Women and Web

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (9:09 PM)

Ever since we read Poster, I’ve been chomping at the bit to talk about women and the internet.  ”The world has turned upside down, with many of our assumptions about time and space, body and mind, subject and object, gender, race, and class” (51).  Yes, I used that quote in an earlier blog post.  No, I don’t feel bad using it again.  Because when I read that quote, and, I hope, when some of you read that quote, I asked myself if Mark Poster and I could possibly be talking about the same internet.  Because I look at the internet, and I see a place that can make it pretty difficult to be a woman, and I think Quinn Norton and Amanda Hess’s articles can back that up, though they look at the issue entirely differently.

Phase 1 of the project, the idea of which I expect to continue into Phase 2, has largely been case study driven.  Some posts are longer, exploring questions of feminist theory or articles from class, and tying them into things I personally have come across on the internet.  Some are short, almost serving like a pinboard for snapshots of the larger picture.

The theoretical framework of my project is largely based in feminist theory — questions about rape culture and patriarchy — and especially how these things can become magnified in a simultaneously hyperconnected and yet more anonymous medium.  However, underlying this whole discussion is a reliance on Turner’s work in Counterculture to Cyberculture, because, like he rejects idea that the New Communalist communes really reflected a change in gender roles or cultural ideals, so it seems that the digital culture has not provided the escape from those things either.

Phase 2 aims to look more at solutions than Phase 1′s case studies do — we know there are problems with the way women on some sites are treated some times, but are there safe spaces on the internet?  Are there moves being made to open the community up?  There are women in Anonymous and on 4chan and Reddit: how do they navigate the system, and can we learn something from that?

Phase 2 will also look at intersectionality, because as Flavia Dzodan so eloquently put it: “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.”  It’s all well and fine to talk about women on the internet, but without talking about how all those other dimensions Poster mentions at the end of his quote change the way women experience online communities, it will be wholly incomplete.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it [I don't actually know if it's optional, you'd have to ask the professor about that one], is to answer the following questions either in the comments or in an email (, if you’re uncomfortable posting them in public.

  1. When you get on the internet, what are the first five things you do or sites you go to?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being incredibly unsafe/uncomfortable and 10 being very safe/comfortable), how do you feel on those sites?
  3. Have you ever been on a website that made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable?  What content drove that reaction, if so?
  4. Do you regularly go on Reddit, 4chan, or online forums?

Bonus round — Not at the same level as the previous questions [so don't feel obligated], but more for funzies, because they’re more exploratory/interactive.

  1. Go to and click through the front page or any of the sub-reddits or threads.  What’s the first thing you see that makes you uncomfortable?  If your answer to this is “nothing,” congratulations, you are now a Redditor.
  2. Check out my project blog,!

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Emily said...

1) Facebook: semi safe (settings on pretty private—5, but it does freak me out to know anyone technically can look at my profile and message me)
2) Richmond email (8—but who knows if Richmond can hack that…)
3) Instagram (7—I can control my followers and the privacy settings are more private)
4) Google (to look up some sort of information—6—I know that people can search my history)
5) Stalk my ex-bf (same as facebook)
I have been on chat roulette, for what reason I don’t know. But things get pretty strange on that site. I also felt uncomfortable looking at college ABC because it was always so nerve racking to wonder if you or your friends would be on it one day. 4 Chan can also be alarming depending on what page you look at (I looked at the paranormal page once). I never use reddit or 4chan, I only visited their websites the day we discussed them in class.

// 04/21/2014 at 9:33 pm

Molly said...

1)Usually when I go on the internet, the first thing i do is log into facebook. I will then usually check my email, and then go to various clothing store websites to online shop (or online window shop at least!). Its strange that I feel like i am on the internet for a good amount of time, but the sites i visit are very limited.

2 & 3) I think my level of safety is contingent on the site that i am on. When im shopping online, i rarely feel unsafe although sometimes i do worry about credit card information etc…. on facebook, i do feel more unsafe. on a scale of 1-10 i would probably rank it a 5. between the anxiety of not being able to fully control what pictures i’m being tagged in and who is writing on my wall I sometimes feel as though my own site is out of my control. Especially as i look for employment, the fear of something potentially threatening to that process is something that does make me feel unsafe.
Also, since its been brought to my attention in class discussion, i have become more aware of the advertisements that pop up on my facebook page and how they are related to other sites ive visited. that freaks me out! how do they know i want that dress? and how do they know i’m single? (weird, cheesy dating sites pop up on my facebook all the time) this such content has made become a little more sketched out by the websites i visit.

4) never been on reddit, 4chan etc.!

Bonus round:

1) i am officially a redditor i guess!

// 04/21/2014 at 9:36 pm

Piper said...

1 & 2. Facebook, usually just check my news feed and notifications (6, mostly because I worry about strangers seeing my page). Richmond email (9, the only think I can think of is that I log in using a username and password that is similar to ones I use on other websites), Blackboard (10), online clothing stores (7, if I use my credit card).

3. Some of the youtube to mp3 convertor websites make me uncomfortable because pop-ups and ads show up and I worry that I might get a virus or something if I accidentally click them.

4. Never been on any of those and I don’t really have an interest

// 04/22/2014 at 10:31 am

Alexandra said...

I think you are taking an interesting approach to a lot of the theoretical reading we have done through out the course. All of the discussion about the Internet freeing up society to explore social bounds and constructs, to break down the barriers that confined us, is flawed by the continuation of sexist and misogynist behavior that takes place online. I think it would be interesting to look into forums that support conversations of slut shaming and “rape culture”. I would suggest looking into online boards on sites such a and, which have whole sections dedicated to posting pictures of girls they deem to be attractive. This once again exemplifies the ability to objectify women on the Internet.

