cynthia1960: (Down with patriarchy)
When I was checking email this morning, I saw a mention by Salon.com's Katie McDonough about yet another article telling college-educated women that they should snag their man while still in school otherwise they're doomed to spinsterhood. As I roll my eyes at this timeworn set of heterosexist patriarchy-sustaining platitudes that "Princeton Mom" trots out, you gentle readers may note that I have utterly failed to follow her advice. In the almost thirty-two years since I graduated, I have spent exactly one single month in the wedded state, and that milestone doesn't officially happen until this Sunday the 16th. Never let it be said that I rushed into this particular life-changing choice!

There was a running joke back in the day at my beloved alma mater that you're supposed to find your one true love there, take Theology of Marriage your senior year, and then approximately eighteen months after graduation, get married in Mission Santa Clara. Besides the fact that the Jesuit who was teaching that course ended up leaving the Society of Jesus a few years later on to get married (focusing on the lab section, not the lecture!), there was *no freaking way* I was going to replace needed chemistry labs with that course.

My beloved spousal unit noted to me over dinner this evening that it probably would be a very good thing for "Princeton Mom" never to run into yours truly in a dark alley, upon which I noted that if I had just one bullet and ran into both her and He Who Must Not Be Named, she would get off easy.

Now, I'm going to be charitable and say that probably there has been a lot of relationships featuring members of the SCU class of '82 that started off while we were in school that are still going strong. I will even note (gasp!) that my Evil College Boyfriend may actually have become a decent spouse for the someone else he left me for, but that I really don't have the time or spoons to find that tidbit out. All I know is that if I had taken her advice, and married that young man that I did share a lot of background in common, it would have been an utter disaster for me and I sure as hell would be living a much different life than I have right now (my cynical self says that I would be probably be either divorced or doing time for ridding the planet of him).

Le sigh.
cynthia1960: (steampunksuffrage)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k asks When you realized that your work would find you in male dominated milieux, did that influence what you did or how you did it?

When I was little, I was absolutely fascinated by astronomy. Chemistry came into my life not much later when I was wondering what the stars were made out of. When I was in 9th grade, I was dabbling in theater arts and getting A’s in science. I kept getting cast as middle aged or elderly women at the age of 14, and I never could be the ingenue. Of course, I could raid my great-grandmother’s closet for my characters’ wardrobes, but I looked at my type casting and my grades in science, and then went, “Cindy, don’t quit your day job!” My high school was exceptionally good in science and math, and my physics teacher was very keen on getting the girls in her classes to focus on STEM careers. I was able to work at NASA Ames in Mountain View as both a senior in high school and a senior in college.

The gender imbalance wasn’t so acute in high school because my closest girlfriends and I were pretty much science geeks together. By the time I got to Santa Clara, I declared my chemistry major right away and just kept plugging along. I never got any flak from the chemistry faculty about how girls don’t major in chem, but one of my friends got a major sexist slap down from one of the physics professors about how girls don’t do physics (GRRRR, he was a grade A jerk).

There were four girls majoring in chem in my year, and three out of the four of us graduated cum laude (only one guy was with us, and the 4th girl wasn’t far behind us).

My only question was whether or not I was going to go to graduate school in chemistry, and by the time I finished my senior thesis with my second tour at Ames, I pretty much had gotten tired of academia and didn’t really have the necessary drive to do research. Soooo, that meant looking for a job, and I got a job in the semiconductor industry right out of school (which incidentally paid a lot better than pharmaceuticals if you had a BS degree thirty years ago). I started off doing benchtop quality control testing on the chemicals and plastics used in wafer fabs and chip assembly, and then switched into materials characterization and microscopy where I still am today. Some of the meetings I was in at my old company, I was at least 33% of the XX chromosome cohort. My current company is probably split 60/40 M/F, but that’s probably damn good for around here in Silicon Valley.

I’m pretty happy because my work focuses on doing good materials characterization to help others improve their products. My primary job is making samples for transmission electron microscopy and the quality of the pictures that my imaging co-workers take are only as good as the samples that those of us in the sample prep group make. If I do a really good job, we can see the atomic lattice at 400,000X, which rocks. And I still keep my hand in surface contamination analysis by bouncing X-rays off of shiny wafers part of the time.
cynthia1960: (Down with patriarchy)
Trigger warning for fatphobia:

[personal profile] whump brought today's poor excuse for an April Fool's joke perpetrated by one of his long time acquaintances to my attention. As I've had time to think about this so-called attempt at humor, I've also had to deal with some personal triggers having to do with fatphobia and Wiscon. Five years ago, I was one of the Wiscon attendees that was targeted by a trolling attack directed primarily at those of us who are fat.

