In a recent conversation in my Feminism, New Media and Health honors course, we reflected on the different perspectives raised in two articles we had read regarding embodiment and cyberspace. In Jesse Daniel’s piece, “Rethinking Cyberfeminism(s): Race, Gender, and Embodiment”, she raises the point that cyberworld and the physical, corporeal lived experience do not exist in separate realities but are in fact infused and influenced by the other. The second article, “Wings of Freedom: Iranian Women, Identity, and Cyberspace”, Fereshteh Nouraie-Simone described how women’s access (specifically in Iran) and use of the internet is used a liberating tool where escaping the confinement and oppression of society is privately challenged. In Nouraie-Simone’ piece however, there is a sort of disconnect from the actual lived body in that cyberspace is used as a separate, private place in which a new identity is taken on, one in which women are autonomous and unclothed equals in society. Reflecting upon the various websites and blogs presented by classmates (check out a list of them on our class wiki) that represented the concept of using such mediums as a form of disembodiment, we discussed how and if this was experienced differently among the Global North and the Global South.
In reflection, it seems that the obvious difference is that for many in the Global South, the risk is much greater to speak freely and express basic human rights. While many blogs in the Global North that we hear of are, as one student put it, “depressing”, there are those who do not have the access to conventional freedoms such as those who are incarcerated and those who feel rejected or unsafe in public spaces to comfortably and openly express their true selves such as those who sexuality/gender does not fit the heterosexual norm. In society, there are always groups of individuals within the population who are not fairly treated due to systems of hierarchy. With this being the case, I feel that blogs in both the Global North and Global South reflects an equal need for the use of private space as a result of social inequality.
While I question the extent of the internets influential and reaching power, I can admit its potential ability to carry the indomitable voices of injustice and it’s potential in challenging the consciousness of society through the power of unreserved text and visuals. I would also say that the internet holds power for those who do not have the access, through the power of those who utilize this luxury to engage in cyber dialogue and unrestricted freedom of expression. And for the women and youth in Iran who hope to inspire a new revolution through their blogs, they give power to those who do not have the chance by breaking the silence and igniting social action.