Performing Gender Online

The selfie and sexting phenomenons have brought into question so many issues of body ownership.  The idea that a person whose pictures are shared can be prosecuted for child pornography strips the people of ownership of their own person, a troubling notion.  Hasinoff cites victim-shaming and the perception of female sexuality as deviant as the main challenges of women using technology.

The celebrity nude photo leak last year was a powerful public example of the ways that we perceive these things.  Stemming from 4chan, one of the websites previously mentioned as a site where men often enact aggressive misogyny, hundreds of female celebrities’ photos were taken from their cloud accounts and posted online, available to download for anyone who chose to do so.  The reaction was to scrutinize the women (for it was all women) whose photos were released.  The media hounded these women, highlighting any appearance as ‘shameful’ or ‘dejected’ as though they had to feel shame for the release of the photos.  Women like Lena Dunham asked people not to view the photos as it was a personal violation, but only photos that were reportedly taken while targets were underage were removed from posts.

The technical difference between the censorship of underage bodies and unsolicited publishing still astonishes me.  For television, you have to sign a release for your likeness to appear on any show.  The internet and its lack of regulation has somehow eliminated adults’ control over their own images.  By posting a photo, an online user gains assumed ownership of the photo without any question of authenticity. This frightening idea leads to cat fishing, revenge porn, and a paranoia of online presence that causes undue stress.

Gram’s notion of the Young-Girl and using the selfie as a tool of empowerment reveals the fine line that trying to use photos as media production can backfire and allow for continued subjugation. As Allison’s story demonstrated last week, the line between empowered use and selfish exploitation is determined entirely by the public audience, and girls must navigate this in the midst of the real-world historical view of female puberty and sexualization as a frightening experience for the family, whose job is to protect their child’s purity.  Technology provides a way to hide your identity; you can log out before your parents see, erase your browser history, or come up with a new name.  But others on the internet can manipulate your profile, post things without your permission, or completely hack your accounts and take away all of your identity.

Photos used to exist in physical albums held in cabinets and on coffee tables, shown to friends when they came over for dinner.  Now our albums are public, one of the first things people see when we connect on the Internet.  It makes me wonder if the memories encapsulated online are really there for public consumption, or if we should find a different way to save our memories.

Source: Performing Gender Online

Skip to toolbar