Why feminism matters to the internet?

29 Mayo 2015

Feminism is a political statement, and more importantly political practice, way of thinking, understanding and public articulation of practically every issue of life.

If I try to translate this virtually, in internet language so to say, I can state that feminism should be the basic, non-exclusive, element of the code that constitutes every possible algorithm. The human mind-intelligence is embodied in the real world. If the real world is sexist, it is very likely that most of the technology that develops will have the virus of sexism in its core as well. That core will seamlessly define rules and space of the virtual world.

But if feminism was an integral, indispensable part of virtual space, technology and media then it would be able to stand tall and would “fight” shoulder to shoulder against the ruling ideology, values, beliefs and behaviours of course. If feminism was part of the infrastructure and programming language since the invention of Internet following its up to date development, it would practically flow through all of the things related to Internet and technology, from the fridge to the oven, from TV to cyborgs, from Intel to Google, from Facebook to Reddit, from Linux community to Microsoft.

Feminism as such would be able to manage, animate and even more importantly take part in the defining and coding of virtual space.

One could ask, what is feminism after all? Is it matriarchal taking control over the world? Is it some special ranking of human beings by biological characteristics?

So what exactly is that feminism that I stand for?

The one that is open, continuous and transforming the movement of individual and collective freedom. Feminism, that puts an end to fear, helplessness, humiliation, the one that condemns violence and identifies and supports all diversities. That feminism, which is actively working on the deconstruction of patriarchy. Feminism, which is an extension and a reflection of our movement and resistance in other areas, both private and public.

But then again, where is the fun in that, if everything becomes a continuous political struggle? “So, do feminists have any friends”, one of the internet trolls asked me the other day. Really, does the mission for a better world became this boring activity, and feminists, just some human beings with humor of a serial killer, being the inevitable party breakers?

Maybe. In fact, I do not know and I do not want to answer such question, that is not my question to begin with. My question is about a feminist internet, which is not a parallel universe, but space of dialogue and conversation. Feminism is a passionate open code that is written, read, corrected and that is becoming better, stronger and safer.

Internet and information technology are some of the most exciting topics, disciplines that exist today. I was born before the internet, computers and so-called cyber-reality. Back then, I used my imagination to design a world that I love, which excites me and intrigues me at the same time. But it has been a lonely one-dimension world. Back then, I could only imagine myself interacting with anyone and anything that only my imagination could have produced.

Internet has opened the world and multiplied it. Internet, for my generation, was the entrance into the eternal spring where everything blooms and grows. It brought numerous possibilities for avatars, 1000 identities, chat rooms, spaces and forums, and all that in the privacy of my public and anonymous self.

But very quickly I came to understand that this large amusement park, where time becomes flexible, where possibilities are endless and access to knowledge is free, is not really a wonderland.

Technology, IT, hardware, software… all in itself had already encrypted the current paradigm of power relations. Current paradigm consists of those things which most of us is annoyed with when pronounced out loud, those things which lead to violence, to lower wages, to a permanent judgement of anything that is opposite to the matrix of that perfect woman which does not really exist and is impossible to become, you know that “mother-sister-whore-angel-thin-young-blonde-invisible-obedient” woman.

Technology, as a language, grammar, syntax, carries the code which is invisible, quiet and efficient, and as such it lives and works.

Those who write the code are those who impose rules to the software as well as to the hardware. That’s why I want as many feminist and activists to know how to code, because only then will they have the last word. Until then, we will live in this “50 shades of internet” world where cyber feminists will keep dealing with trolls on daily basis, keep creating campaigns on raising awareness, keep their virtual meetings, and tech-carnivals, as well as many many more activities.

If they knew how to code, then they would not be under the constant pressure to declare themselves by gender and sex, or to have 3457 different strategies to enjoy their own bodies without being judged or isolated. Then, we would be able to have video games where the roles were open, where the construction of avatars is beyond the obsession of the binary male-female division. Feminist code and a feminist internet would be based on equality and consent, and not based on false capitalist exploitative consent engraved in terms of use.

Only then would science, technology, mathematics and informatics be disciplines available and open for everyone. Women of ENIAC, the inventors of computer programming, would have their biographies in school books and their names (Betty Snyder, Betty Jennings, Fran Bilas, Kay McNulty, Marlyn Wescoff, Ruth Lichterman, Jean Bartik) would be as familiar as the names of their male counterparts. Everyone would know that Radia Perlman was the mother of the Internet as we know that Barner Lee was the father of the Web.

A computer would eventually become everyone’s toy, where Barbie would not have ruined her sister’s computer due to virus, but would be able to create programming language. Just to be clear, I believe that we all need to play with technology. Technology in children’s hands, unencumbered with codified gender colors will be a birth to a new, fresh, entertaining internet with feminist code.

The second, different code is possible as much as different world is possible, but requires a radical change, a new paradigm, which embodies economic, social, cultural and technological change.

Image source: One World Platform

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