29
Jun
10

Need some laughs? Yoga Behind Bars Comedy Fundraiser Tonight!

If you are looking for something to do tonight, head on over to The Comedy Underground for a Yoga Behind Bars Fundraiser. It will be a great way to meet folks who make Yoga Behind Bars happen and spend a Tuesday night.

The show starts at 8:30 pm

The Comedy Underground

109 South Washington, Seattle, WA
$10
Here is the link with all the info:
14
Oct
08

Pink & Pretty: Traditional Feminine Coding in Cyberspace

Embodiment & Performance: A Cyberfeminist Critique of the Labor Structures in the Information Communication and Technology Industry

Cyberfeminism must frame the relationship of women to the new technoculture so as to facilitate an understanding of women’s relationships with cyberspace. How are women participating on the Internet? How are they engaging in the creation and production of software? What are women doing in comparison to men in cyberspace? These are questions that need to be tackled by cyberfeminists because they give insight into how real life structures are replicated in the cyberworld. This is especially important when it comes to analyzing how women affect the economy in late pan-capitalist structures. Faith Wilding Writes in Art Journal that,  “Women are an important consumer market and help maintain the status quo when the technology is used in a passive manner. For example, most institutions of commerce and government are all too quick to give women computers, e-mail accounts and so on if it will make them better bureaucrats.¨ Not all of women’s actions on the Internet are progressive or feminist. In many ways, womens’ participation perpetuates the current system. Just as women can participate and even replicate the patriarchy in real life, so too in cyberspace. The products that created women oriented cyberspaces online typically stem from socially constructed feminine gender norms such as shopping, health, motherhood and beauty. Paasonen writes:

¨’Female Spaces’ on corporate web sites seem to be defined through a very familiar axis of embodiment (menstruation, reproduction, motherhood) and femininity as a set of values, characteristics, and practices (sharing, caring, emotions, social skills and mutual support). The shared experiences of women are depicted in pastel colors, with images of neatly attired, able-bodied women of various ethnic backgrounds smiling side by side. The diversity has obvious limits, and the sites do not give space to a redefinition of gender and/or femininity.¨

Instead of offering space for liberating exploration of new worlds and means of connecting, women are again confined by patriarchal gender standards. Women could be using these online networks to branch out of mainstream media and corporate consumer culture, instead of being female consumer communities around these very oppressive structures. According to Paasonen, cyberfeminists must challenge the definitions of women:

¨The representation of women as a homogenous group ultimately reinforces the binary gender models…In discussions of women and the Internet we must question which women are being discussed, what meanings are attributed to the category of “women” and what meanings are actively excluded. Critically we must analyze women-oriented products and services along with basic assumptions about women’s ‘nature,’ needs and experiences produced in a commercial context.¨

This is not to say that all of women’s activity on the Internet centers around consumerism and beauty, but the replication of these industries is important to the development of a feminine identity online. Make up and clothing are signifiers of femininity in the real world and have been translated to work in the cyberworld as well. It should also be noted that heterosexism also prevails in these beauty industries online, especially in dating and online advice communities.

The Internet is considered a male domain by default. Men are the assumed builder, producers and users of the Internet; however, this is not the reality. “Women have been under-represented in technical skills, in content production, as well as online usage” (Paasonen 91). It is generally assumed that men are better or more interested in new technologies than women. For example, many new technologies are marketed towards the professional white male. The Internet is seen as gender neutral, when in reality it is not, because it comes from a male designed and defined perspective. This is because women have been weeded out from the design end of computer and technology production. Women on the Internet take a secondary role. When sites are tailored to women’s interests they are done so from the typical slant that is taken in the “real world” it replicates the masculinist capitalist mode of women as passive consumers.

10
Oct
08

A Bit Reclusive

So, I haven’t written in a long time. Not because I haven’t really wanted to write. In fact quite the opposite is true. I just haven’t found the time or the energy to put into blogging. I think this will get a lot better soon. I quit my job in retail and am looking for other ways to live my life. I was contemplating recapping all the issues i thought about writing but the moment has passed.

I am looking to plug in more the radical community in Denver. I am also looking to make sure I enjoy the way I spend my time. Time is so much more important than money.

