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a reason I love internet feminism so much

January 27, 2010

Last week it was A Rant About Women and the backlash. This week it’s various posts about mansplaining. Next week who knows. Through it all there’s Isis the Scientist and Melissa at Shakesville insisting that women should blog about shoes if they want to, and the folks at Geek Feminism discussing what it’s like to be a woman in tech and dreaming of a better world.

In short, I read a lot of feminist thought online. I do it for a lot of reasons. I’m learning a lot about feminism and even more about intersectionality, because these blogs and the ones they link to are not simply feminist blogs. I do it because they’re entertaining. I do it because it’s not work, which is all the reason one needs sometimes.
And on nights like tonight, I do it because I need their support.
I presented my conference talk at group meeting. I was in a wonderfully anxious state, but the sudden arrival of pizza calmed me down enough to get through it alright. Then came the hour of critique. Now, it was good, don’t get me wrong. All of it was constructive critism, and I needed the advice and perspective. But it was an hour. I was in a high anxiety state, and I sat for an hour while people told me that I’d spelled this word wrong, and my axis labels weren’t big enough, and I’d explained that wrong or not clearly. I left with several pages of notes on what to fix, and a promise from Ara for a one on one meeting to go through it all more carefully tomorrow. Went to my office and planned a repeat performance for the Janda research group next week. Because volunteering for another hour like that was a fun idea…yeah. By the time I got on my bike to go home, I was surprised I had the mental energy to tell my legs to turn the pedals.
I came home to my feminist blogs. I stopped by Shakesville just to see, ’cause they usually cheer me up, and sure enough there was interesting new stuff to read, and links to follow to more stories and even more links. And the theme, throughout it all, is people trying to help women learn to trust themselves, and people trying to figure out how to get men to shut up and give women a chance (tonight’s reading was some of the mansplaining posts I liked to above). This is such a common theme, “Women are more awesome than they often get credit for” that I wouldn’t have even noticed it, except tonight I really needed the boost. I needed women saying that they’re in acadamia and its hard for them too. I needed people saying that it shouldn’t be only our problem, and I needed men standing up and saying that yes they would like to help make it easier. I needed that shot in the arm that, while sometimes I don’t have the ego to do this, I’m hardly the only one. I don’t have the ego to do this, but maybe someday I will. And I needed advice and tips about how to get there.

This is part of why I love the feminist blogosphere so much. There is a devoted group of people out there who are interested in anaylising these things, and working to make it better. It’s there, and it’s growing every day, and the power of being connected to that group gives me energy to keep going on nights like tonight when I really feel like I can’t take the ego circus of academia any more.

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