Week 12 Discussion

Marwick, Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminists (Helena)

This article talks about the treatment of women online.  It centers around the Donglegate incident, in which a female attending a tech conference tweeted a picture of two men making sexist joke behind her, for which she was overwhelmingly harassed online for doing.  Marwick addresses that there is an inequality in how men vs women are treated online.  There is sexism in the tech industry, yet when women try to address it, they are violently harassed online for bringing it up. Marwick introduces that there is growing support for “Men’s Rights Activism”, where many men online have been going to an extreme to challenge feminism online, trying to discredit it and saying that men face more discrimination than women.  While men do have their own struggles, there is hard evidence that women have been the ones more oppressed, yet these men are going to great lengths to “prove” otherwise.  All of this is part of an effort to in a way silence women in the tech world,. It is discouraging women to speak out in the virtual world or make a place for themselves there without facing ridicule for it.  Sexism online is a real issue and needs to be addressed, just as in the real world.

1. How does this article relate to some of the obstacles that we’ve seen Anita Sarkeesian has had to face as a woman in the tech world?

2. What was your reaction to “Men’s Rights Activism”? Do you think men have a valid argument or not?

Taylor, How the Cult of Internet Openness Enables Misogyny (Marissa)

The Web is often hailed as being open. But, open does not translate into equality. Real world inequalities appear online very often, as online benefits go disproportionately to well-off white males. Internet access may not be the utopia that was expected, as race, class, and gender all play a role in amount of online participation. Males often participate more online than females, while those of a higher socioeconomic class often participate more than those who make less money.
Women are also assumed to be less technically competent than males, and women often view themselves this way as well. Additionally, women are harassed more often online. Even when people are only assumed to be female based upon their user name, the chances of harassment to skyrocket.

1. Is true and equality possible online until these values are present in real life?
2. Do you think the Web can be a utopia after all of the issues and discussions brought up in class about this?
3. After reading the summary, how would the males and females in the class rank their technological literacy? Why would you rank it so?

Davies, Things I Learned From #WomenAgainstFeminism (Helena)

This is actually a pretty funny article.  This article aims to make a parody out of many of the misconceptions about feminists. It also takes a look at the #WomenAgainstFeminism hashtags and analyzes them in a comical feminist light.  This whole article revolves around the fact that many people have the wrong idea about what feminism is.  They see feminists as some crazy, man-hating, hairy legged, ranting women who hate everything about being a woman.  Yet, in reality, that is all just a misconception. The definition of Feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”  Considering that and if you research modern-day feminism, I think most people would consider themselves a feminist in the basic sense of the word.  This article put a hilarious spin on the weak arguments many people place against feminism.

  1. What do you think of when you think of feminism?
  2. Would you consider yourself a feminist?
  3. Did you find this article amusing? Why or why not?

Scalzi, Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is (Marissa)

In this reading Scalzi, a straight white male, gives the reader a metaphor for privilege. He claims the actual word privilege tends to make white males shut off and disregard an argument. His hypothetical game “The Real World” poses the reader as a player in this massive online role playing game. As the player, you pick the easiest setting, which is Straight White Male. He explains that, on this setting, gameplay is automatically easier. The player can more easily access help, you start out with more points than other difficulty settings, and even if you play rather poorly, you still move up pretty easily. All of this, he says, is the equivalent of a real straight white male’s life, in comparison to a woman or person of color, or someone of a different sexual orientation.

1. Is this an effective metaphor to compare the lives of straight white males and minorities?
2. Is this argument more or less effective coming from a straight white male?

Life’s ‘Lowest Difficulty Setting’: John Scalzi Explains Privilege to Nerds” – Channing Kennedy

This reading was an interview between blogger, Channing Kennedy, and Sci-Fi novelist/blogger, John Scalzi. The interview was centered on the article/blog post put up by Scalzi regarding the existence of white privilege, but defined in gaming terms. Privilege can defined as the difficulty settings in a game. Sometimes, you enter into a game at a certain level of difficulty, regardless of your own efforts. The lowest difficulty setting would be white, male, and straight.

Channing wanted to follow up on the backlash this post received and the outcome of his statements. After some time and many, many nasty and dissenting opinions on the post, Scalzi elected to take down the post. But, he came to terms with the commenting and the disagreements that arose, “What’s going on in a comment thread isn’t indicative of what’s happening when people read the article” (Scalzi). The major issues and topics addressed by Scalzi were definitely going to cause a stir, but he makes a good point in recognizing the power of agreeable and disagreeable comments.

Covered by: Dana D’Onofrio

Discussion questions:

  1. Do you think it is the place of Sci-Fi, as a genre, to address and tackle social justice issues/topics?
  2. Does Scalzi’s metaphor of gaming difficulty settings fit into the topic of white privilege?

