Meta: In which the internet is sharp on both sides

August 15, 2010 § 3 Comments

by MIRANDA

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Zeilinger, founder and editor of The F-Bomb. We talked of the teenage girls; we drank of the caffeinated beverages. It was bliss, basically.

I was reminded again of how important human interaction is to my feminism. Because this business can be lonely! Thinking about sexual violence, for example, while immensely important and rewarding, is actually not the most relaxing activity. In a culture where acts of rape, assault, and harassment are still not taken seriously, talking about them can be isolating — especially on the internet. In our dark rooms with our hunched shoulders and our bright little boxes, we are plugged in but we are also deeply disconnected.

So here is where I explain the title of this post: The internet is a sword. Since I am feeling poetic, it is probably laden with rubies and polished within an inch of its life. And like most swords, it has two edges. One side? Is amazing. It lets me read the words of ridiculously smart people who I’ve never met, who live so far away. And it lets me write words back! And people read them! And validate my ramblings!

But the other side is darker. It leaves me tired and sad, alone with my bright box and no one to hug. The sense of power that allows me to write about a deeply upsetting experience is the same sense of power that allows a commenter to joke about raping me. It’s the same sense of power that creates nauseating “blogwars.” Full or partial anonymity can be delicious, but it can also be a poison.

I love me some Internet Feminism. But I don’t want my whole life to be online, and I don’t want to feel as though every waking moment must be devoted to Very Important Lady-Thinking. Because — this is a secret, but I am willing to share it with you — it is okay, really, to not think about feminism all the time.

Internet Feminism is a mighty sword, but it’s not the only weapon we’ve got. Sometimes coffee and conversation can be just as powerful.

§ 3 Responses to Meta: In which the internet is sharp on both sides

  • Adi says:

    I totally agree with this, and this from someone for whom discovering the Internet was like a miracle. Now that I’m out of college, the fact that most of my hobbies (while not all Internet- or computer-based) are solitary is really coming home to me.

  • […] Meta: In which the internet is sharp on both sides by Miranda at Women’s Glib, on Internet feminism. The internet is a sword. Since I am feeling poetic, it is probably laden with rubies and polished within an inch of its life. And like most swords, it has two edges. Welcome to ZatB! My name is Chally. This blog is mostly about life and social justice. You can contact me at chally dot zeroatthebone at gmail dot com. I also write at at Feministe, FWD/Forward and Radical Readers and coordinate the Down Under Feminists Carnival. […]

  • Miss Addict says:

    I get this so so much. I think in a lot of ways (maybe this is just me) the internet is a relief. Its reaching out and going “OMG I am not the only one who can’t watch TV without analysing the ads and wanting to throw things some days” and being able to find hundreds of people who understand, debate and understand your views rather than stare blankly at you when you pull them up on sexism, rape humour or any number of belittling things (if you do rather than just grit your teeth) is like letting go of a breath you have been holding all day long.

    But its lonely! And I am the only feminist I know. I need to find more because while my bright box is wonderful… I need those hugs!

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