Blog #3- Digital Culture: Gender Expression and Oppersion

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In Kahn and Kellner, social media is treated as the key to “understanding and shaping the political and cultural life of the present age,” (89).  The internet has become a place where political and social discourse is unfolding and is challenging the top down system of epistemology (Daniels 2009, 102). With the advent and prevalent use of the internet and social media, it has allowed feminism to branch out and take form as cyber feminism. As Nouraie-Simone pointed out it has given women who feel repressed and voiceless in their society an area in cyberspace to free their thoughts and experiences. Cyber feminism is argued to have enabled the democratization of feminist thought globally. Kahn and Keller laud in particular the subculture that is forming around blogging and how it is used as a place to debate, comment, and critique feminist works and issues. This blog for instance is a perfect example of the “virtually democratic” use of the internet. Nouraie-Simone explores how blogging has given Iranian women a space of their own to express their thoughts in a safe and comfortable manner that most likely won’t get persecuted.

Not only is the internet a place for self-expression via blogs but social media websites have also transformed the ways in which people identify themselves and interact with each other. Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter require one to maintain a virtual self that works to make a social profile for everyone who has an account. This trans-formative aspect of the internet and how it has shaped its users is examined and critiqued in the documentary “We Live in Public” and Nathan Jurgenson’s Surveillance and Society. These pieces work to raise awareness of the cost of such “freedoms” that the internet offers.

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In “We Live in Public”, surveillance is used as a hegemonic force which Josh Harris, a social media tycoon, uses “surveillance culture” to control the population that he has allowed into his domain. Harris uses biopower and the concept of the omniopticon in an underground society called “The Quiet: We Live in Public”. Biopower is used by Harris in order to have control over the bodies, thoughts, and personalities of the participants he is allowing into his project. The cameras that he implanted in the underground society were monitoring the showers, sleeping pods, bathrooms, and all other areas in the underground space.

Through this form of digital culture via cameras and the internet, one observes that the embodiment of women was highly stereotypical. A particular scene of the film showed a woman being sexually harassed while naked in the shower by one of the male citizens of Quiet. Harris and other onlookers were merely standing around and watching as this went on without doing anything. Harris seemed pleased and was laughing as this was happening. This haven that Harris created still contained the real world systems of oppression and affected women by sexualizing them. Harris referred to technology as a “new boy in town…” expanding the system of patriarchy through patriarchal media production.

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