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Inhabiting Or Occupying the Web?: Virtual Communities and Feminist Cyberactivism in Online Spanish Feminist Theory and Praxis

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Abstract

This article examines the relationships between gender and technology in Spanish feminist praxis online and argues that different perspectives on online feminist community-building offer distinct responses to cyberactivism, which is considered central to sustaining efforts for social change. To ascertain whether Spanish virtual communities and cyberactivism have the potential to address the challenges posed by the relations between gender and technology, we analyse feminist scholar Remedios Zafra's theoretical proposals, and the different ways in which this theory intersects with the cyberactivism put forth by two feminist web portals, Ciudad de Mujeres and Mujeres en Red. We will discuss to what degree particular Spanish feminist theory and practice online adapts to or challenges utopianism regarding the liberating potential of technology. We will also examine how, in the face of critical arguments about such liberatory possibilities, two options present themselves for women's effective use of technology: inhabiting or occupying the web through the construction of feminist communities online.

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... These online feminist initiatives are what Paasonen has called 'feminism in cyberspace ' (2011: 337). Initially, as we can infer from specialised literature about cyberfeminism's development in Spain (Nu´n˜ez Puente and Garcı´a, 2011c;Reverter, 2013), certain online feminist collectives, especially those linked to the utopian position of the theorist and activist Angustias Bertomeu, appeared in connection to the 1990s wave of theoretical critique which idealised the internet as a space of empowerment for women (Nu´n˜ez Puente and Garcı´a, 2011c). Although, as we have pointed out, scholarly literature on Spanish cyberfeminism attests to the pertinence of using this term to define Spanish digital feminist practice, in this article we will do without it, using instead the concept of 'online feminist practice', thereby avoiding the problems deriving from the different meanings associated with the term cyberfeminism (Paasonen, 2011: 346). ...
... These online feminist initiatives are what Paasonen has called 'feminism in cyberspace ' (2011: 337). Initially, as we can infer from specialised literature about cyberfeminism's development in Spain (Nu´n˜ez Puente and Garcı´a, 2011c;Reverter, 2013), certain online feminist collectives, especially those linked to the utopian position of the theorist and activist Angustias Bertomeu, appeared in connection to the 1990s wave of theoretical critique which idealised the internet as a space of empowerment for women (Nu´n˜ez Puente and Garcı´a, 2011c). Although, as we have pointed out, scholarly literature on Spanish cyberfeminism attests to the pertinence of using this term to define Spanish digital feminist practice, in this article we will do without it, using instead the concept of 'online feminist practice', thereby avoiding the problems deriving from the different meanings associated with the term cyberfeminism (Paasonen, 2011: 346). ...
... The critical revisioning of cyberfeminism has generally revolved around awareness of the politicisation of technology, thus contributing to feminist demands about the increasingly technologised practices of life (Basset, 2013: 205), and to feminist concern for the participatory aspects of social media and online resources, moving beyond 1990s cyberfeminism's utopian visions (Thornham and Weissmann, 2013: 8). It therefore seems pertinent to review, as we have done in the following analysis, the participatory possibilities offered by technology, instead of insisting on an utilitarian and/or utopian version of the internet that, as we have observed in our previous research, undergirds most activist feminist webpages against gender-based violence (Nu´n˜ez Puente, 2011b;Nu´n˜ez Puente and Garcı´a, 2011c). Thus, we shall see how the webpages we analyse have an eminently static character and do not promote interaction or dialogue as a form of agency for activists and those who experience gender-based violence. ...
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Netianas: n(h)acer mujer en Internet, Madrid: Ediciones Lengua de Trapo. doi: 10. 1057/fr. 2011.36 54 fe m i n i St re vi e W 99 2011 inhabiting or occupying the web? This content downloaded from 128
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Zafra, R. (2005) Netianas: n(h)acer mujer en Internet, Madrid: Ediciones Lengua de Trapo. doi: 10. 1057/fr. 2011.36 54 fe m i n i St re vi e W 99 2011 inhabiting or occupying the web? This content downloaded from 128.193.164.203 on Thu, 15 Jan 2015 04:55:18 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions