I will share the hashtag later!
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When the ad for this popped up on my Facebook news feed, I didn’t hesitate before clicking it. It may be the first ad I have ever followed from Facebook. I can’t specifically remember ever doing that before. But this one caught my attention and I clicked without thinking, fully expecting it to be a joke. It seems like the kind of thing ThinkGeek would offer on April 1st. Turns out, it’s real. I seriously don’t know what to think about the Tampon-shaped USB drive (with different sizes coded according to heaviness of “flow”). I really need more time to ruminate on it but I felt it warranted immediate blogging to see what other people thought.
On one hand, based on cultural discomfort with anything related to menstruation, I’d guess that this is probably pretty secure when left unattended in one’s bag. Nobody’s going to steal what they think is a tampon. On the other hand…I’m having incoherent thoughts about cyborgs, hyper-personal data, the abject, negative associations with transvaginal ultrasounds…I’m distracted by the image of the “tampon” in the USB drive, suggesting a parallel between a USB port and a vagina…I’m imagining oppositional uses of it where its very existence causes discomfort in the people around me…I’m also wondering why an 8gb flash drive, which one can get for less than $20 at Fry’s, costs $55 when it is in encased in a “feminine hygiene product” shaped shell? Who will buy it? All of these jumbled thoughts are happening pretty much at once. If I ever get them sorted out, I’ll get back to you.
According to the product manufacturer, Meninos,
“Our design is aimed at people with modern and bold lifestyle, which enjoy innovation and cultivate the forever young spirit. Funny, geek, vintage, technological…”
So I guess this falls under the umbrella of “funny” and “technological”? I don’t know what the equivalent male product would be to turn into a flash drive, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t be as “funny.”
Also, I wonder what about my Facebook profile suggested that I would be interested in this product? As I indicated above, I’m not sure I’ve ever followed an ad link from Facebook before this, which indicates they are usually pretty far from the mark.
While I don’t foresee myself buying the tampon usb drive any time soon, I have to admit that considering its existence is an interesting intellectual challenge. I don’t know whether to laugh or shake my head. Maybe both?
I was saddened last night to read of the death of Adrienne Rich. This NYT obituary nicely outlines the role of feminism in her poetry while this one from The Washington Post focuses more on her political writing and actions.
Rich is the author of my two most favorite poems, both from her collection The Dream of a Common Language. I was looking around for the text of the poems to tweet and share with my students and found myself really frustrated. The online versions I was finding did not preserve the spacing that was so important to the works. So I decided to see if I could do better and if so, to post them here.
At first I planned to justify posting them here by arguing that honoring a feminist poet through the technological means at my disposal makes them fit into the themes of the blog. Then I realized, the content of both poems ties in. They are both about pioneering women and the complex relationship between power, gender, and collectives of women (shared histories and experiences). I have been looking forward to the day that my nieces (currently 9 and 8 years old) are old enough for me to share these with them. I’ll post them here and hope that you draw as much inspiration from them as I do.
Living in the earth deposits of our history
Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
til she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil
She died a famous woman denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power
“PHANTASIA FOR ELVIRA SHATAYEV”
(leader of a women’s climbing team, all of whom died in a storm on Lenin Peak, August 1974. Later, Shatayev’s husband found and burned the bodies.) (more…)
02:52. That is all the time it takes for UCLA political science major Alexandra Wallace to alienate and offend, expose her own ignorance, and pretty much put an end to her prestigious UCLA education. Wallace accomplishes all of this in her video “Asians in the Library,” initially posted to YouTube on March 11, 2011. The video is commonly labeled a “racist rant” which suggests that she turned on her webcam and, in the heat of the moment, let the hate flow. However, there is clear evidence that someone took the time to edit the video and an article from The Sacramento Bee quotes her father as saying that she was planning to purchase a domain name to support the video’s distribution . While this does not mean that the video isn’t technically a rant, it is important to recognize that this was not the rash outburst of a young woman with no sense of how the internet and publicity operate. Wallace did not assume she was safely anonymous among the noise of the Internet. Rather, if her father is to be believed, she sought publicity and intended to use the video to launch her career. In my opinion, the evidence of forethought and planning makes the video even more egregious.
What she clearly did not plan was the overwhelmingly negative response. Dreaming of a career as a video blogger, she expected neither death threats, nor the exposure of her personal information, nor to be ostracized on campus. Her official apology, printed in The Daily Bruin on March 14, indicates that if she could take the video back, she would. Questions of her sincerity aside, it is clear that the Internet remains unsatisfied. New video responses continue to appear on YouTube almost three weeks after her official apology.
As a researcher who is writing about viral structures, and an educator in a program in Emerging Media and Communication at UT Dallas, I have been watching the debacle with interest. The video provides a valuable opening to discuss ongoing issues of racism and the insufficiency of strategies of “color blindness” in U.S. culture. It is also a concrete lesson on the uncontrollable and long term consequences of our online actions.
But there is one more lesson to be gleaned from the video and the responses to it. What follows is in no way intended to condone Wallace’s ideas, nor her actions. I find her ignorant and offensive. However, I do feel compelled to focus the discussion here, if just for a very brief moment. (more…)