Cyberfeminism: A 21st Century Outlook
The emergence of digital media has redefined the scope of feminism and led to emancipation of women from socially constructed roles
Credits: The Guardian
April 11, 2022
The emergence of digital media has redefined the scope of feminism and allowed women to emancipate socially constructed roles through the use of the internet.
Feminism, the most fathomed yet controversial concept today, finds its genesis in the 19th and 20th centuries; with three waves defining the ideology in a social, political, and economic context. Carol Hanisch’s slogan ‘private is political’, and actions like heel trashing remain some of the significant events of this movement of celebrating the individuality of women and escaping the shackles of patriarchy.
Today, the emergence of digital media has redefined the scope of feminism and allowed the emancipation of women from socially constructed roles through the use of the internet. This concept of achieving gender equality through the use of digital space is what we term as ‘cyberfeminism.’
It is a utopian dream in a monstrous world for gender equality that opened a new avenue for the tech-savvy feminists around the globe to use the internet as a medium to express their views. This gave a sense of empowerment to the women and aided their psychological growth. The idea made news in many countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and Australia. Soon the developing countries also joined the bandwagon.
Credits: Al Jazeera
If we enter into the world of cyberspace, many of us will find that technology is opening up and broadening our horizons for the possibility of female emancipation.
Today, social media plays a pivotal role in promoting gender equality, especially in developing countries where feminism is still a relatively new concept. It has given wings to the under-constructed role of women in society.
In patriarchal setups, where there are barriers to the mobility of women, social media platforms have been revolutionary. There are hundreds and thousands of women entrepreneurs today who are running their own businesses from homemade meals to organic cosmetics, soap making to candle making, saree designing, pickle making, baking, and so on…
In the backdrop of the pandemic, these women have not only received economic empowerment, but the social media platforms have rather helped activists to strengthen their presence. They have been able to organize a number of online sessions, and have led campaigns to raise awareness among women to voice their struggles and also to form a cadre of like-minded women. This makes them fully self-sufficient, and in literal terms, empowered. Women eventually start believing in themselves, which positively impacts their self-esteem and confidence.
Concomitantly, if proper steps are taken to ensure that women take part in various programs, which focus on how they can make the foundation of any society, then this would ensure a potential rise in their self-worth.
However, that being said, we need to still be cognizant that there holds a dark reality. As much as social media has facilitated women’s empowerment and has scaffolded their psychological growth, we cannot do away with the challenges that go hand in hand. Instances like cyber-bullying, and humiliation has impacted the mental health of many women. Alas!
Although cyberfeminism has created waves, it has its fair share of hindrances. To maximize the utility of the internet to feminism, it is important to make it safe for women so that they can contribute to improving economic prosperity and be a part of the greater good. As they say, “Confronting fear can go two ways, biting bullets or bursting flowers. Choose the latter”.
(Author: Bhavya Chhabra works as a Lecturer at Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences)