Blog #1 – Early Adopters: Cyberfeminists, Low Tech Tools, and Early Transnational Networking

Posted: July 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


This week’s blog will focus on the Consalvo reading, Selling the Internet to Women. The article centres on the internet, women, and metaphors about the two. One of the metaphors had to do with there being very little governance over the internet which makes it more or less “naturally free”. However, with the various unwritten social constructs within the online world, online governance and control is very prevalent. Gender constructs of women being seen as consumers and men as producers have made their way to the online world where many online shopping websites are marketed towards women and business oriented/straight forward websites are geared towards men.

Even with the telephone, that women began to use more for social calls, which obviously lasted longer than most business calls, and so the telephone eventually came to be considered as a “female” medium. Another example of communication technology becoming gendered is the radio. Consalvo wrote about how because males were associated with building their own radio sets, radios became a “male” medium. But, with commercial development starting up and women being known for their “natural consumerism”, radios started to be marketed towards middle-class women. Hackers are known as masters of the internet, dominating the online world and able to take down and conquer any computer system. There are, without a doubt female hackers, but the word is largely associated with males. Why? Because it’s a dominating position, which has never been a traditional female trait.

We can see the way the internet, radio, telephone, etc. had potential to be diverse, new, and revolutionary. And it is, but it definitely took on a lot of stereotypical constructs from regular society. To be honest, I don’t feel like it would be realistic to expect the internet to be so different from regular society since the same people who run society, run the internet’s online society. Yes, the internet is monitored and has built its own constructs, but it is also unlimited and people are free to, pretty much, do whatever they want. So there will always be people, just like in our regular society, that will follow the constructs and then those who will do what they want in spite of them.

I would assume it to take longer for women to do what they want online because the internet is structured as a male dominated domain (as are most influential realms). Dangers that exist for women in the real world have found their way to online world. There are just as many, if not more, sexual predators online. This is not to say that there are not dangers for males, but it is assumed and made clear that there is more real danger for young girls starting out on the internet. To me, this almost reinforces the ideology of females being naturally weaker than males and needing to be protected or sheltered from any potential dangers – real or exaggerated.

–          Karyn D’Souza

  1. I agree with Karyn that internet cyberspace has been gendered since the beginning. Internet was seen as a strange new world, with no privacy and boundaries, hostile, dangerous around the time when it came. It was assumed that people who were socially misfit used the internet. Women were highly invisible in the beginning, even though women who helped to program the programming language, their names were erased from the history. Since internet was constructed and used by men, the gendering remained invisible. As a result of above misconceptions, internet was considered to be a very unsafe place for women. It was “lawless” space and hence women were seen more vulnerable to the hackers. By mid 1990’s women started to used the computers as consumers and came more online. Women who used computers were in minority because only upper middle class women could afford it. Women were the potential victims of online sexual abuse and therefore internet appeared as a “danger” to women. Women seemed to have lack in the knowledge in computer and the lack of interest in video games. By late 1990’s women appeared on internet as “individual shoppers”. Women were becoming valuable group of online users. The “danger” to women declined. Internet became a place of commodifications. It is noticed that even though, online participation of women increased but women are still using internet as consumers. Today, most of women want to learn computer for their personal use for example, to use social networking sites, cooking sites etc. The participation of women in development of computer or its maintenance is still minimal. The rate is female students in computer science and engineering program at university is very low as compared to male students. Usually, when you go to help desk either to repair the computer or for any other technological issue, the service will be provided by males. Hence, the cyberspace consumerism is becoming engendered but the construction and development of computer is still dominated by males.


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