Friday, November 22, 2013

Stop dissing women's use of technology!

I found it particularly ironic that on the same day Aimée tweeted her meta-selfie from the CBC studio where she was giving a feature interview for Spark, the hashtag #feministselfie erupted on Twitter. Go read Aimée's post to be inspired to share your research with the media, and present yourself to the world as the expert you have become in your field. Because otherwise, in the absence of smart and nuanced commentary, we are left with opinion pieces which always (want to) see the worst in how women do anything, and especially in their use of technology. This trend needs to stop.

We need to stop the inter-generational browbeating, as the one in the Jezebel opinion piece that sparked the #feministselfie hashtag; or the one in which Sinéad O'Connor was trying to teach Miley Cyrus what was wrong with her video, for some of the reasons Amanda Palmer mentions in her own open letter. We need to understand that, for better or for worse, feminism is not monolithic, and my definition might not equal yours, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't respect each other's different stances, and examine, discuss, even debate the many intersections that traverse it.

And do you know why? Because there are enough people who do not identify as feminists or allies, who are more than ready to put us in our place for how women--yea, so much for non-monolithic understandings, I know--use technology and/or social media. Remember the Pinterest debacle and the attendant hierarchy that belittled women for using it? That needs to stop.

Whatever way one uses or does not use technology or social media has to stop being a marker of cultural capital. If you opt out of social media, that's your choice, and it is legitimate. If you think Facebook works better for you than Twitter would, because it gives you a meaningful connection to far-away friends and family, that's awesome. However, we also have to admit that other people's technological choices and uses are just as valid. How about we start rejoicing in difference, and the potentials of a variety of different platforms--understanding what they're for, how people use them (in significantly different ways), and who owns them, and how they are monetized--instead of expecting to reconcile everything in identity.

After all, nobody wants to be the one pulling the classic Bourdieuvian "I was into Arcade Fire before they became mainstream."




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