Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Internet is a Fine Place for Women

"The electronic utopia will not be coming to a website near you," warns the author of this short article, Chuck Huff. This "electronic utopia" he speaks of is the idea (not an actual place or thing) that the Internet offers users a discrimination-free environment. He begins by describing the positive woman-to-woman interaction that is increasingly taking place in online communities. However, he admits that online discussion forums are dominated by males, who 'maliciously sexually harass' women who try to join in on the 'fun' (as compared to the 'dry and slightly boring corporate sites' that show no such discrimination). There are, as he mentions, though many different women and many different webs, so on the question of the webs hospitality, or lack thereof, to women, he says "the answer will depend on the particularities." I found it striking that he has heard from some women only positive feedback of the web; I wonder if these women have grown so accustomed to sexual harassment that is simply invisible to them when it comes to the web. I can undoubtedly admit that I would give a plethora of positive feedback if asked about my experiences with the Internet, but would be denying the truth if I said I had never experienced the harassment that Huff claims makes the Internet 'inhospitable' to women. I disagree on some planes with this idea though. While I don't condone, or like, advances made by men, they nonetheless are a part of life, cyber or otherwise, so to say that life is inhospitable to women as an absolute is a bit of a stretch.

Huff, Chuck. "The Internet in a Fine Place for Women." A Virtual Commonplace. Dec. 2007. Computers and Society. 5 Apr. 2007 - r3.html-.

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