It’s important to point out gender disparities, but repeated laments about the dearth of women in the industry tend to reinforce the belief that there are no women, rendering invisible the women who are doing this work. “The numbers are low, but they’re not zero,” says Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder and chief executive of the Pipeline Fellowship, a program that trains women to become tech investors. “As much as we need to increase diversity, we need to increase visibility of current diversity.” The tech industry may have a problem with women, but women don’t have a problem with technology.
On the Internet, women are overpowered and devalued. We don’t always think about our online lives in those terms—after all, our days are filled with work to do, friends to keep up with, Netflix to watch. But when anonymous harassers come along—saying they would like to rape us, or cut off our heads, or scrutinize our bodies in public, or shame us for our sexual habits—they serve to remind us in ways both big and small that we can’t be at ease online. It is precisely the banality of Internet harassment, University of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks has argued, that makes it “both so effective and so harmful, especially as a form of discrimination.”
My memory of men is never lit up and illuminated like my memory of women.
If you have lived alone for two decades, it also means you can’t subconsciously (or directly) blame your partner if your professional or creative life hasn’t worked out as well as you had hoped. Whatever career and financial mistakes I’ve made (and there have been some doozies) are mine and mine alone. When you meet your partner at 40, there’s no mental backtracking: “I could have been a senior V.P. by now if we hadn’t moved to Tucson for his job,” or “I could have been a rock star if I hadn’t had to cover everyone’s health insurance.” Most important, I’ve realized I never needed a long boyfriend résumé for the experience.
If she had been nicer to me I would have wanted to know [her]. It was always that way with women I found threatening, that there was some unfulfilled longing to be friends. I didn’t know quite why she threatened me. She was full of life and verve and a refreshing bluntness, and yet I wanted her contained instead of celebrated for these qualities I secretly admired
This practice was fairly common in the war in Eastern Congo some years ago. Consuming human flesh became a means to consume an enemy’s power. When I was reporting on this, I became concerned that by writing about contemporary cannibalism, I would be contributing to stupid old stereotypes about Africa as some kind of cannibal land. In researching the history, I found a couple of interesting facts. First, Christopher Columbus coined the term “cannibal” when he was writing about a certain ethnic group, probably the Caribes, who, a rival group told him, ate their enemies. Columbus used this tale as an argument for converting the rest of the world to Christianity. Also, during the colonial period, many Africans believed that the white colonists were cannibals because so many Africans never returned from working for them in the copper and gold mines. Because the colonists ate canned food, the one common African understanding was that the whites were chopping up the Africans into little pieces and sending them home in cans.
This year will take from me
the hardened person
who I longed to be.
I am healing by mistake.
Rome is also built on ruins.
Eliza Griswold, from “Ruins”
I’m embarrassed I didn’t know Eliza Griswold wrote poems. Of course she does. Baby Amina was obsessed with her magazine writing when we were both at the New America Foundation. Also this poem is perfect