Gender, sexuality and the internet

Have we taken over the internet or has it taken us over? Are we using or being used by the internet? How can we resist the globalised commodification of the internet and defend it as open, diffused, decentralised and subversive? Is the divide between our online and offline lives blurring? Is this empowering or threatening? Many fascinating questions that look not for a definite and absolute answer, but to be debated in a frame of respect of women’s and sexual rights, online and offline.



In last April, Malaysia was the backdrop for academics, feminist and queer activists, and internet rights and policy specialists from diverse organisations and networks coming from many different countries to reflect on and analyse contentious issues of gender, sexuality and the internet. Most of the material featured in this edition draws on those debates and takes them further. We proudly introduce the evolving Feminist Principles of the Internet drafted with the participation of many activists, and the first research outputs from the “End violence: Women’s rights and safety online project” highlighted in the resources section. We hope that the articles and resources offered in this GenderIT.org edition trigger your curiosity, and expand your exploration of gender, sexuality and online environments.



More articles on the Global meeting on gender, sexuality and the internet

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Feminist Principles of the Internet

Over three days, the participants discussed and debated intersections of gender, sexuality, and the internet – not only as a tool – but as a new public space. In thinking through these issues, the participants at the meeting developed a set of *15 feminist principles of the internet*. These are designed to be an evolving document that informs our work on gender and technology, as well as influences our policy-making discussions when it comes to internet governance.
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Editorial

You shall no longer be strange, internet

I’d bet my internet that one of your first experiences with the digital social had something to do with sex. Unsolicited nudity arriving in your inbox? Hundreds of sex-related IRC channels that popped up while you searched for your local radio chatroom? Pop-ups spiraling out of control on Internet Explorer? Or maybe you went looking for it in a Lycos search. Or maybe you built a geocities site with gifs and midi music and a sparkling background over which you (barely visibly) wrote something about sex. Or maybe it was you who would connect to the #0!!!!!!!!girls_love_sex IRC channel on Dalnet back when hashtags were rooms and not keywords.
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EROTICS, activism and feminist porn

Caroline Tagny interviewed Rohini Lakshané, who used to work with EROTICS India, and Sheena Magenya, from the Coalition of African Lesbians during the Global meeting on gender, sexuality and the internet in April 2014 to ask them how they understand pornography from their respective contexts, and how do they engage their activism with the intersection between sexual rights and internet rights.
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The not-so-strange feeling that someone’s always watching you

“The neighbour resembling plastic-bag-recording Ricky in American Beauty, who takes surreptitious pictures of you while collecting the day’s post. That picture of me that I posted 7 years ago on MySpace that’s now doing the rounds on some misogynistic Reddit thread. That nanny cam set up to protect your 6-year-old niece whose footage ends up on a child porn site. For most women, Big Brother lives a lot closer to home than the NSA. In fact, it’s all the Little Brothers that we’re more concerned about,” affirms GenderIT.org writer Richa Kaul Padte in this spirited article on surveillance, privacy, and its gender implications.
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Marginalised desires and the internet

This article explores marginalised desires and the need individuals have to express these desires online, especially when it may not be safe to do so offline. Attention is brought to the need to protect individuals’ rights to engage in sharing content and expressing their desires online; and the need for digital security to protection their data and identities. The article also discusses notions of identity, community and the need to form safe spaces (including the need to report violence experienced online).
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Thirty years after 1984: Who’s looking at you?

Recording cameras everywhere, facial recognition software, gait-recognition technology, unauthorized collection of pictures: It is widely known now that private companies are working with states on surveillance, but does this affect women and girls in a particular way? “While online security is for everyone, women and girls are frequent targets of malicious attacks online, and they suffer greater consequences from online attacks than men,” affirms Melissa Hope Ditmore in this article written for GenderIT.org.
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Becoming an agent of change

Are feminists bored with online activism? Cyber feminists’ minor politics and affirmative political approach often presents us with dynamic, thematic and changeable maps of affinities, of political kinship, and there is a strong potential in the crafting of such unities. However, there are more than just a few obstacles that feminists in the virtual communities have to deal with. “But their engagements continue,” states Lamia Kosovic in this article written for GenderIT.org. “Cyber feminism today is more about cartography, where maps can always be mapped differently. And our task is to become active agents in the production of changes in order to bring intrusions capable of dismantling this organism and its conceptual ties,” she incites.
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Sex, rights and the internet: Survey on internet regulation and sexual rights

If you are an LGBT activist, SRHR activist, women's rights activist, a queer blogger or a feminist who spends a lot of time on the internet, please take 15 minutes to fill in our survey. We hope with this second round of our global monitoring survey to deepen our understanding on the connections between the regulation of sexual speech and content on the internet and provide evidence that will help sexual rights activists explain the impact of such regulation on their lives and their work.