What does a feminist internet look like?
Although there is more to it than this of course:
Dance like nobody is watching, sing like nobody is listening and email like it will be read out in court. Or so Nadine Moawad of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) joked. Feminist activists from around the world were in a conference room in Brazil, discussing what a feminist internet might look like. How did we get here?
Hmm, Brazil? Cross the Atlantic and turn left? Should work.
Rather more fun is that this is the conference that that publicly funded bird from Black Lives Matter UK was at…..and yes, it’s exactly as bad as you imagine it is:
In this future, there are more feminists and LGBT people in internet governance, making decisions and creating technologies, in contrast to the current male domination of this space. According to Facebook’s own figures released in 2015, men made up 68% of all employees, 77% of those in senior leadership and 85% of those working in technology. Twitter’s 2015 figures reveal that men make up 66% of the company, 87% of those in tech jobs and 78% of those in leadership. Google is no better – men make up 69% of all employees, 76% of those in leadership and 81% of those in technical jobs.
These three companies are indicative of the sector as a whole. There is a problem with ethnicity as well as gender, particularly when it comes to who runs companies. At Google for example, even though white people make up 57% of those in tech positions and 59% of the company overall, they hold 70% of leadership positions. This is despite women spending more time on social media than men globally – 5.88 hours compared to 4.75 hours – and the history of women in computing and technology. It was women like Ada Loveleace after all who were the pioneers of computer programming and women made up over two-thirds of those working at Bletchley Park during the second world war.
A feminist internet also enables us to challenge the ways capitalism plays out in technological spaces and underlies the drive towards profit, privatisation and control. What does it mean when the primary spaces for so many public and private interactions, including activism, are owned by corporations from one part of the world, run by mainly white men? We need to create alternative forms of economic power around technologies. Using and sharing information about free and open-source software, tools and platforms is key to this.
Look love, Dame Stevie showed how it could be done. Copy that idea – that is, get off your arse and go and do something.
And then there’s this, the principles of the feminist internet:
Women and queer persons have the right to code, design, adapt and critically and sustainably
use ICTs and reclaim technology as a platform for creativity and expression, as well as to
challenge the cultures of sexism and discrimination in all spaces.
Well, off you go then. Do write when you’ve coded something, won’t you?