Atta Ikede

November 21, 2008

Canada, meet California

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 7:58 pm

I’ve finally found it.

I’ve had an undeniable feeling of misfit-ness here ever since I moved. It’s been something I wanted to describe and have probably discussed to some extent earlier, but I haven’t been satisfied with any of my previous discussions on this topic. I couldn’t find the words to quite express the problem because it’s a feeling that only comes up when I talk to a certain subset of Californians.

But now I’ve found this: This blog/club here very obviously is and could only be a brainchild of members of this community. “Yes. we’re so rich, we take the time to care about the world and make the right choices. We know we’re rich because we constantly keep in mind the masses of humanity living on $2 a day. Gosh darn-it we’re just so priveleged!

I have only admiration for those who believe in sustainability and living-green, but you have to agree there’s something about the glossy apple logo and the “APLS” acronym that makes you go “wtf .. is this for real?” If you are like me, you may have also rolled your eyes and laughed. Out loud. lol.

Here’s another one. Reusable hand made sanitary napkins for girls in Africa. Again, on one hand, and especially seeing as I’m a woman, I admire the drive and desire that somebody took in getting this program together. But then, when I read the details of the scheme, I can’t help but have a mild feeling of disbelief. Yes, let’s give a bunch of girls in Africa reusable pads and force them to have waste water and time washing those disgusting thing, because giving them disposable tampons is bad for the environment. Again. wtf? I wonder, do the people who run the reusable pads website use their own products? I doubt it! It’s just another example of some do-gooder in the west deciding on the appropriate solution for poor people in developing countries. They’re just the modern version of 1500s hardcore missionaries except instead of peddling religion they’re peddling their environmentalism. I would suspect that average poor African to whom this program is directed is probably more worried about economic issues than environmental ones and rightly so!!

Anyway, there you go. These examples are pretty typical slices of the kind of mentality espoused here by a certain subset of Californians. Now imagine running into the “make your own tampon” or “apls” people in real life and you’ll get a sense of what some of my social situations are like. And I work in software! hahaha. Thank god for nerds.

I wonder what it’s like in Berkeley …

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5 Comments »

  1. Hey Swapna,

    Found your blog through your facebook profile.

    Damn. those Californians sound like they’re bat shit crazy, trying to change the world with their cockamamie ideas and all.

    The intentions are noble.. but not thoroughly thought out… lol

    – Will

    Comment by Will — November 24, 2008 @ 1:40 pm

  2. hehe. Yes.

    Comment by attaikede — December 2, 2008 @ 8:38 am

  3. So where does cloth diapering fall into this assessment then? Is it because they’re in Africa that it doesn’t make sense for women to wash reusable pads? I’ve heard this argument before re: cloth diapering…I don’t buy it. I KNOW I’m saving a ton of money and the environment by cloth diapering, not to mention protecting my kid from the chemicals that are used in producing diapers (similar to what’s used in pads).

    I’m with you on the glossy apples though…WTF?

    Comment by Wendy — December 19, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

    • I think the key difference in the case of diapers is that you, the mom, made a conscious decision to choose a certain type of diaper for your baby. You probably weighed a variety of factors in making your decision – convenience, cost, baby’s exposure to chemicals, comfort, etc. It was your decision.

      In the case of the african handmade sanitary napkins, it’s some dudes here in the west deciding that tampons aren’t good for african women and they should have to wear those reusable things. That’s the part that bothers me. Whose environmental conscience are they clearing with this strategy? A campaign for women here to use reusable products of that nature probably would do more good in the overall balance than taking this effort for African women. African women should have a variety of products and should choose what works. Maybe some women will prefer the resuable products. Maybe others prefer disposable. We shouldn’t be deciding for them.

      Comment by attaikede — December 19, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

  4. I don’t get how they don’t have a choice…the pads are being donated. There are other programs out there the donate similar disposable products as well.

    In the FAQs section they specifically address the water issue (to my satisfaction) and mention that in most of the “target communities” these women are currently reusing rags and washing them anyway. I don’t know about you, but I think reusable pads that are specifically designed for this purpose would be preferable to old, dirty rags. No?

    Have you ever checked out some of the reusable sanitary products out there? They’re pretty slick, despite they’re intended purpose.

    Comment by Wendy — December 23, 2008 @ 12:46 pm


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