Feminist Norms Online
October 6, 2011
My recent work has been about trying to name and also model experiences online (like this one) that seem more aligned with the feminist, and otherwise progressive lived experiences and spaces I already value in RL. While architecture and design of any online space play a huge part in the production of possible feminist communities, as does the content of the site most generally, my students and I have been recently thinking about behavioral norms that also contribute to online atmosphere, experience, and activity: both those assumed by users because of unwritten cue and those that are hard-wired into a site’s architecture.
So here, as a first step in this ongoing naming project, I begin to create another rough terminology. Responses would be appreciated, as always, to these names for feminist norms online. And, I’d like to begin with one important parameter for each of these conditions: while each must be present for a site to create possibilities for feminism, none can be fixed, immutable, or inaccessible. instead, each of the principles listed below must be linked to a transparent method that allows them to be open to question, debate, change, and participate in their ongoing construction:
- rules of engagement: clearly stated, and principled.
- warranted users with a visible connection to their lived bodies: anonymity breeds hate; the loss of the body erases the politics of identity, place, and society
- hierarchies as needed: leaders, mentors, organizers, builders are needed
- shared authoring: yet every user is allowed the full authority of her voice
- shared language: a common vocabulary, connected to a feminist analysis or positionality (or from other political movements) allows for facility of conversation, as well as a sence of community
- shared political beliefs: a common set of beliefs about the world, and how it might change, are the foundation for change.
- collaboration: users should encounter possibilities to do things together
- respect: is a baseline for interaction
- process: discussions about how things are done, how things feel, how things could be better experientially are understood as central to the workings and content of the site