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Cyber Feminism, Gender and Technology
Cyberfeminism, Gender and Technology
Feminist movement found on the internet is known as Cyberfeminism. In recent times, the term has gained controversial status. Cyberfeminism, a fundamental issue from the feminist perspective, is mostly ignored by researchers and academics. It concentrates on empowerment of women through the cyberspace. Furthermore, it deals with female enlightenment and concentrates on creating awareness on how the digital technologies can influence the rights and social status of women. The digital technologies act as a medium of re-embodying the issue of racism and gender. Internet is the new medium used to erase the identity of women; that is; women are the erased race. However, the internet has played a significant role in promoting Cyberfeminism by pointing out that several feminist studies and internet activities are done by the online media. It cannot be denied that technology plays an important role in promoting feminism in the cyber world. The terms technology, feminism and racism are interconnected and cannot be separated. This indicates that technology is important in today's time and thus, the consequences are not alone dependent on technology but also depend on the social, political and institutional structure together with user perception. The aim of this research paper is to discuss Cyberfeminism, racism and technology in the lights of broad and diverse academic resources.
During the nineties, a new form of media emerged, which completely changed the face of technology. The last decade has witnessed significant developments in the information technology domain[footnoteRef:1]. The commercial interest in the development of the Internet technology is comparable to the commercial interest in development of Guttenberg Press, which aimed at producing massive printed text during the age of industrialization[footnoteRef:2]. From feminist critique, it has been observed that although scientists and academics claim that science and technology are objective and unbiased in nature. The statement that technology is objective in nature is false and in reality, it maintains and sustains inequalities and disparities. The pursuit of "sought to advocate the possibility of a feminist science and politics outside of gender binarisms" can be observed in works of Cynthia Cockburn.[footnoteRef:3] Following the steps of Cockburn, several feminists have "enabled new substantive knowledge and critiques in order to deconstruct and re-construct science"[footnoteRef:4]. However, it should be noted that majority of these accounts are searching for impartiality and neutrality and "a reworked vision of the Enlightenment project of progress through scientific knowledge"[footnoteRef:5]. [1: Chon, Margaret. Erasing Race?: A Critical Race Ferminist View of Internet Identity Shifting, 1999.
] [2: Chon, Margaret. Erasing Race?: A Critical Race Ferminist View of Internet Identity Shifting, 1999.
] [3: Cockburn, Cynthia. The Line: Women, Partition and the Gender Order in Cyprus. London;New York: Zed Books, 2004.] [4: Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008] [5: Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008]
The global impact of Internet and its supporting technologies cannot be denied, yet they are controlled and managed by Western multinational organizations and corporations. In this regard, ownership, gender, knowledge and technology are still under the hands of a particular group and thus are part of an exclusive category. The claim that the internet and its online world have given ultimate freedom "for all different bodies of knowledge do not and are not readily manifested in cyberspace practices"[footnoteRef:6]. In the era of digitization, information technologies have been utilized in order to have a positive impact on society and its ends. Yet this is only seen in theory and not in practice. Cyberfeminism has been developed and coined by feminists in order to respond to the "technologically mediated structures of power" and to deal with the discrimination made against women in terms of information technology[footnoteRef:7]. The cyberworld is known to be the hub of misogyny and sexism, which is far more than in the physical world. From research, it is evident that internet is considered to be an important social organization, which is controlled by males. As mentioned earlier, the internet is controlled by an exclusive class of multinational organizations; it has been created by gendered individuals and thus managed by them and therefore, suppression and subjugation of women has been reinforced in the online world[footnoteRef:8]. In this regard, Cyberfeminism has emerged in order to combat the male dominated online world[footnoteRef:9]. [6: Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008] [7: Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008] [8: Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. London: Routledge, 2002] [9: Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. London: Routledge, 2002]
Definition of Cyberfeminism
