Daughters of Democracy
Kahn and Keller explore many positive characteristics of the democratic forum the internet has provided for many. The medium is called BLOGGING – easy to create and maintain. A click away for any one with internet connection to read your thoughts, passions, works gone unpublished…
More than a Dear Diary, “bloggers have demonstrated themselves as technoactivists favoring not only democratic self-expression and networking, but also global media critique and journalistic sociopolitical intervention” (Khan & Kellner, 91). This means women across across the world have commented on their social conditions. From me, a women in America, to a woman in the East who lets others see her cyber scars of war and oppression – we are leading humanistic conversations in the world of politics. It lets us see that political activists and techonoactivists are means to one end. It is liberating, but that libation is within the confines of established structures.
So, what is with that pregnant women up there? She is part of the Bodies exhibition created by the eccentric Dr. Gunther Von Hagens. Amongst many other controversies, the display of the female cadavers is said to radiate sexism: they are shown to be “baby making machines” and ballerinas; the men are are displayed in many gender neutral forms. The exhibition, as cool and rebellious it has come to be, established the hegemonic discourse of bilogical bodies into a gendered presentation. Feminism wants discourse to encompass a sensitivity understanding of “the interaction of physical environment, virtual environment, sex, gender, technology, and economic practices” (Kruse 114).
Cyberspace women also relate and exchange information in LxWxH spaces. They are creating a sister hood to sustain these blogs, such as the BlogHer and Blogalicious conferences where participants attend workshops on monetization (Daniels). It is this sort of support that let’s women peruse further criticism and analysis of the social condition in any space.
Democratization is not always so liberating – surprise, surprise. When women escape to the world of online gaming or forums, physical fabrics of boobs and butts follow them onto their avatars. They are almost always a mirror of gender conformity. Even users who do not identify as heterosexual will conform to some sort of expectation on how they are to behave. Point is, bloggers and vloggers exist in physical space. What they see here is projected on to cyberspace – social projection.
The socio-economic status is also reflected in the blogging world. Which demographic dominates the top blog lists? Are they middle class? Which class values and issues do they reflect? All these aspects continue to keep class structure in place – as much as we want to embrace disembodiment on the internet, we need that blog or YouTube traffic to fill empty stomaches. Make-up gurus use expensive cameras, cosmetics, and clothing to market themselves. The top YouTubers have access to expensive software and people to make their film visions come alive. There is another population that relies on public libraries for internet connection. They are the voices completely left out of the internet democratization.
Users, as anonymous they may seem, are living bodies who know that the uploader is a living body as well. As we saw in Josh Harris‘s case, his violent and revoltingly masculine man handling of Tanya quickly led to a decline in fans. We sure do live in public with numerous bloggers and vloggers sharing their experience, but it still does not undermine notions of personal space and self expression that humans crave.
Here is a better question: would you rather have sex or the internet?