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Manpreet Singh
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Just imagine in the following rooms: a 40-year-old female lorry driver faced child care issues, a teenage boy who doesn’t like him because he has acne, a bride who is thinking about how to deal with wedding calls, an insurance broker in Canada concerned about the higher amount of complaints from obstetrics than motor vehicle accidents and the director of a South African rape crisis center. It is impossible to visualize these people in one space, unlike basic logistics because of their diversity. Yet, although just digitally, this room highlights the potential online for integrating and linking feminist topics.
When we visit e-mail online or surf our favorite websites, it’s easy to forget that we are involved in a societal change in how we spend our life. But since we value the Internet, we need to realize and take advantage of our immense potential as a way of facilitating social change — how we purchase, communicate, search for information. When Internet communications technologies were first dubbed as ‘new media,’ disguising the capacity of the Internet to access news and events in more than simply a new manner. The Internet gives some unique media, but its greatest value lies, as its name implies, in its ability to interconnect people and ideas. If we only misunderstand it as a “new medium,” we missed the ability to be a dynamic source of network and activism. It could be better to term it a new media, a new instrument to achieve the goals of feminism. An early feminist Internet goal was to get women online. Only 15% of internet users were women in 1995, but by the beginning of 2000 women formed 50% of users (a 32 percent increase since 1999). However, there was never any lack of patriarchy. The content was controlled by men and profit by males. The way women and men access the Internet has likewise formed a gender gap: males surfed, hopped on a site; women went to certain sites directly or sought for data on particular subjects. To improve the femininization of the Internet, the process of associating women and the information they were seeking had to be facilitated. Once “arrived,” they would link, as well as to each other, female organizations, ads, and resources. In a virtual sisterhood, the ties between sites via hyperlinks (more Webrings, lists of services, etc.) have become the ultimate: to better educate ourselves, we can direct each other towards similar websites and organizations. The nature of the Internet is natural for women to be online: it is an extension to our own communication trends that we express ourselves through words—as we do with e-mail, a list of services, or websites.