Anyway. I am going to start vlogging soon…at the very least a few more posts and a lot more twitter.

05
Aug
08

GLAM Camp

Leah Buechley's LED Clothing

Leah Buechley's LED Clothing

My favorite project of the summer has been my internship at Denver Open Media. I am an outreach intern there. Denver Open Media is the public access station in Denver. They have a participatory model that goes beyond typical public access stations. My particular focus has been on planning this event called GLAM Camp, Girls Learning About Multimedia camp. This project was a perfect fit for me, allowing me to inspire girls, work with multimedia, and meet other inspirational women in Denver. The result of the camp will be a documentary on women and technology that the girls will make and will are on DOM channel 57 August 15, 2008. (I will also upload the documentary on my blog…it has a few more edits before it will be up.)

Today was day two of the camp and I left with warm fuzzies all over. The group of eight girls got to help film the presentations of Leah Buechley and Sharee Dieringer and then interview the women for the documentary. The girls were engaged in all aspects of production, from camera work to coming up with the interview questions. When the girls were listening to the presentations they would get excited and curious. I hope they leave the camp inspired to think of their own dreams.

Leah’s work with technology and textile arts reaches far beyond the typical notions of what technology is and how one can work with it. Her interactive fabric pieces combine lights and sound with textile arts and fashion, pushing both areas outside of their comfort zone. I have never seen anything like what Leah had presented. She is an artists and a programmer. Her creations are playful, interactive and completely innovative. I felt personally inspired to expand my own creativity and experiment with her led lights and sounds in fabric.

What I really loved about Leah was her genuine passion for what she did. She has overcome the gender barrier and re-conceptualized what one can do with technology. Instead of feeling confined to the male dominated programming, she paved her own path. Instead of making robots she wanted to make beautiful fashions. She described her experience of being the only girl in classes or one of a few in a computer programming masters program. She overcame her initial insecurities of feeling less experienced with technology, to carving her own niche in the industry.

Sheree works in Graphic Design, specifically through civic pixel. She focuses on making logos and designs for non-profits. Her work is elegant and varied for each client. Sheree loves her job and really encouraged the girls not to settle for less than their dreams. She had designed everything from logos and book covers to websites. Working with the latest design software, technology has become her medium of expression. One project that was really amazing was a personal project about the layers of self and identity. She was able to fuse her personal life with design. The girls loved learning that they can utilize their creativity and love of technology and turn it into a satisfying job.

GLAM Camp also provides a space for girls to question the ways that mainstream society values women. We did an activity where we looked at pictures of six women known for their academic and athletic accomplishments. While the girls knew some of the womens’ names or a little bit about them they were not as recognizable as the women on our second slide. On the other slide we featured women, like Paris Hilton who are known for looks and wealth. Most of the girls groaned when they saw pictures of these women, sick of their plastic looks and tabloid shenanigans. Then we talked about women role models in our lives. Many of the girls looked up to their mothers. In many ways this activity enforced the broader goal of the camp to help girls actualize their own potential using their intelligence and creativity.

02
Aug
08

Media Spectacle

For a long time i have criticized the mainstream media for not accurately reporting on social movements, or not reporting on them at all. While charity receives praise from media, direct action by activists is often ignored. When was the last time Food Not Bombs or Derailer got a spot on the local news for all they do to benefit Denver? But in the last week or so, after being in the media spotlight as apart of an anarchist organization, i have been thinking the media are not only at fault.

Debord once wrote about how our society has evolved to the point where spectacle is the product. We live in a media saturated world, where getting on the news or blog posts must be one tactic in social movements. Debord defines spectacle as a series of social relations. It the extraordinary juxtaposition of two things that can result in an image layered with meanings. Spectacle is the games we play, constructing images predicated on your preexisting knowledge of social relations. I was the subject of such an image. As the bandanna clad anarchist asking for the reallocation of money spent on weapons to funding health care, education and low-income housing. We knew our plea would never be met, but we hoped the image and speech would help others understand our point.

