Feminist On/Offline Space Reflections

April 29, 2011

The semester has ended, and my intrepid USC students have completed their final projects, the hardest yet. They were asked to produce hybrid on/off line spaces incorporating the digital place they had studied and inhabited all semester into the real world, and thereby making a claim about feminist of color spaces.

Given how weird this assignment was, I was thrilled that so many of the students did such a good job.

While each of them did something quite different, there were some striking similarities in their projects and findings:

  • face-to-face interaction, experienced in bodies, requires self-definition and produces accountability
  • transparent interactions, where rules and norms are named, allow for democratic possibilities
  • hierarchies are inevitable in interactions where one person organizes and gets a grade
  • the longer one stays in any community online, the more able one is table o gain self-definition, accountability, credibility and power (akin to that in the real world, see above)
  • until then, guides are really helpful
  • if you are a straight, white man (or some of the above) you can assume this in most spaces without having to produce its possibilities on your own
  • ineffable experiences dependent upon the senses—like cooking and eating together or making music—can not be repeated online
  • however, digital versions of these experiences can record, pass on, and grow possibilities for further experiences
  • while having a voice online is potentially empowering, it is easiest to be heard in a small room with people you know/share interests with
  • while people can be mean in on and offline spaces, accountability functions differently
  • while people are hesitant to discuss feminism or race in any forum, most people want to and
  • by producing spaces that are respectful, open, and focused, with accountability and possibilities for self-authoring, many people will rise to their feminist/anti-racist best
  • group-think often disallows this, so one-on-one experiences are a good place to start
  • tactical non-media interventions are increasingly powerful in a hyper-mediated world (i.e. making people aware of the way the media works without using it, i.e. in the real world with unmediated words, actions, activities)
  • nothing is wrong with sarcasm, humor, and letting loose per se, as long as we all have equal opportunities to do so, can leave places that do so in ways that are hurtful, and can make or find our own spaces under our terms (the hardest and most crucial part!)

4 Responses to “Feminist On/Offline Space Reflections”

  1. […] class, I held a focus group with some of my brothers to gage knowledge and get opinions about feminist spaces online and offline.  Over the course of the focus group, I asked them a few initial questions regarding feminism and […]

  2. […] this session, I attempted to allow my current work about feminist spaces online and my earlier body of research on the LA Woman’s Building to triangulate our vision about […]

  3. […] speak here as a “black lesbian” because when I was teaching my course on feminist online spaces during the Spring, to my surprise and initial confusion, so many of my students did. They were […]

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