As you read my column in this issue, you must be wondering why I have deviated from the usual articles that throw light on the status quo of women in different fields like entrepreneurship, medicine and others. But cyber feminism, which could literally be explained as feminism in the virtual world, is a much deeper concept and has far deeper-founded impacts than we can fathom.
For what was one of the world’s most needed revolutionary movements, feminism grew rapidly in its magnitude and outreach to folks across the globe. As plainly as that can be explained: which country, which community, which household lacked individuals who identified with the cause? In due course, women were successful in receiving voting rights, political and social reservations and began moving closer to a seeming equality. For debatable reasons, the movement began to become a scape goat of jokes and negativity, either due to faulty displays by identifiers or due to the insecurities of the opposite gender. However, revamped as CYBER FEMINISM, the movement is finding its way into every citizen’s device and social media account, whether or not they are aware of it. As you go forward, it is of prime importance that we know that feminism is dynamic. Everyone’s idea of this social movement need not be the same. Moreover, not every woman needs to identify with this cause to the same extent: it is completely normal for a woman to deny participation in the same. Before I went any further digging into this controversial topic, I decided to understand what some empowering women, who I personally know, had to say about it…
Aiman Khan, International Relations Major, American University of Sharjah:
“I believe that the use of the internet as a medium to propagate ideas about equal rights for women is certainly the right way to go about it in an era of digitisation. Moreover, the term “feminism” has earned many critiques, with some believing it to portray men in a bad light, and to be used as an instrument of hate against men. However, this new phenomenon of “cyber feminism” reshapes and presents the positon of women in a rather constructive manner. In the end, cyber feminism has made use of the cyberspace in an effective manner that bears endless fruits to this incredible vision.”
Alma Karen Rosas Rodriguez, History major with a minor in Human Rights (focus in Latin America), University of California, Davis:
“There’s a global digital breach. Western developed societies have more access to the internet compared to developing nations. While yes, cyber feminism allows for a digital platform to spread feminism, there will inherently be a digital gap that will have the voices of women from developing economies being suppressed by the voices of the west. Not all people have access to the internet, computer or read. So yes, cyber feminism is good because it spreads the message of feminism, but of whom? We can applaud the ready knowledge of feminism, but we need to be aware that cyber feminism is rooted with a socioeconomic privilege that not everyone has. So yes, celebrate the information but be aware of the voices being shared and its exclusionary origins. I support cyber feminism but want everyone to know of its availability and invisibility to people.”
While theoretically we agree that social media platforms, blogs and websites allow an individual to share their thoughts with a much larger group than ever, we must take a pragmatic approach to this generalisation. While for people residing in a city the idea may be obsolete, not everyone has access to the internet or even technology interfaces. Hence, this raises questions on two sides. Who are the people who are able to avail this facility? What is the subset of people they are reaching out to?”
Nirupama Cemballi, Economics major with double minor in Business and Film Studies, University of California, San Diego:
“I believe that cyber feminism is important for people all over the world to be able to connect with each other online. To have access to computers in order to discuss ideas is what allows for people to intercommunicate. Although discussing these ideas is important for initiatives to spread, only a targeted group is able to participate in cyber feminism because of their accessibility to these resources.”
Once we start talking population dynamics, we realise that a huge segment of voices that we would like to listen to (or would like to listen to us), get cut off from the scene. If you get internet for an hour a day, you’re going to save it for way more important things. If you do not have the money to afford a smartphone or any handheld fancy device, you are not a part of the generation that is being swept by a wave of online influences. Women of colour, lower class status or even financial holding are indeed the ones who are often left out. In other words, we are missing out on those essential voices while shaping our contemporary ideals on feminism.
Nevertheless, with numerous NGOs and government initiatives working to alleviate the situation of these sections of the women, we certainly are exposed to a disguised or decorated version of these voices. That being said, this marketing strategy indeed is a first step. Once these women get their voices out and the readers are educated about what they read and see on the internet, we can create a better and stronger cyber culture for women around the world.