Success in this case is hard to define. Our group is more well known after the article. Yet not all were fans, in fact i think most missed the point. We expected as much. Comment threads often mocked and critiqued us as anarchists (although, not with depth or intellect) . The shallow understanding of our action and the preconceived notions of anarchy limited the capacity of our own spectacle to make a difference. If spectacle relies on one’s understanding of social relations, then what happens when people misunderstand those relationships? It isn’t simply the media’s fault for poor reporting (I actually think the RMN did a good job) but poor understanding of the readers. Or perhaps the people who make comments like, “Aren’t Anarchy and organizing an oxymoron?” just have never been challenged to look beyond their own paradigm.

Is it the responsibility of the media to make people aware of the neo-liberal economic bias that drives corporate media? Or would that be too self-destructive? Are the masses so indoctrinated by hierarchy that they fail to the see the moments of anarchy in their own lives? We all live in a world that is complex. Some parts are highly structured bureaucracies, while other moments are free from such confines. Like moments with friends and loved ones, where all voices are valued equally and decisions collective. While I want to continue challenging perceptions of reality and pushing others to look beyond what they know, I am skeptical that mere spectacle can achieve this. After all, it is the spectacle of DNC that we are fighting against. Media savvy actions are one tactic within a larger strategy of direct action. Perhaps the mainstream media won’t report on skill shares or guerrilla gardening, but that is why we should just have our own media.

06
Jul
08

With the DNC around the corner..

So, with the DNC so quickly approaching I have been thinking a lot about the role of protest. Many people don’t understand why one would protest the Democrats. I personally feel it is essential to protest both the Republicans and the Democrats because these conventions illuminate the farcical democracy we have as our political system. The democrats maintain the illusion that they are for the people, while in reality still pandering to the same capitalist agenda as the Republicans. I am frustrated with those who buy into the lesser of two evils bullshit. I am not interested in mediocre leadership or hope. I am interested in a participatory democracy, not one of passive spectatorship. If we want change in our country, more importantly our communities we must work together to make it happen. Casting a vote alone will never result in the progressive change we need to fix inequality and fight oppression.

People create and comply with our social structure. Realizing that the way things are is not inevitable is empowering. This allows for endless creativity to restructure our world. While this is a global revisioning, we must begin here and now. We can work now to skill share and start community gardens. We need to stop being afraid of each other and start talking and take back our communities. We need to set up free stores and start food co-ops. We need to take care of each other now. This isn’t about wistful dreaming, but direct action. And that leads me to protesting…so direct action often takes form in protesting. Protests offer visibility to often marginalized political beliefs. There is power in visibility. The critique of the democrats can radicalize others who are exposed to new ways of thinking and inspire actions.

I want people to see the beauty and freedom of our dreams. The protests of the DNC can’t just be angry ranting and brick throwing, they must demonstrate the totality of our politics.

The only thing about protests is that it can’t just end at the protest. We must take this opportunity to come together as activists and work to create a better community. It is in that action that we start to actualize our vision.

17
Jun
08

Intentions

The funny thing is I intended this blog to be about cyberfeminism and I have not really ever posted on that. So, tonight seems to be the perfect time. I have a complicated relationship with technology and thankfully, so do many cyberfeminists. The first cyberfeminist writing was full of Utopian notions of virtual spaces. Writers saw virtual reality as new territory ripe for redefinition and liberation. Donna Harraway writes about how the complex mixing of flesh and machine challenges the traditional gender binary.

But see, pan-capitalism and the commoditization of virtual reality hindered this utopia from development (this is not to exclude resistance). In the practical applications of virtual technology real life structures were imposed on the virtual structures. To signify virtual spaces as feminine the typical pink, babies, shoes and cosmopolitan bullshit was implemented. While the technology can be somewhat democratizing (depending on what country you live in, your wealth and level of access) many virtual spaces are used to make us better consumers. Hey look now you can buy shit 24/7 and it will just show up to your door!

Cyberfeminists critique the industrial side of the Information Communication and Technology industry. Faith Wilding articulates a need to analyze the invisible maintenance labor of our highly technocratic culture. Think about the people who are manufacturing technology and performing data entry positions. Think about the impact on the environment. Think about how the speed of technology forces us to be more efficient, but at what cost to our well being?

While technologies like the internet can be very useful for organizing, informing and creating, such technologies also come with a hidden cost that the privileged refuse to see.

For more information I highly recommend

subRosa

Faith Wilding

 




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