The term Cyberfeminism is defined as "diverse range of practices and discourses all generically identifiable by their commitment to exploring non-oppressive alternatives to existing relations of power through the manipulation of information technologies"[footnoteRef:10]. In simple terms, the goal of cyberfeminism is to retain and promote the quality of gender. It deals with the philosophy, principle and practices defined by feminism within the online world. Cyberfeminism in practice seeks to offer females an alternate way of dealing with male dominance in technological domain. Cyberfeminism has emerged as a product of misogyny and sexism that prevails in the online world[footnoteRef:11]. Although claims have been made that technology and science are objective in nature, yet it is believed that the online media is used by males in order to subjugate women. The cyber world has been developed in order to share information and knowledge. However, the sharing of information has been divided among users and non-users and the entire online world has been divided in to categories; "information poor and information rich"; together with repression and subjugation including racism, sexism, etc.[footnoteRef:12]. "Cyberfeminism positions itself as an uneasy but productive political project in the midst of this highly contradictor ydigital landscape of threats and promises for women and their allies"[footnoteRef:13]. To understand how the term cyberfeminism emerged, is difficult. The appearance of the term was first made in the early nineties by VNS Matrix, an Australia-based group of artists. During the nineties, the term was significantly found in the online world but lacked formal definition and objective. Irrespective of the vagueness found in its definition and goals, cyberfeminism has significant attention and importance[footnoteRef:14]. [10: Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. London: Routledge, 2002] [11: Wilding, Faith. Where is Feminism in Cyberfeminism?. 28 March 2006. Cyberfeminist International. 4 June 2011] [12: Wilding, Faith. Where is Feminism in Cyberfeminism?. 28 March 2006. Cyberfeminist International. 4 June 2011] [13: Wilding, Faith. Where is Feminism in Cyberfeminism?. 28 March 2006. Cyberfeminist International. 4 June 2011] [14: Wilding, Faith. Where is Feminism in Cyberfeminism?. 28 March 2006. Cyberfeminist International. 4 June 2011]
Theoretical Background of Cyberfeminism
There is no doubt that third wave feminism had a massive influence on cyberfeminism. Frequently researchers assert that cyberfeminism is the product of third wave feminism. The third wave feminism is considered to be an important and significant movement in terms of development of feminist ideology and promotion of gender equality[footnoteRef:15]. It started during the nineties as a response "a critical response to the political exclusions and biases of the second wave, revealed as merely having included white Western middleclass straight women under the seemingly unifying category "women." The third wave, interlaced with poststructuralism, postmodernism, queer theory, black feminism, and postcolonial theory, is a multi-facetted acknowledgement of the many differences and power hierarchies that position women in relation to men, and in relation to one another"[footnoteRef:16]. The difference and disparity among women during the nineties were based on race, class, ethic background, sexuality, etc. Cyberfeminism based on theory concentrates primarily on the studies related to third wave feminism and science and technology. [15: Bohman, James. "Expanding Dialogue: The Internet, the Public Sphere and Prospects for Transnational Democracy." In After Habermas: New Perspectives on the Public Sphere, eds. Nick Crossley and John Michael Roberts, 131-55. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004] [16: Wilding, Faith. Where is Feminism in Cyberfeminism?. 28 March 2006. Cyberfeminist International. 4 June 2011]
Donna Haraway's Cyborg Image
When talking about cyberfeminism, the metaphor used by Donna Haraway comes into appearance. She had used cyborg in order to demonstrate the gender equality that exists in all domains. "Haraway's cyborg interpretation has no commitment to an absolute base for knowledge, but emphasizes "situated" and "partial" knowledge, uncertain and sometimes contradictory subjectivities and identities. She regards the subject as an ongoing, open-ended process in the intersections of gender, race, and class, with a sensibility for local, material conditions that form female subjectivity"[footnoteRef:17]. From Haraway's perspective, cyberfeminism has been derived from the philosophy of postmodern feminism along with socialist feminism. [17: Bohman, James. "Expanding Dialogue: The Internet, the Public Sphere and Prospects forTransnational Democracy." In After Habermas: New Perspectives on the Public Sphere, eds.Nick Crossley and John Michael Roberts, 131-55. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004]
Sadie Plant and Cyberfeminism
A different perspective of…[continue]
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