1. I typically check my facebook and will scroll through to see what posts I have missed throughout the day. Following I will check my messages, groups, and notifications. Than I will typically check my email, which more often than not will prompt me to start online shopping due to email flyers I get from companies. I will check out my homework on blackboard. If I am free that I will usually just go right to Netflix or hulu. Recently I have been checking the trending issues section on facebook often. This usually brings me into a researching spiral where I read article after article about current events.

2. I would say I feel about a 7. I get nervous when people tag in me photos that I haven’t seen first or something like that, but otherwise I feel pretty safe. I don’t engage in much online sharing.

3. Not that I can personally remember. I went one some pro-ana and mia sites in researching Molly and Emily’s project, which made me very uncomfortable.

4. No I never go on online forums.

// 04/22/2014 at 11:38 am

Sarah said...

1. Facebook-7 for the most part I always feel safe, I know who I’m friends with and who pops up on my news feed. I don’t tend to think about the unsafe factors unless I get a completely random friend request or facebook message.
2. Email-9 except for a few emails from stores or event services I can recognize either who is emailing me or why I am receiving that email this definitely gives me a sense of safety, can’t say I’ve ever felt threatened on my richmond email account
3. soundcloud/pandora/youtube-5 I usually go to listen to music from one of the mentioned sites… i feel a little less safe on these sites because I don’t know the settings as well (specifically with soundcloud and youtube) and I don’t know who can see my activity and what not
4. twitter-6 if i’m bored I’ll go to twitter and read what my friends or artists I follow are tweeting… my twitter is public so I don’t feel that safe or know who is viewing it but I’ve never felt I had a problem with that
5. random website…google, shopping, etc. -6 because I’m not sure who is keeping track of my clicks

I’ve been on reddit before and never felt unsafe because I’m just an observer I’ve never posted or don’t have an account… I went on 4chan after we discussed it in class and just felt a little violated by some photos on the /b/ board but never unsafe… I think that’s just because, again, I’m not a participant

// 04/22/2014 at 1:54 pm

Cora said...

(a) check my school email
(b) check my personal gmail
(c) check blackboard for hw assignments
(d) watch an episode of something on couchtuner
(5) surf some music blogs

2. 10

3. I have been on Chat Roulette a couple times and have been a bit anxious about what kind of people were coming my way. I think both times ended with me closing my computer at the sight of something unsettling. Usually, it’s people doing weird/ sexual things that no one wants to see…

4. I do not go on online forums

// 04/22/2014 at 3:41 pm

Cassaundra said...

1) Facebook- 8 because I have pretty strong privacy settings and am comfortable with my page, but I just don’t really like knowing that everything I post on it (even though its appropriate) will be on the web forever in one way or another.
2) My Richmond e-mail. 10 because you have to log in and even though some people could probable hack it (Snowden anyone?) I feel as though personal email accounts are fairly private and I have nothing to hide on there anyway.
3) My personal Gmail e-mail account. 10, same reasoning as #2.
4) Pinterest. 10 because I log in and have my own profile, but the point of Pinterest is to share what you find. There’s not personal information of mine on there, so if someone else also like an outfit or place I’ve pinned, I don’t mind of they see it or re-pin it.
5) It varies. The other four are my main sites, but other than that I’ll visit YouTube, Twitter, etc. sporadically.

I’ve never really been on a website that’s made me uncomfortable. Sometimes weird things have come up on Google image searches. And no, I do not visit Reddit, 4chan, or other online forums.

// 04/23/2014 at 12:00 pm

Kevin said...

1. 1)Gmail 2)Facebook 3) RottenTomatoes 4)Twitter 5)ESPN

2. On Facebook and Twitter, I would say my comfort level is about a 5. I trust the sites, but I sometimes worry about the idea that anything I choose to post is distributed to a large audience and left up to their individual interpretation. On Gmail, I would say its about a 9, and the only reason its not a 10 is because I know my information could be hacked (Side note: I really could not care less about the government having access to my email). And on RottenTomatoes and ESPN, it is definitely a 10 just because I am copletely separate from the information on these sites.

3. I feel unsafe with most online shopping portals that are not gigantic, reputable organizations. For example, I buy stuff on all the time, but I almost never purchase items off small boutique sites because I worry about my credit card information being stolen or my identity being compromised.

4. No, never.


1. Nothing. I never visit the site, but a lot of the info looked pretty interesting to me.

2. The videos you have included on your blog site work well in accordance with what appears to be your developing argument.

// 04/24/2014 at 12:25 pm

Eliza said...

1. When you get on the Internet, what are the first five things you do or sites you go to?
1. I check my Richmond email
2. Facebook
3. Pinterest
4. Youtube
5. Read the news page

2. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being incredibly unsafe/uncomfortable and 10 being very safe/comfortable), how do you feel on those sites?
I feel pretty safe on all of them to be honest. My Facebook (10) is very private and only my friends and some of their friends can search me and only see my picture, but no “About Me” information. 10: YouTube I also feel very safe on, I do not have an account so I just search movie trailers, music videos, etc to see what I want to see.

3. Have you ever been on a website that made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable? What content drove that reaction, if so?
Not really actually, because I do not click on random sites very often.

4. Do you regularly go on Reddit, 4chan, or online forums?

// 04/26/2014 at 11:49 am

Claire said...

1) First I would typically check my email and from there it would lead me to other sites second I would check pintrest third facebook and fourth Shopbop which is an online clothing retailer I check regularly. I am not that active on social media so I do not really check my accounts frequently.
2) 7
3) The only sites that I have felt uncomfortable or unsafe on are when pop ups lead me to sites I do not wish to be on. Pop ups in general make me feel uncomfortable because I know that they may be implanting a bug or virus on my computer and if they were going to this might be the easiest way to do it.
4) I do not

// 04/28/2014 at 12:40 pm