watching them if I had just an ounce less willpower. But then they decided they needed to make a space for women. And I saw people talking about it like it was something awesome. Like, look at this nice gesture! Aren’t they being great? And I was thinking, no. No they’re not being great.

Because making a space for one specific sub-group can get wierd. It can easily turn into an excuse to move that group out of your normal space, to somewhere that people have to search out to find them. Before, if they wanted a woman speaker then they just put her in. Done! Diversity for TED and exposure for a sub-group. A win-win.

But now I wonder if there isn’t a subconcious shuffling going on. Where a woman speaker gets moved off into this little TED Women section, and then if you want to see that it’s harder to find it. You have to know that section is there, and you have to be actively checking it. And I wonder if there won’t be less women on TED’s main section. You know, where most of the exposure is.

So when I see these things I have to wonder. Are these people, the newspapers and the blogs, are they just not thinking it through? Do they think they’re helping? Because Jessica has it completely right. If you want to show equality, just add more people to your main site. It feels a bit like those old time-y dinner parties, where the men went into one room to talk about important things, and the women went somewhere else. How about just letting us join you, instead of moving us aside?

New Year’s Aspirations

I don’t really like the idea of resolutions. Yes, goal setting is good, but they just seem to turn into ways for my sneaky jerk brain to beat me up later. Like, why didn’t you do this? Didn’t you resolve to do this? Are you some kind of quitter? It turns into another way to feel bad later on.

So I’m changing my thinking. Instead of a goal which I am setting and Must! Reach! I’m aspiring to things. Think of it like a mission statement. It’s something I can judge my actions against without getting all knotty and tangled up in ‘should’ and then later on ‘didn’t’. Because aspirations are something to strive for, ways you try to better yourself. But none of us can be perfect, so the active striving is the important part.

So here’s my aspirations:

  1. Put myself out there
  2. Focus on improving my skill sets
  3. Pause for reflection more often

In the spirit of these I’ll be doing a couple of things, one of which is blogging more. Another is trying some of this structured procrastination.  Hopefully it’ll keep my jerk brain from getting on my case too much, especially since another of the things I’m doing is trying to work with or around my depression issues more. BTW, I love that comic, because it so accurately and humorously describes the spiral I get into.

Does anyone else have aspirations rather than goals? Why not share them? The more the merrier!

Email: just say no!

I’m beginning to really dislike my email.

One month ago I would have looked at that line and been appalled. Hate my email! Someone bring me my fainting couch! Because I loved my email. Loved it. I felt so productive when I checked my email. Things would come in. I would handle them and then they would go out again. It was progress, and every new email seemed to be a sign that I was accomplishing things, that my company was getting attention, that I was being in charge and doing right.

No. I’ve finally realized that’s completely wrong. It took a while, and I fought it, but now I get that email is a hollow sort of progress. Yes, I sometimes get things done that are important. And it’s good that everyone knows I’m accessible. But there was a dark side to that. Most of the emails were not important. In fact, most of my emails were things that would be best handled in bulk, later on. And each email became a totally legitimate, completely justifiable reason to put down the truly important things I was doing. It was ‘Oops, didn’t really pay attention to that meeting, but at least my email is clear’. Or ‘I’ll come right back to this marketing copy, I just have to answer this email’. It became another tool of procrastination, and I’m so prone to putting things off already; I didn’t need another way to do it.

Then the next thing kicked in. I would leave my email open, and constantly check it. I feel like I should be saying this in a camp-fire horror-story voice: It became a procrastination tool even when there was nothing there! And then I would get unhappy. Why wasn’t anyone sending me email? Why didn’t other people answer as fast as I did? And then, because my brain is a jerk, I would be less productive because I had nothing in my inbox. And that lack of productivity made me feel bad and I would avoid work. So I’m less productive. So I feel bad. I’m sure you can see the horrible spiral this was turning into.

So I stopped. Cut it off entirely. I check my email in the morning, and then when I finish a project and at the end of the day. I don’t go to it in the middle of things. I don’t worry about keeping it clear. That was painful. I felt so good about myself when I got rid of everything in my inbox! But only for a while, then I was back again, with the weeping and gnashing of teeth at the lack of communication from the outside world.  So that’s maybe a tiny exaggeration. But now I’m better, and I’m freer, more able to get my work done. It’s a good feeling, and more lasting than the shots of happy I’d get from hitting my email.

Now I just have to keep an eye out for the next thing that’ll keep me from being productive.

Hello world!

Many traditions hold that winter is the time for reflection and learning. It’s when we step back and take time to pull the important lessons out of your experiences in the past year. So in that spirit I suppose now is the best time to start a new blog, even if the internet certainly doesn’t need another.

But of course I’m not writing this for the internet (though you’re certainly welcome to it). This is simply a space to write about all the things that interest me. As I go on, in my sporadic and verbose fashion, you’ll probably hear about business, gender relations, literature and maker culture. And maybe other things. There’s no knowing at this point.

Don’t take anything here personally. I value my anonymity too much to call out people with their real names. Although I’m sure the smoke screen of the internet will only cover me until I get too controversial, or gain enough traffic. This is reality, so I’m not going to work too hard to cover my virtual tracks.

And so we begin. Welcome.