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Potential of the Internet for Women

Internet, Cyberspace and Cyberfeminism with Focus on Afghanistan

2.13 Constraints and Opportunities

2.13.3 Potential of the Internet for Women

As we have seen, women engage with the Information Society through the Internet in a variety of contexts (at home, through public access points and at work) and for a variety of reasons (leisure, citizen participation, work and consumerism).

There is, however, a tendency to emphasize the barriers that women face which prevent them participating fully in the Information Society without acknowledging that the Internet can offer women the opportunity to become involved in new ways, empowering groups which have been under-represented in the past. Through the Internet, women can express themselves anonymously.

44 2.14 Cyberfeminism

The joint link between the two phrases of "Feminism" and "Cyber" has made a very significant figure in the history of feminism (s) and electronic Medias. Feminism as beyond national, historical and modern movement is known for carrying equality and freedom for women and deals with the active participation of women in local, national and cross-border networks. Cyber-feminism has the capacity to portray the historical and philosophical methods of communicating in feminism with modern feminist projects and networks in daily life and experiences of women, regardless of age, race, class and economic differences. Social networks are channels which through them a large number of people around the world obtain the majority of the information therefore how women draw a path and contents of these networks are essentially crucial. Feminism has gained an international audience and to be capable of making an impact on the life and living situation, these audiences must be informed on their life and history. Cyber feminism could potentially be a gate for participation of more people to debates the activities of feminism. As already a huge content of information is accessible through networks and data keep increasing on subject it must pointed out that the more politically weighted these data to and deal with solutions, activities and daily experience they are more likely to communicate and motivate people to help (washingtonpost.com).

Knowledge, experience and feminist analysis and solutions that have already been collected are essential for the continuation of cyber-feminists activities. If the goal is to create a feminist politics on the network and the empowerment of women, so to meet and protest against the situations, new technology and organizations, cyber feminists must have the re-interpretation of analysis, criticism and strategies of feminism experiences.

Cyber-feminism was created in West in early 1990s as a reaction against the Tech culture. This view challenged the gender hierarchy created by technology and brought down the differences between men and women. Cyber-feminism sought to undermine the power structure and highlight and cherish the ability, creativity, myths and symbols of women in technology. In cyber feminism, women are not passive victims but active agents in building their identity and destiny. They encouraged women who had a fear of technology to overcome their fears.


The perspectives of cyberfeminism have been the rays of hope amongst feminists and it can discuss complicated areas technologically and provide a new field for women. Of course there are a lots of technology expectation among cyber feminists.

Cyber-feminists argue that virtual space is a gender free space and one can have activities on it regardless of age, gender, race, economic class or having a fixed position as someone "real".

It is worthy to note that new media‘s are still old framed and economic, cultural and political fields are based on old beliefs and are deeply gender oriented and highly racists. Cyberspace unlike the beliefs of many idealistic cannot remove the hierarchy by free exchange of information and spontaneously. The network also is not a non- sexual utopia and currently works with the social point of view considering the body, gender, age, economics, social class and race. Considering the undeniable and progressive work of women in inventions and enhancement of technology, today‘s networks are still used as a tool for military and male dominant service. Based on the optimistic view of cyber-feminists, IT acts as a bridge between genders. But pillars of power dominate the cyberspace as it does in the physical space.

Cyberspace has created a position for women but the old patriarchal forces still hold the key to this technology. As long as internet remains the free border, it can provide women with more choices and options and activated their potential.

The pioneer of cyber feminism, ‗Sadie Plant, Susan Luckman, Donna Haraway, Anna Munster‘, had an ideal vision of cyberspace where gender inequalities is greatly reduced. They say that with more connected people on internet, the style of writing which was popular before the era of social networks has changed since it allows the user to experience the freedom of speech themselves regardless of their gender.

Although the initial cyber feminists including Plant talked more about the radical political ideologies, especially the fact that since women can directly use Internet, therefore they must be fully qualified in the technical field. But reasoning of Luckman and Munster is that this process will at best decrease the complicated IT to a tool and it ignores the historical fields of manufacturing and implementation.

Cyber feminists believe that with intelligence, positivity and diplomacy and using the wisdom of the past struggles, they can create a policy avoid of disruptive and


blunt aim at deconstructing the patriarchal conditions that currently produce the law, languages, pictures and network structures (Wilding1998: 46-59).

Sadie Plant dealt with the dependencies between digital networking and solidarity among women. She compared to the metaphor of weaving to women‘s relationship with computers and cyberspace. Plant has collected a long history of women as inventors, manufacturers and operators of personal computers. This date holds a meaning and importance for Plant since she believed the computer networking is a base for something natural women has been doing traditionally (Consalvo 2012: 2).

Enthusiasts for women intellectual, often point out that the relationship between networks and women is in fact a myth binding just like the Greek goddess


Therefore, the world‘s spread‘s network for cyber feminism has metaphorically interpret into the myth and the link between home computers and females has extended to the point that cyberspace turned into a spiritual space.

Cyber feminism simultaneously stands against men who want to control it and also fight with re organization of the world against women through a technology that aims at pressurizing and dominating them. Cyber feminism deals with empowering.

Some women start using the Web to show themselves. Through personal blogs and chat rooms, these women could debate and discuss on issues such as identity, racism, university, social relationships and sexual issues from their own perspectives.