Flash forward to today, and the article screencapped by [personal profile] whump and others brought up a whole lot of memories. When I think back to the Wiscon 32 incident, I felt a bit of compassion for the troll, but today I really don't have any to spare for (redacted). I've seen several folks targeted by his Islamophobia speak out with eloquence and power, but I want to address the misogyny and fatphobia directly.

When he used the name of a historical serial killer as an alias for the con chairs, he directly insulted several people who I've been honored to meet over the last few years through my participation in Wiscon. Then he added a festering pile of snark directed at "sinful, wanton flesh" that needed to be covered up and made invisible with the so-called intention of dealing with lookism and adding the Islamophobic trimmings as a really nasty additive.

He's telling me that I need to cover up my body and silence my voice, and he used the primary newsmagazine covering the speculative fiction field as his medium to spread this message in the guise of a joke. And then, when many members of the community as well as others not as invested in it called the magazine's attention to this post (which has been taken down with an apology), he then managed to flounce on his blog and cry censorship by humorless feminists.

This person is coming from an even more privileged situation than the Wiscon 32 troll (age, gender, etc.) so I have no inclination to cut him any slack whatsoever, especially because he seems to be playing the "oh noes the meen wimmin are harshing my fun" card.
cynthia1960: (Down with patriarchy)
By way of [personal profile] supergee and Geek Feminism, a new hero of mine subverts a dominant paradigm with her little brother.

I bow humbly in admiration at her mad feminist skillz, and say to her little brother, "we accept you, we accept you, one of us!"
cynthia1960: me from Wiscon Chronicles v. 3 (Default)
Probably a lot of you may have seen this already on the twitters, but I'm blogging this essay here for a placeholder. I really liked this movie, and will want to watch it again.
cynthia1960: (religion and politics)
Ok, I couldn't resist clicking on the link on sfgate.com that said "Oh daring, oh fiery wenches of God!" because I knew I was in for a bit of tasty fun from Mark Morford.

Sister John Marie of blessed memory is probably up there chuckling.
cynthia1960: (Down with patriarchy)
By way of Kate Harding on Twitter, and [personal profile] whump's making sure I got to see it as soon as I was reasonably awake and coherent, I bring you:

Ann Friedman's contribution to the celebration
cynthia1960: (Down with patriarchy)
linkspam for me to come back to time and again when I need to get my anger properly directed at targets

Sinfest nails it when it comes to the ubiquity of patriarchy. (thanks to @nkjemisin on twitter)

also: We are the 99 Percent

And Elizabeth Warren tells it like it is.

Also thanks to [personal profile] pegkerr who is posting lots of good stuff about the #occupy(insert $CAPITALISTSTRONGHOLD of choice) movement.
cynthia1960: (chemistry)
I want to send out a heartfelt muito obrigado for today's Wednesday Geek Woman post on Branca Edmée Marques. She was a Portuguese chemist who collaborated with Marie Curie. Now, I need to see how much of the Portuguese language links I can try to understand without resorting to babelfish.
cynthia1960: (religion and politics)
Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown has some sage words about bravery and St. Joan of Arc.

Not that my homegrrl Clare of Assisi fails to rock, she truly does (patroness of my university (which came in handy during finals for sure), the Valley where I thrive, television), but there's something to be said for Jehanne d'Arc, who Doyle says is the unofficial patron saint of "victims of gender policing, people and especially women who come out of nowhere to exercise political voice and/or get violently assaulted or killed for their political action, ..., lapsed Catholic women, women who have huge-ass troubles with the sexism of Catholics, and feminism."

Sounds like a good one to have around for backup. Jehanne, keep Gabrielle Giffords in your prayers.

ETA to thank [personal profile] wired for the link via twitter.
cynthia1960: (feminist hulk smash capitalism)
OMGWTFBBQ

Geek Feminism finds a colossal pile of gender essentialist fail perpetrated by an marketing executive at My Former Company (a woman, which just shows that this particular fail gene is not Y-chromosome linked).

I spent over *twenty* years at that place. If this is the prevailing attitude in 2010, imagine what it was like for women during my tenure there ('82-'03).

Remind me to thank Goddess I'm out of there, remind me how shitty my mood was when I got home (don't talk to me for at least 1 hour), and pray that the next generation of geek feminists smashes this attitude to nanoscale bits.
cynthia1960: me from Wiscon Chronicles v. 3 (Default)
I'm interested in exploring spiritual practices that aren't steeped in patriarchy. Want to be on the filter? Comments screened.
cynthia1960: me from Wiscon Chronicles v. 3 (Default)
Yesterday's post about my issues with Facebook/Google Buzz got me thinking yet again about the use of pseudonymous usernames and compartmentalizing segments of my life. This started last year as a outgrowth of one of the #racefail'09 discussions and a panel at WisCon 33, and continued on with the recent LJ controversy about making people work within a binary concept of gender.

