Role of women in Cyberspace

Posted: July 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

I chose “Selling the Internet to Women” article to address this week blog’s topic “Early adopters of technology and cyberspace”. The article focuses on the metaphors associated with internet and various discourses related to gender in cyberspace in the period of 1990-1998 in western countries. In the beginning, internet was only the source of communication. It facilitated people to express their thoughts and feeling more freely as compared to other mediums like telephone or radio because its use was not restricted by any corporate institution. The metaphors can tell us a lot about the things itself and it might encourage or discourage the way of looking at the things. The first metaphor that was associated with internet was “frontier metaphor” because internet is “naturally free” and its use is not controlled by government. It works on the “self-regulation” basis which means it depends on individual how they want to use it. Then the internet metaphor shifted to “information superhighway” because internet was not only limited to people for their individual use, economic and business institutions started to use it and spread their business through it. The last metaphor used for internet was “managerial rhetoric” because it not only managed people’s business but also affected their behaviour and thinking. I can relate to this metaphor in a way because I am mostly dependent on the internet for the information.

Like any other medium, internet is also used as a place gender studies. The study of gender and its relation to internet tells about several things like: relation of women with technology, if women are the consumers or are they working behind the scenes to actually run the program and maintain the technology.  Women are no doubt the consumers of internet but there are women out there who are working towards building new software and working in the information technology. Since the beginning of its development, internet was constructed by men, so therefore the contribution of women was ignored. Consumption is also seen as a “female-trait”. As the consumption of internet increased by women, they were targets of internet harassment and abuse and women are thought to be lack of knowledge and interest for computers. As a result of this, internet was assumed to be “male space” and women were expected to use internet in a limit which is a contradiction to the “frontier metaphor” of freedom.

I think internet was portrayed as a dangerous space for women in the beginning because of the gender construction in the society. When women acquire freedom, society expects them to live under rules because women are the “coming of the civilization”. Despite all the warning and caution, women have used internet as an empowering tools for them either by raising their voices through blogging website or expanding their business through it. In the end, role of woman is important whether as a consumer or as a developer. Today internet has empowered many women and has provided tools and knowledge to be more aware and be more independent.  Women have become educated and they are not only the active consumers and users of the internet but they are working in development and maintenance of computers as well.  Today, women have taken over the internet world to such an extent; a new feminist metaphor may come into existence

-Simran G

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