Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why Yes, I Am Awesome

There's a meme of sorts (not a meme. a movement.) going about the Internet that women should not be afraid to Own Our Awesome

And here's why:

Because I’m a woman, and I have accordingly been taught my entire life to view myself as lesser-than, to devalue my own accomplishments, to accept it when other people treat me as lesser-than and devalue me, which they (if they are men, especially) have been taught to do.

Well, my turn: I am awesome. I. Am. Awesome.

In 1993 I spent my summer teaching myself FORTRAN as a research assistant to the high-energy astrophysics department at UC Irvine and debugging a piece of computer code used to process data from black hole candidates. Figured out the iterative solution required, and implemented it properly. I rocked.

In 1996, I and 5 other women founded Web, by Women, for Women, a feminist anti-censorship website in direct response to the Communications Decency Act, and, a few years later, founded The 3rd WWWave of Feminism, another even more overtly feminist site talking about our experience as wired feminists. We got invited to speak at the Journalism and Women Symposium in 1998. We got mentioned in A Woman's Guide to Sex on the Web. We rocked the 'Net before most of the rest of the world got on board, and we still rock as individuals.

I write. I write well. I teach legal research and writing and am a published fiction author. Winner of the Writers of the Future contest. Know what? That fucking rocks. I fucking rock.

Last summer, in Alaska, I sang for the first time in about 25 years for my family, and the first time ever for some of the younger members of my extended family. And rocked 'em *back*, baby. (For the record, I sing every day, just not publicly. Any more. It just happened that way. People in Alaska cannot hear me singing in Boston.) 'Walking After Midnight' is my signature piece, and I killed 'em.

After being sworn in as an attorney, I represented, with my co-counsel, 26 residents of two towns south of Boston in fighting a proposed power plant in their area before the state licensing board that almost never says no...and obtained a critical 'no' to one aspect of the permitting request that may ultimately defeat the project entirely. GO US! GO ME!

The list goes on and I expect it to continue to go on.

So, Kate Harding asked, what's your power? What makes you Firstname Fucking Lastname?

I'll tell you.

You know, one time I was chatting with a friend about...something...oh, I forget, presumably some new thing I was learning or planning to, and she looked at me for a second and said, "Sidra, is there anything you *can't* do?"

And I thought about it, because it seemed like a serious question warranting a thoughtful answer, and answered, "No." There is nothing I cannot do. I may lack the talent or interest to develop genuine artistry at something, like line drawing, but anything that requires study and practice to accumulate a competency in, well, yes, yes I can. I can do that. Because I learn things, and then I build things using that knowledge. At my most fundamental, I analyse and build systems, it's a metapower, and I'm fucking good at it.

I am Sidra Fucking Vitale, and I can do anything.