Thursday, June 3, 2010

Where do I even begin?

The past few days have been, well…it’s something that can’t be summed up in a single word, a single phrase, a single sentence, a single paragraph.

It’s making it rounds through the interwebs, but in case you haven’t heard, nerdgirls is joining with some people to make a reality TV show about STEM women, “normal” college aged (how I have begun to really loathe the word “normal”). Now, this sounds quite awesome on the surface. There is going to be a TV show. Featuring women. Being intelligent. Doing math and science. Featuring women.

I’ll be honest, when I first heard about it, I frantically went searching for information on the application process, not because I want to be on TV (but holy crap it’d be awesome. and terrifying. but awesome) but because this is something that I care about. I’m frustrated that society, even in my STEM classes, loves to shove it down my throat that I can only pick one: looks, brains, or personality. I’m tired of being one of maybe 5 girls in a class of 60. I’m infuriated when I go to job fairs and the people letting you sign in ask if you know what the job fair is for and if you’re lost.

Hi. I am a female. I think I’m gorgeous. I think I’m intelligent. I think I’m a decent human being. I am not lost. I often know more about the subject that you do, Mr. Human Resources person. I know my math. I know my science. I know my electrical engineering. I know my motors and generators. I know this isn’t a “stereotypical female” area. I know you think most girls think math and science and technology are “gross” and “icky” unless it’s for facebook or texting or talking like the stereotypical valley girls you think all the “pretty” girls are or whatever you think it is that we do all day while you frolic (ha!) off to do your “macho manly-man” stuff. GET OVER IT ALREADY SOCIETY! ROAR!

So, umm…yeah. The idea of the show sounds great. Breaking down barriers and all that great stuff. That is, until you start thinking about it.

The application asks for pictures and videos and stuff. Maybe I’m jaded by watching TV, but they most certainly aren’t going to pick the most representative women of the field. Just from pictures, they more than likely will eliminate women who don’t qualify as conventionally “pretty”. They aren’t going to pick the women who have blemishes, or who don’t have perfect hair, or who aren’t skinny enough, or who don’t have perfect teeth, or who maybe look like they care more about being an engineer than being a model.
And to some extent, I can understand that. I can understand that you want the ratings, and part of getting the ratings is to have people on the show that your audience is going to want to look at.

But here’s where I waffle about it: the target audience is young women. The target audience is young women who need role models telling them that it’s okay to be smart. We already have enough of society telling girls and women that they need to be pretty. We have the “need to be pretty to supposedly be successful” idea sledge hammered into our minds, thank you.

Now, I’m not saying don’t not pick someone simply because they are conventionally beautiful, but rather I wish the whole picture and video part was in a later part of the application process, like a job interview. I wish that they made it perfectly clear that you don’t have to be a fashion guru or practically a model to even be considered. I wish that they exclaimed that the show was about the beauty of being intelligent.

I also think it is important to show that women can be intelligent and beautiful (conventionally and not) and decent human beings (or even…nice!). It’s just…I have like a Gibb’s gut feeling that they’re only going to emphasize how sexy they look in their geek getup and completely ignore the fact that there’s any STEM stuff going on or that these women are human beings with wants and needs and whatnot.
ANYWAY.

Another thing TV has jaded me on: reality shows seem to have a lot of infighting. Like “OhMyGosh! Betty Sue is like totally being mean because she drank coffee in front of me!” “Well Jim Bob is a total jerk because he coughed while I was talking 3 weeks ago!” and blah blah blah. They really play up the petty things that people do.

And again, I can understand to an extent. Conflict creates ratings.

But if all your show focuses on is the pathetic bickering of participants, especially if this is in a show that’s meant to stomp out some stereotypes, I think I may hate TV forever. Sure, they show is supposed to focus on solving engineering problems, but there’s naturally going to be disagreement in how to solve problems, especially STEM problems. (One thing about STEM fields: there is never a single correct solution. It’s all about the assumptions made. Twenty different designs can all be equally valid to solve a problem.)

On that same note, I’ve noticed that people in STEM fields tend to not be total jerks to each other, which means the show will more than likely be low on petty conflict. Personally, my theory is that STEM people, and especially women, have generally come to the conclusion that the rest of the world gives us enough crap, so why should we dish out more to people who know how much is sucks?

If there is petty conflict shown in the show, my theory is that it’s going to be from 5 second sound bites from really random questions where the audience isn’t even going to hear the question. I can see it going something like this:

*video clip of Janice eating a cookie*

Interviewer person that you will never hear: Do you think it’s mean to eat a cookie in front of a starving person who really wants a cookie but can’t have cookies?

