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Armchair Misogyny: Communicative Forms of Online E-Bile

(Working title!)

So I have been a little bit hesitant about posting on the blog, partly because I have never used a blog before and so needed some ‘figuring out’ time and also because I have found it challenging to decide on only one idea. Until now I have had quite a few partial and fragmented ideas based on what I have found interesting on the course so far and I have also battled with how much this project should or shouldn’t correlate with my overall PhD thesis. However, last week’s lecture on gender and the Web, along with the seminar readings, really engaged me and assisted in clarifying an interdisciplinary project idea.

I am under no illusion that this idea is coherent or fully formed yet but I propose to investigate the notion of ‘armchair misogyny’ on social networking platforms. Although the Web is not an artifact ascribed with misogyny, I do believe it enhances misogynistic potential through the creation of echo chambers where group identities related to this type of hate speech can be assimilated and enhanced. Furthermore, the utopian vision of disembodiment and anonymity has become an intrinsic aspect in the deployment and culpability of ‘e-bile’ on social networks.

Google Proves Misogyny is Alive and Well

As a way to investigate this proposed area I aim to consider a philosophical perspective; particularly the ethical considerations in posting these types of messages. Ploug, in his book ‘Ethics in Cyberspace’, considers the conditions that govern certain types of communication on the Web and how these differ from ‘face-to’face’ interactions, which subsequently can affect the behavior of the interacting agent. Emmanuel Levinas’ theory about ‘the face of the other’ also implies the existence of an ethically relevant difference between interaction in cyberspace and ‘face-to-face’ interaction. Here Levinas constructs the notion of the transcendent face which constitutes not only human existence, since it is tied to the presence of the body, but also moral responsibility to others. Subsequently, since there is no bodily face tied to the spatial and temporal existence of another user on the Web this effects the ethical and moral choices of the interacting agent and may shed light on why people post these messages online but often would not communicate them to someone when walking in the street for example.

My proposed project also ties in to gender theory but I am also considering including criminology in my study (not that I have any experience in this discipline!). I feel that criminology might be able to shed some light on theories of culpability on the Web in terms of posting misogynistic statements and how it fits into the notion of crime. This will require further reading in order recognize how criminology may or may not fit in to my current project idea….

2 thoughts on “Armchair Misogyny: Communicative Forms of Online E-Bile

  1. Anna says:

    Hi Clarissa,

    I love the idea, i also really connected with this lecture. I think it would be interesting to look at Cyberfeminism, mentioned in Haraway’s article. I think this would help start to look at how women have become empowered on the web, and then relating to your topic being able to see how it has not helped empower women. The questions the article really bought up for me were Does this therefore give women more power? Does the web give women an equal level to men, a platform for equality? Are women just as culpable as men at giving out verbal abuse online?

    I am not sure how relevant this is to what you want to look into, but i wanted to share my reflections on the lecture (and your blog post). I look forward to seeing what your project turns into.


    • Clarissa Brough says:

      Thanks for your comment Anna! The theory of Cyberfeminism definitely relates to this project (even if some of Haraway’s argument was challenging to read!) and you have given me some questions and a perspective I hadn’t fully considered including.


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