Sara Perry: Gender and Digital Culture Project

I, unfortunately, missed Anita Sarkeesian’s talk on Friday. But I attended the following sessions after in Regents Hall. I stayed for all of the guest speakers, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The four women, Sara Perry, Lindsay Ems, Burcu Bakioglu, and Dara Byrne all spoke about various things regarding new media communication. For this blog, I will focus on Sara Perry’s presentation. Perry is the director of digital heritage and lecturer at the University of York. She has named her work as the focus of Gender and Digital Culture, and has a WordPress dedicated to it. She began her study after she started to receive private messages from her professional colleagues regarding her sexuality and appearance. She said she was scared and confused over the matter, so she ignored them, initially. She eventually started to research other women and professionals that have been targeted in the same way, and from that research, began the Gender and Digital Culture project. She expects her project to foster dialogue, participation, intellectual change, equality democracy and liberation. From her slide show, it continued that it is “hyped as a means to achieve knowledge transfer, public accountability, access, and impact,” as well as expose the issue of “hyper-exposure.” Perry explained hyper-exposure as people with good intentions tend to make themselves more active and visible, and they are somewhat expected to from employers and social norms, but Perry questioned, “What protections does an individual have when they are forced to be hyper-exposed?”

Perry then summarized her findings from the survey she sent out. She received over 400 responses from professionals from a wide array of different fields. Nearly 1/3 of the people who responded to the survey spoke that they received inappropriate communication in digital media, and at least 58% of those messages were from people they knew from offline. I think what I found most interesting from Perry’s talk was how these adults were handling being victims of cyber sexual harassment. I feel like teenagers and my generation is so harshly criticized over sexts and naked pictures, yet there is absolutely no mention of professional adults receiving harsh, widely inappropriate messages from their COWORKERS and even BOSSES.   Perry said that the most highly reported way people responded to these messages was just to ignore it, and the few people that did either publicly or privately address the issue were not satisfied with the results it yielded.  I think that by the time my generation enters the professional fields, I don’t think these types of issues will be as present. One reason I believe this is because of what Sara Perry finished up her speech with. She concluded her talk by saying we all have a “duty of care,” meaning that we all have a responsibility to monitor bad online media practices, and we must make sure that we have this type of protection – it must be mandated by companies and employers, which I whole-heartedly agree with. But the other reason I think that those types of issues won’t be a problem for my generation is because my generation has been using new media technology basically since we were born, and I feel that we create the norms and terms of acceptability much more than the next oldest generation does.

Do you think that when our generation enters the workplace, that we will still be facing high statistics of inappropriate messages from our colleagues and bosses? Or do you think we will be passed that?


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