Mandy: Yeah. It’s mean to eat a cookie in front of someone who is starving and can’t have cookies.

And then the entire world will think that Mandy thinks that Janice is a total . (TV, I have figured you out! hahaha!)

TV people, don’t ruin TV for me; don’t ruin being a nerd for me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Friday, November 6, 2009

I completely understand…

And “That was my last piece of gum.” Two of the biggest, most common lies I have ever heard. Of course, when someone tells you that they are consuming their last piece of gum, it’s intentional and most people let it slide and move along. “I completely understand” isn’t meant as a lie, but isn’t something I’m willing to let slide.
There are certain contexts where “I understand” are indeed appropriate. For example:
Professor/teacher: Do you understand the concept I am teaching?
Student: I understand.
To understand something, at least the way I read the connotations, is more than just comprehension. It’s to not only grasp the meaning, but also all the implications, to engrain something conveyed into the very fiber of your being. It becomes second nature, inherently obvious.
So, when someone tells me they “completely understand” what I’m going through, I call bullshit.
I call bullshit even when my doctors tell me they “know” or “understand that it’s so hard what I’m up against.” Really. How would anyone know? I’m certain many have attempted imagining what the process is like, and many have probably seen the actual process.
Here’s something shocking: comprehending the mechanics of my daily life isn’t the same thing as knowing about my life! I know! It’s so phenomenal, that the majority of people don’t seem to understand this seemingly simple concept.
Let’s take an example, because I love examples.
When I have to give myself an injection, even little kids comprehend the mechanics of giving oneself a shot. Hell, I’ve even seen 5 year old kids do it (actual medication). You pull out a syringe, draw up the proper amount of medication, angle the needle properly if it needs to be angled (for the medication I’m on, it needs to be subcutaneous, not intramuscular, so it needs to be angled), slide the needle in, push in the plunger, hold for a few seconds, remove needle, apply pressure to injection site for ~5-10 seconds, recap needle, and your done! (This obviously isn’t going into every single detail, but you get the idea)
The people who are able to watch this, and I’m willing to bet even those who can’t, are able to understand the mechanics of giving oneself a shot. This is not the same thing as understanding how this action and observers fit into the equation of understanding the process.
Where am I while doing this? Who is with me? How terrified are they of needles? How much medication do I need? Shit, now everyone is watching thinking I’m a total druggie. Seriously, people. Don’t call the cops. I have a prescription. I have it with me, even! No, don’t slap my food out of my hand. No, I need to eat food. No, I don’t care that your grandma had the same disease as I do. I don’t care how your grandma took care of her disease. LALALALALALALALALA!!!!!!! GO AWAY! I WANT TO TAKE MY MEDICATION! STOP STARING! Should I be accounting for agitation in my calculations? YES! I AM IGNORING YOU NOW! STOP WHINING! Fuck this, I’m doing this in the restroom. DON’T FOLLOW ME INTO THE BATHROOM! Lolsob.
Even other people who do have the same diseases as I do, who experience some of the same obstructions in their everyday lives as I do, I can never understand what it’s like for them, and them for me. No one knows the full magnitude of my pain, my joy, my sorrow, my love, my fear, my peace, my anything, my everything except, for me.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Seriously

I need someone looking over my shoulder telling me to not use the handy dandy internet to look up my peer’s stupidity.

[trigger warning]


[stupid warning]

Let’s back up to yesterday.

I’m in lab, having a normal lab time, working with my lab partner on a circuit. Normal lab time generally involves some goofing off and random conversation. This lab period, we were joking about resistor color codes, melting wires, and my inability to put components into the correct sockets (I’d be one off because I was tired from having a horribly triggery week and not sleeping because of it).

So, when we were joking about resistors (I know, we’re complete nerds), my lab partner tells me a mnemonic device to remember the resistor color code. It’s incredibly triggering, as are its variations.


[again, TRIGGER WARNING]

Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls, But Violet Goes Willingly
“Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls Behind Victory Garden Walls

“Bad Boys Rough’ Our Young Girls, But Violet Goes Willingly

“Bad Boys Rough’ Our Young Girls Behind Victory Garden Walls


Seriously? I mean, seriously? We can’t have the other mnemonic devices mentioned? It has to be that one? (the one first mentioned in class was the first one)

And then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the other guys in the room chimed in with the variations, all laughing about how hilarious rape is, how it’s a “life experience” that “every woman should go through”. Seriously.