Now, Mary at Geek Feminism points us to a triggery yet vital discussion about how Google Buzz impacts a blogger who is dealing with the aftermath of rape and intimate partner violence. [personal profile] whump told me about this over dinner yesterday evening, but the post makes it more starkly clear. Keeping things compartmentalized and locked down is more than just data management and the ability to balance various aspects of our lives, it can be a way to survive.

We don't live in Brin's transparent society. Transparency only works when there's no disparity in power or privilege. As long as there's an imbalance in power based on gender, sexual orientation, class, race, etc. ad infinitum, complete transparency can allow persons with power to inflict all sorts of negative consequences on those who don't have it.

The ability to control access to personal identification on social networks also operates within a broad spectrum. When I'm on Ravelry, I don't mind seeing various ads for yarn and fiber, and sometimes I'll even follow the ads to possible new lovely fibery goodness. Ravelry exercises a lot of control over what kind of ads are allowed. Contrast this with what's going on within Facebook/Google Buzz/LJ advertising. Say you're female on most networks, and you'll get barraged with all sorts of craptastic ads about looking younger and losing weight, just to name a few of them.

Don't forget, people want access to our personal information on social networks so they can make money selling us stuff. Responsible social networks take care to collect only the most useful information, as Sarah Dopp points out in her recent post about use of drop down menus for information on gender. They also allow their users to exercise control on the amount of information that can be shared. The post from Geek Feminism shows us what can happen when there's a lack of discretion or controls. Put people in harm's way just so you can sell more ads, DO NOT WANT!

It's also salutary to investigate the hidden and not so hidden assumptions in what is the unmarked state for the types of personal information collected. Is there a default of male/white/middle class/heterosexual/cisgendered/American? Going back to Ravelry for some less triggery examples (which is one of the networks that seems to be doing many things right), what's their unmarked state for gender/class/national origin and how does it affect the advertising they allow?
cynthia1960: (Down with patriarchy)
I managed to miss almost all of the Super Bowl commercials this year, but have read various blog posts (a couple of memorable rants from [livejournal.com profile] fengi with links to other awesome smackdowns) about the rampant misogyny. Broadsheet points us to a parody that nails one of the more repugnant commericals.

ETA to add links to some righteous rantage complete with understandable use of bad language
cynthia1960: me from Wiscon Chronicles v. 3 (Default)
Today is Ursula Kroeber LeGuin's eightieth birthday, and also the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Left Hand of Darkness.

I came across the Earthsea books at least thirty-five years ago (the actual date is rusty) at my local library and was never quite the same after that. Besides Left Hand and the Earthsea books, the LeGuin books that continue to rock my world with every re-read are The Dispossessed and Always Coming Home.

It was very important to me that Potlatch 18 (in Sunnyvale, CA earlier this year) honored Always Coming Home as one of its books of honor this year, because that book captures the physical reality and spirit of Northern California. Having Ursula there as part of the con made it even more special to me, because it was an opportunity to honor and thank somebody who created a special book while she is still here to hear it.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Ursula. May we have the blessing of your presence for years to come.
cynthia1960: (unprintable!)
Dr. George Tiller is a victim of terrorism, plain and simple.

I'm only going to begin to believe that the US government is serious about terrorism when they go after Scott Roeder and the institutions that aid and abet his violence with at least the same vigor that they direct at al Qaeda and the Taliban. Frankly, I'm far more afraid of Roeder and his ilk.

Here's a link to Shapely Prose's collection of links.

Also, Medical Students for Choice is a good place to send some money if you're so inclined.

Hat tip to all of those on my flist/reading list that are posting eloquent stuff; I just don't have the words right now to add to them.
cynthia1960: (Down with patriarchy)
I just sent this to Women Against Sarah Palin:

If it was imperative for McCain to choose a woman as his running mate, there are certainly many more qualified Republican women available. I knew enough already about Palin’s record in Alaska when the announcement was made to know that she is a extremely bad choice for Vice President. As I learn more about her, that feeling just gets reinforced. Learning that rape victims were charged for the evidence kits needed to prosecute their attackers while she was mayor of Wasilla enrages me. Because the Alaskan legislature had to take action to outlaw this travesty of justice, I cannot believe that she was unaware of this policy while she was mayor. For McCain to assert that she is his best choice sends two messages, the first that justice is contingent on your ability to pay for it, and the second is that his own judgment is seriously lacking.

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