Critical Networking



In the last few weeks I have enjoyed watching bloggers and readers of blogs from all over the world exchange ideas on various topics from a portrait of human stress in mechanical engineering terms, to an articulation of laughter, an intense back-and-forth about the politics of the niqab, and reflections on social media. It’s exciting to plug into an ongoing conversation about just-about-anything and hear voices from all over the world weighing in with different perspectives, worldviews, and insights as well as different biases, baggage, and fears. Blogging–and I’m a very green blogger–is an incredible tool for hashing out ideas, putting them through peer-review, bumping into strangers, making sweet and bitter connections, re-reading, re-writing, and maybe even deleting what we think, dream, and feel.

This morning I opened my gmail to find that there was a new post on confessions of a nymphet entitled If We’re Always in the Kitchen, I Guess You Won’t be Seeing Us in the Bedroom . As I dug into the prose I found an incisive review of the ways in which we use social media to not-so-cool and inspiring ends. Specifically, the proliferation of groups on Facebook that are formed around sexist ‘jokes’ or ideas. Tanya writes,

If you’ve got Facebook, you’ve probably noticed all the sexist groups on there, usually related to women either being in the kitchen or making sandwiches.

Do I really need to spell out why I’m writing this post?

They’re just not funny, it’s as simple as that. Okay, so you get the odd one that’s slightly amusing. I get that part of the humour would come from the fact that we’ve advanced so much that people feel that we can joke about things like that, because we live in a ‘post-feminist’ world where statements like that are funny because they’re so ludicrous, so it’s obvious that it’s a joke. And the fact that there are girls that join these groups just make it all the more difficult for girls who don’t think it’s funny to say anything about it without being accused of being a feminist with no sense of humour.

Maybe if we really did live in a world where there was no need for feminism, these groups could be considered amusing. But we don’t, and what’s more, I’ve seen some pretty disturbing pictures on these groups, like pictures of women with black eyes, all beaten up and captions like ‘This is what happens when women leave the kitchen’. If you think that’s funny, there’s something seriously wrong with you. How is domestic violence funny, exactly?

Tanya’s post brought many questions to my mind. Aside from the issues she directly addressed, namely, the trivialization of domestic violence and the so-called post-feminist world in which there is “no need for feminism,” it might also be useful to ask ourselves the following questions:

How much do I reflect on the ways in which I engage social media and those whom I encounter in virtual spaces?

Social networking is lauded as a means to make connections, share ideas, and broaden our perspectives; to what degree am I entering that medium with my arms, heart, and mind flung open?

Now that those of us with access to a computer, basic computing skills, and an internet connection are empowered to put forth a stronger voice and presence, are we using that opportunity responsibly or simply dumping on the fodder pile?

I’m not suggesting that the world we be a better place if we were all stuffy and self-conscious. Not at all. I am suggesting that the world would be a better place if we each made the effort to really consider what we LIKE (do I really like women getting punched in the face for “leaving the kitchen”?), what we JOIN, what we BLOCK, because though it may all seem a stream of digital confetti, in the end each of these bits is part of what composes your voice, your presence, and your content. In short, I’m waving a flag for REFLECTION.

Check out Tanya’s entire post here: http://confessionsofanymphet.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/if-were-always-in-the-kitchen-i-guess-you-wont-be-seeing-us-in-the-bedroom/

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About kalisaddhu

"The Method is to Know the Mind." View all posts by kalisaddhu

6 responses to “Critical Networking

  • tanyahaze

    First of all, thank you for the linkage 🙂
    I think that the ‘liking’ thing on Facebook is really interesting, partly because you realise that you’re not the only person who does/says certain completely random things, e.g. flipping your pillow over to get to the cold side, or staring aimlessly at the inside fridge for ages. It’s kind of cool.
    But it’s also interesting to see how certain types of groups go in and out of fashion- before the ‘kitchen/sandwich’ groups, there were ‘turban’ groups, and right now there are ‘LOL JK’ groups…a lot of people click ‘like’ in a moment of amusement without really realising the message they’re spreading. Especially because a lot of younger kids lie about their age to get Facebook accounts, and they’re exposed to all the sexism and stuff and it just becomes harder to shake those ideas as they get older.

  • If We’re Always in the Kitchen, I Guess You Won’t be Seeing Us in the Bedroom « Confessions of a Nymphet

    […] Update: Kelly from Minute Particulars wrote a really interesting post about social media and its impact on how people see each other and the world, quoting this post. Go check it out! […]

  • kmariej

    Hey, Tanya (which I recently learned from reading your blog is *not* your real name 🙂 )

    Yes, “a lot of people click ‘like’ in a moment of amusement without really realising the message they’re spreading” is exactly what I was getting at! If consumers of social media and producers of content (which usually get rolled into one, though the quality and quantity of the content varies) approach the media with an analytical and critical awareness of the meanings that the platform itself carries and certain other media literacies, there is tremendous potential for awakening. Power to the people to talk back, write back, engage–as in citizen journalists. I recently read a great book by Henry Jenkins call Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture (http://newmedialiteracies.org/) that talks about media literacies. It’s very cool! You can download an electronic copy for free.

    Thank you for the linkage! 🙂

  • Becky

    Thanks for the link. It’s true, social media can be used for anything… I see its ideal potential as a means to connect us and use it with the intention of creating positive change! 🙂

    • kmariej

      Hi, Becky, I wish we were neighbors! It would be so fun to drink a pot of masala chai and swap ideas for hours! xo Kelly

      Ha ha! That’s SWAP–no SWAMP as I originally wrote. lol

  • laugh III « Learn-Make-Think

    […] Critical Networking « Minute Particulars – May 27, 2010 […] ideas on various topics from a portrait of human stress in mechanical engineering terms, to an articulation of laughter, an intense back-and-forth about the politics of the niqab, and reflections on social media. […] […]

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