Did I mention that some of these guys were talking about how they participated in the “walk a mile in women’s shoes” march, and therefore, totally knew everything about “woman issues”?

Guys, let me help you. You don’t know jack shit about women’s issues when you make comments like the ones you made.

Seriously.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Newsflash

I have breasts! Yes, I know this is news because certain peers have peculiar reactions when they're noticeable (as in, whenever I'm not dressed like a box or they can see me).
Yes, I realize that my voluptuous knockers might be hard to ignore, but I have a request:

When you're talking to me, my eyes and mouth are on my face, not on them. Please look at my face and talk to me, not at my boobs.

I have actually conducted a sort of experiment on my peers, which, admittedly isn't very scientific, but has a point!
I've been keeping track of conversation topics with my peers and how "aggressively" they attempt to talk to me based on what I'm wearing. The results are shocking! I swear, you're mind will be blown away!
When I'm in clothes that hide my figure, my peers are less aggressive about talking to me and the conversation normally sticks to our classes, TV shows, or funny stories.
When I'm in clothes that show figure (ie, you can tell I have a butt and/or breasts), my peers are much more aggressive about wanting to talk to me, and the conversations drift into how "totes awesome" they are, sex, how macho they are...

I know. Shocking, right?

Now, I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to my peers and assume that their subconscious is really the cause of this phenomenon. But now that you know, knock it off. I don't want to talk about certain things with you. My boobs are not on display for you. I am your peer, damnit, not some piece of meat for you to ogle. I refuse to dress in cardboard boxes to have serious conversations/conversations that don't revolve around sex or how awesome you are. You think you're awesome? Great. Stop telling me.

Recap: Stop staring at my boobs. I am a human being.

"But, mocha!" some of you may cry "they are just so hard to not look at!"

Get some self control and stop thinking with your pants. If you are unable to do this, I am willing to slap you into reality for free. If, for some reason, that doesn't help, I suggest some therapy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Clarifications

So, apparently I need to blatantly state things.

1. When I wrote that lovely rant which is getting "Hell yeah!"s and "You bitch!"s (and nothing in between) I was not mad at my peers. No, I was mad at their ignorance, at society for allowing them to be ignorant, at society encouraging them to be ignorant. I was mad at the institution. I genuinely believed that my peers were simply misinformed. It was not pointed at any single person or action, but rather was the explosion of my frustration. Granted, what I wrote was not the most civil thing on the planet, but it made people think (at least, I hope).

That being said, some took it as a blatant attack on them, which if they felt guilty and realized I was calling them out, then I hope they understand that I was, even if it wasn't originally directed at them.

There was one comment that I received from a peer with regards to this previous post, that I think needs to be expanded upon.

This peer, after reassurance that I wasn't mad at them, stated that all feminists are "femnazi bitches who never get laid." Excuse me?

Let's disect this assessment by my peer to understand why I am now mad at them!

First of all, it's a whopping generalization. While some generalizations help us as humans understand information (such as, women have long hair) it does not make them correct (because I know plenty of men who have long hair, and plenty of women who have short hair). Does this mean that no one fits the generalization? Absolutely not. The problem arises when it goes from someone specific to a mass population. In the case of my peer, I think he meant that I was a femnazi bitch who never gets laid, not the masses of feminists. But, society has taught people that "feminists" are the women who hate men, refuse to be "feminine", for some value of feminine, and apparently hate sex. Who knew!

Let's move on to another problem with his assessment: femnazi. What does that even mean? That I'm nazi like because I demand human decency? Umm...news flash, I think that's kinda sorta nothing like being a nazi. By pointing out how your actions can cause direct harm to others, I'm not harming anyone. If you feel guilt from me pointing it out, that's because you've done something wrong, not because I'm some "femnazi".

Which brings me to the word "bitch". This word and it's use, especially by people like my peer in the context provided, it one of the many reasons feminism needs to exist. I am not a "bitch" for pointing out facts. No person is "bitchy" for requesting to be treated like a human. I do not belong to anyone and no person should own another. The use of the word it degrading, saying that I'm sub human, supposedly for being female, and apparently, for asking to be treated as the human that I am.

As for feminists never getting laid, well, I think this peer is misinformed. Feminists are in relationships all the time and can totally sex it up whenever they wish. I personally think this was his reasoning for feminists being so "bitchy" and total "femnazis", because, you know, not having sex totally makes every person RAGE all the time.

