Where have I been? Waiting for the new monitor I need because the building I live in was hit by a power surge. To say this “waiting for computer parts” thing has gotten old is an understatement.
Last week Amazon claimed the new monitor would be delivered early this week. Now Amazon says it’s coming next week. Had I known that would be the case I’d have ordered the “slower” Viewsonic as opposed to the adequate but not really graphics grade Acer. Count this as another frustration.
I so want to tell everyone here where they can take a peek at the websites, so that some other human can reassure me that the websites exist and I have not been plunged into computer hell where I will hallucinate hardware crashes for the rest of eternity. But that’s too stupid even for frustrated me to do right now. They will be attacked in every possible way the moment they are online, and I am sure that they’d flunk even a minimal security audit right now. In fact the last I saw of one of them I’d managed to crash it (a database update issue, which is not a rare problem for anyone who has built and maintained complex self hosted WordPress/BuddyPress sites. It was late at night, I was tired, and I thought I’d have a monitor to turn on the next day when I’d fix it.)
If this was any other site it would be in beta right now. If this was any other site I wouldn’t still be scratching my head trying to figure out how on earth I can conceal originating mail IP addresses without getting identified as a spammer (and without getting a dedicated mail server and relaying through it while stripping the web IP address at the firewall, because I can’t afford another server out of pocket. If I can’t figure any of this out I’ll just turn off anything that sends from the webserver and make do without for the time being.) That’s another frustrating thing. A live site collects donations and funds upgrades. A dead site collects bills to pay out of pocket.
There’s yet another thing that’s crossed my mind. As a little girl in the early 1960s I talked about wanting a career in space science and technology. When it became clear to adults that I would not be deterred with the usual counteroffers of “wife and mother”, ” teacher”, or “nurse”, my older cousin, who worked as a physicist at one of the national laboratories, took me aside to explain to me that girls didn’t belong in science and engineering. But women could go into computing, he said. It was, at the time of my talking to, seen as a field in a support role to the scientists (male) and engineers (male) and occasionally businessmen (male) who used the data brought to them by programmers, who, natch, could be female. They could probably bring a cup of coffee when they brought the output, too.
I was still undeterred. It took a few years of being the only woman in hundreds-strong lecture classes, and pulling in very poor grades, before I was driven out. It’s a myth that testing in the hard sciences has been a simple yes-no right-wrong factual affair (at least not before budget cuts and computer scoring invited such simplistic testing.) The questions were complex problems where few students could give anything but partial answers, as much essay as mathematics, in the time allotted. That leaves a lot of room for the subjective observation that women just aren’t up to the high standards set by the male students, if that’s what you are inclined to observe. All that crap, plus the growing understanding that everything I could do with a degree amounted to military research, one way or another, did it. So I got shuffled off into computing for a while, left it, and then found myself back into it when women’s work progressed to create the modern internet (I know of no numbers but I suspect most websites on the net are still the work of women to this day, despite having become men’s work.)
I am by the way in awe of women around my age or older who made it in one of the hard sciences or engineering. I know firsthand what it was like then. They had to be tough as nails (tough enough to ignore opening lectures by a professor about how women didn’t belong in his engineering-track calculus course, for one of so many personal experiences I wouldn’t begin to be able to list them), and they had to be so many times more brilliant than the men around them that they could not have been graded down enough to keep them out of grad school (or they had to go to a woman’s college where they could just learn, which can’t be done anymore because women need to be made more unequal so that men can be given the same access to women’s spaces, minds and bodies that those women themselves have to their own spaces minds and bodies. It’s equality, ya know).
And of course they had to be content to do the unimportant research left for them by men, where as usual they did brilliant things only to have their work ripped out of their hands when it became “important” One example: it was a woman who discovered the large scale structures of the universe and the necessary existence of dark matter — two shocking discoveries that are at the center of research today. This was largely because galactic motion was not an important thing for men to study — they already knew what the answer had to be, when an upstart woman in cahoots with the actual universe ruined it for them.
Vera Rubin is still alive, by the way. She is almost entirely unknown, even as male physicists babble on in the media limelight about galaxy clusters, the structure of the universe, and the nature of dark matter. What’s more, at 89, it appears all but certain she will never need to compose any pesky Nobel acceptance speeches. While her work was turning our view of the cosmos upside down, a couple of male engineers, who thought the hiss in their antenna was birdshit until someone suggested they call the local physics department, won the Nobel prize for discovering the (expected) cosmic background radiation.
Lesbian culture and modern computing have much in common. They are, like so many other things before them, something frustrated women did when they couldn’t, say, explore Mars, or destroy patriarchy outright. Now men want it because we made something amazing and wonderful of that unimportant bit of women’s work they had ignored. They took computing because Ada Lovelace invented the algorithm for them, and Grace Hopper made it easy by developing higher order computer languages for them, and lots of other mostly obscure women, most of whom would rather have done something else, poured their hearts and minds into it until it became a powerful tool anyone could use and most anyone in an industrial society could access. And now, since many brilliant lesbians made lesbian culture because they were explicitly uninvited to join the “serious” job of creating “real” (male dominated) culture, men want lesbian identity and lesbian culture too. In the case of lesbian culture they can’t find any way to gracefully fit themselves into it, being as it was designed to not fit them. But they can always destroy it, which, as they dance on the grave of Michfest and shuffle young dykes to the sex change doctors, they hope they have achieved.
To assist them in their quest to become the male lesbians they most certainly are not, I want to share with them the one quintessentially female thing I have right now in spades, the secret sauce to women’s creativity. It’s a girl thing, guys: frustration. Experience it.
And now I’ll go check Amazon yet again, to see again when the damned monitor will get here. I have some men to frustrate.