a new twitter account for my thoughts n' taste

I have a weird relationship with Twitter.

So the obvious: it’s amazing for finding out what’s happening, what people are talking about. I love the rawness of it, especially when you can read how people are reacting to things in real time and you see their opinion or thoughts evolve in front of you. I learn so much from interacting with people that I otherwise probably wouldn’t even have known existed.

But man it stresses me out. Sometimes reading my main timeline is like going to a giant room with a fascinating party filled the world’s best journalists, activists, writers, academics, AND your friends, all speaking at the same time, with well-written long-form news reports being broadcast from speakers, AND art+culture+tech magazines being beautifully displayed on the walls. It’s too much at once. I have to be on it for work to find out what’s happening in my realm of copyright and innovation policy, so I tend to take breaks from it over the weekend.

The other exhausting part of it is the “personal brand” thing. For my workier account, I want to maintain my professional voice. The part of me that wants to educate and get people to share the same anger/delight/curiosity that I have for the happenings that I see. It’s the part of me that has no patience for bad journalism, bad grammar, and uninsightful comments. I want to be put together, accurate, and authoritative.

But that’s not all me. I think stupid (but awesome?) mundane stuff too. There’s music I want to share, opinions about art or esthetics or even the fucking weather if I so please. If I’m suddenly inspired to write a haiku about that moment I had with a stranger on the Muni, or about that funky but delicious smell, where do I put that? For me that doesn’t jive with @Maira, the character that I have up there.

So yeah, I made another account.

It’s not because that side of me is a secret or I’m ashamed of it at all. It’s just that I don’t wanna impose these thoughts on people who follow my other one who don’t give a shit about this other stuff. I totally don’t blame them. I guess it’s my way of not contributing to that thing about Twitter that stresses me out the most, that awesome-fascinating-clusterfuck-party part. I want to help people follow the conversations that they care about, and if that means I just have to have another account that lets my spew my pointless thoughts, thazz okay. I’m still not completely used to letting my thoughts drivel on to this new one but I’m working on it.

embracing this thing called feminism (AKA: i've been a twit for too long)

I was at a meeting last week in Port Dickson, Malaysia on “Gender, Sexuality, and the Internet.” The goal of this meeting was to come out with principles for a feminist internet, and around 40+ women were flown from around the world, mostly from the global south, to hammer out a starting framework for what that would look like. It was an incredibly honest, productive conversation that took place over 5 days. It was one of the most intellectually demanding AND rewarding conferences I’ve ever been to, and by the end of the week, I had immense love and respect for everyone who was there.

GenderSexInternet Working Group

The thing is…I had a bit of cold feet before the meeting. Mostly, it’s my continued awkwardness around the word “feminism.” For a long time, I’ve carried some significant personal critiques about the name for this movement (which I will go into in another blog post). It was with these criticisms that I was able to justify my lack of engagement or even discussion of gender and sexual inequalities that are found in almost every facet of social relations.

But I realized last week that was a total bullshit cop-out on my part. I realized, after some considerable self-reflection, that I was taking comfort in the privileged upbringing I had not to talk about or even acknowledge sexism as a discernible fact in our institutions and in our day-to-day interactions.

Whether or not I actually did face it, I never felt wronged or disadvantaged because of my sex and gender identity. I continued to live my life from bubble to bubble, in places where there was both an acute awareness of gender, but was occupied by strong role models who were women or identified as GLBT—in my family, my schools, and all the offices where I’ve worked. In those spaces, sexism and heteronormativity didn’t present itself as a glaring injustice.

Whenever I faced a circumstance where I felt threatened by someone, whether in a long-term, not-so-long-term, or random sudden situation, I dealt with it and moved on. Even though I’d heard the statistics, knew that sexual abuse wasn’t just these one-off things, I went on convinced that it was just something wrong with those particular people. When it was my dear friends who were targeted—and too often, the same ones again and again—I was annoyed that they didn’t stand up for themselves, that they would get themselves in these situations in the first place by letting those toxic people in their lives. I even remember saying things like we weren’t alone, that millions of women face horrible sexual abuse every day. But the way I said it, it was almost like I was suggesting it was an unavoidable aspect of our society.

Yes. I was totally. Clueless. And the worst part about it was that I’ve been willfully so. This makes no sense because I fucking politicize everything around me. If I made any effort, I could see power and structural injustice in almost anything. But sex and gender? Ooh, it was just too exhausting to go there.

Another major way I justified disengagement was that I was convinced I was working on “bigger” issues. I wanted to think about our political economy, about how we’re screwing the commons, about why and how democracy is broken and what we can do to fix it. I truly thought sexism wasn’t “my fight” and that having to think about and address those issues was beyond the capacity of my work.

** Please know that I am sincerely ashamed of all of this. **

Attending this conference forced me to face my own ridiculous, lazy, justifications for why I hadn’t confronted the deep horrible fact of institutionalized, socialized forms of sexism. Of course it was uncomfortable for me to come to terms with it, and I had to get over my damn ego to accept it. Hearing the work that the other participants are doing around the world—empowering women’s economic autonomy through the internet, giving various kinds of support to sex workers, providing young queer kids a loving community, and working towards having sexual orientation and gender identity recognized as another variable to human rights abuses in international law…it was this kind of work, this pragmatic, direct form of feminist practice that shook me out of my willful disregard.

I now feel dutifully obligated to do more to address this issue in a way that I never have before. I’m completely at a loss for what that entails, and what I can do to personally add to this feminist movement…but that’s okay. I know that’ll take some thinking. In the meantime, I really need to come to terms with what “feminism” even means. As I said before I still have problems with calling myself a feminist, even though by it’s best, most inclusive definition, I should consider myself one big ragin’ one.

The next thing I write about this is gonna tackle that. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated.

tablet drawing practice.

I got to spend some time this weekend practicin’ my digital drawing skills. My buddy Yana and I had talked about drawing together, so we finally met up and spent a lil while getting our hands more in tune with our wacom tablets. We both love drawing but never make the time to do it, and having to wipe the dust collected on our tools certainly made this neglect ever more glaring.

We went online and found a super simple exercise to train our brains to deal with the separation between the “pen” and the values and objects captured on the screen. It was to draw squiggles—consistently formed, evenly spaced out squiggles. These are some of my scratch documents that I saved since it ended up looking sort of cool by the end.

doodles_2

To change it up, I then made each squiggle a different color. OoOOooo, rainbowwww~

color_doodles

So we did that for a while until we got bored and started working on drawing from photographs we’d each taken. I just finished mine, which is a photo of Lake Merritt at dusk that my friend Susan took. (It’s a pretty big image and it might look better if you click to expand).

Lake_Merritt_Drawing_fnl

I’m happy how it turned out. I wanted to spend more time on making the water reflection better and putting more details on the buildings but… whateva.