2. If you confront me about my blog in meatspace, I will probably not flat out tell you that I'm the author. I request a safety bubble, a place to rant and rave and not be judged. Sure, you can leave comments or tell me how shitty I am in person. I reserve the right to ignore you or write a post that mentions the thoughtless and reckless stuff you say.

I reserve the right to take any and all crap that comes my way that I want to, because I personally have to deal with it on a day by day basis. If you have a problem with how I handle it, leave, or find a better way to handle it yourself, because I get to handle all the shit the world throws at me on my terms.

3. If you haven't noticed, I'm not that great at telling people when I have a problem with the way they act. This comes from many bad reactions to me telling someone offhanded that they're being a threatening jerk, to their face, and getting screamed at. So, I'm sorry if I have to tell you you're a threatening jerk through text, but I'm tired of getting screamed at and having people becoming more threatening in a face to face encounter. I'm tired of trying to inform people that "you frankly creep me out and terrify me" in a nice way, because that's how they want to receive it. There is no nice way to tell you. Wondering why no one told you before? It's because you frankly creep everyone out and terrify them and no one wants to tell you because they're scared you'll become more threatening when they tell you because you'll get all defensive. And you do get defensive. Not just sorta defensive, but the "Holy shit. RUN!" defensive, the kind of defensive that makes people terrified of you in the first place.

The other reason I personally refuse to tell people to their faces in the heat of the moment, is that I nervous that I'm the only one who sees it. Being surrounded my males most my life, I've aways been told that I'm too sensitive, so I constantly wonder if I'm misreading the signals. As I've been finding out lately, I'm not misreading much, but I always like to confer with others that my gut is correct and maybe pick up on other possible meanings.

I'm sure there's lots I've missed, much to be added, and much more to be revised, but it's a start.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fume No. 1

Hello, and welcome to my fumes. I would, at this point in time, like to address the group of people who are known as my “peers” and inform them that they are insensitive, pigheaded asswipe jerk wads through the use of statistics, logic, and reason.

Said peers think rape jokes are hilarious. I argue that they aren’t, but apparently I “don’t get it” because I’m “female”.

I will be going through the statistics from two sites, RAINN and darknesstolight. I will wrongly be assuming gender binaries and will be going through 4 different ways (two for each set of statistics) to explain how you, my peers, that you are fucking idiots.

Let’s start with RAINN’s statistics. From there, we see that 1 in 6 women is raped in her life time. Now, I know it’s hard for you to imagine all the women in your life, so please pull up facebook or equivalent and look at all the females who you consider friends. If none of them have told you about being raped, there two possibilities. 1. None of them have been raped 2. They have been raped, and have chosen not to tell you because you are the one who “does not get it”. Why share something about yourself with someone who will just mock you?

So, back to the statistics, let’s assume that we’re in a classroom, before class. For the hell of it, let’s say this room seats about 120 people, and about 40 of people are women. The probability that no woman in that room has been raped is (5/6)^40, or about .068%. This means that the probability that at least one woman in that room has been raped is 99.93%. By making a rape joke, there is a 99.93% chance that a female rape survivor, your peer, is hearing you and might be triggered. That’s a mighty large risk you’re pulling, there.

Now, let’s look at the “man statistics”. RAINN states that 1 out of 33 men will be raped in their lifetime. Don’t fucking start with me that men “can’t be raped”. Using the same idea, the probability that there are no men in the room who are rape survivors is (32/33)^80, or 8.53%. This means the probability of at least one male in the class having been raped is 91.47%, which is again, a very large probability that you are triggering one of you “male bros”, a rape survivor.

Ignoring how “funny” you think something is, you are inconsiderate of your fellow peer’s right to learn, since they are now spending the entire class period being triggered. (If they are somehow strong enough to not be triggered to your stupidity, then more power to them)

Now let’s use the other set of statistics. Darknesstolight states that 1 in 4 women have been raped by the time they’re 18 and 1 in 6 men for the same time frame. Using the mighty power of statistics, this means that there is a 99.99899% chance you are triggering a female rape survivor and a 99.99995% chance you are triggering a male rape survivor.

Now, let’s take these statistics and figure out the likelyhood that you’re triggering at least one person in the room. Using RAINN’s statistics, (formula: 100% - (probability of not triggering a female) * (probability of not triggering a male)) there is a whopping 99.94% chance (using RAINN’S stats) to 99.9999999495% chance (using Darknesstolight’s statistics) that you are triggering at least one person in this hypothetical room.

Way to go, jerk.

Sources:
RAINN
Darknesstolight