Lecture Ideas:

  • The topic and role of the genre of Sci-Fi regarding social justice issues online.
  • The power of the reader and commenting capabilities in online spaces
  • Which idenfiiers (race, gender, sexuality, religion, wealth, ethnicity, etc.) should be entered into the conversations about white privilege

Cybertyping and the work of race in the Age of Digital Reproduction” – Lisa Nakamura

This reading is focused on the existence of neologisms in the field of computer science, more specifically neologisms coined in reference to issues of race and racism. Nakamura engaged in the online world and defined a new neologism known as “cybertyping”; which is the distinctive ways in which the internet propagates, disseminates, and commodifies images of race and racism. According to Nakamura, this topic was untouched in internet neologisms.

Nakamura assess the different aspects of computer science and how it affects cybertyping. First off, she recognizes the different layers of new media. The first layer is the cultural layer, which can be described as the content of the web/internet/media. The other layer is the computer layer, which is seen as the infrastructure and/or interface of media. There is a lot of give and take in the realm of new media, and as such, stereotypes are created, disbanded, ignored, etc. Telecommunications and medical technologies are main contributors in challenging, producing, and reflecting on stereotypes in the digital world.

Nakamura goes on to discuss what is being down to address race and racism in this digital age. One major step forward, she states, is the efforts being done to equalize access to the internet by all. She also addresses specific case studies and certain minorities affected by cybertyping.

Covered by: Dana D’Onofrio

Discussion questions:

  1. In this reading, Manovich is cited to say, “Culture is becoming computerized”. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think cybertyping is an effective neologism in addressing the subject of racism in the internet? Why or why not?

Lecture Ideas:

  • Inspecting the specific races effected, harmed, exploited, etc. by in online communities.
  • The question of where and how we define our culture; inside and/or outside the confines of the internet.
  • The effectiveness of equalizing access to the internet across the world.
  • The presence of multiculturalism in multimedia
  • Examine what exactly it means to be a feminist in today’s society. Look at some of the myths and some of the facts of feminism.
  • Compare and contrast feminism in the real world compare and feminism in the virtual world.

Coates, White Privilege (Maxwell)

In this reading the author correlates his experience to that of “Beautiful Struggle” which he recently read.  He grew up in a less fierce world.  He stressed that his identity isn’t based on the lower end of losing the privilege that whites have.  He knows that Racism had some affect on his life.  To him, he came from a good family:  good parents and siblings.  His house had lots of books and his father worked in the literary industry.  He would not trade a thing, even to have grown up in a household with more money, he loved his childhood.

1.  How would you define “white privilege?”

2. How would you define “black privilege?”

Sindelókë, Of Dogs and Lizards, A parable of privilege (Maxwell)

The goal of the author is for the reader to recognize the privilege of themselves and others.  She uses of a metaphor of a lizard and a big dog living together in a house in Ohio.  The dog always makes the temperature of the house comfortable for himself, the lizard is unable to speak with him or communicate with him.  Also the lizard is so small that she cannot adjust the temperature for herself.  The best she can do is curl under a heated light.  The dog in this situation is privileged the lizard is not.  Just like a man can never feel the threat a woman feels from a catcall.  The author concludes that fearful things exist that you can’t feel, this is privilege.

1. How do you and how do you not feel privileged?

2. How do you define privilege?

Lecture Ideas


I suspect the idea of privilege will be brought up in class.

I think a good topic could be how we in first world cultures are privileged with advanced technology.

The privilege of being a certain gender.

The privilege of online accessibility, having the whole world at our fingertips.


Based on the Taylor reading, I suspect there may be a discussion based upon why men spend more leisure time online than females. The reading makes it clear that this is caused by real life stereotypes and discrimination. For instance, in real life, women are expected to work and still take on the majority of domestic duties, thus leaving them less time to spend online.

What reasons could contribute to the fact that those of lower socioeconomic standing participate online less than those of a higher socioeconomic standing.

Why are women harassed more online. Could this go along with the game industry mentality of a “boys club?”

I feel like a discussion of what privilege is would be very relevant to these readings.


Examine what exactly it means to be a feminist in today’s society. Look at some of the myths and some of the facts of feminism.

Compare and contrast feminism in the real world compare and feminism in the virtual world.

Look at men’s role in feminism: how they help and/or hinder it.

Additional Reading


https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/18827/MeaningAndIdentity.pdf?sequence=2 (Author: Lori Kendall)


This blog addresses and analyzes the aftermath of Scalzi’s white privilege post: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/17/lowest-difficulty-setting-follow-up/










Helena Added Note:

Our digital artifact is in alignment with this week and if you would like to see additional articles related to this week, visit our page Peace on the Web on Facebook or out Twitter, @peaceontheweb!


Also: What did people think of the videos we watched? What did you mention in your reflection? Some of us might not have thought that there were many gender divides in our media but many may have just been too deeply rooted for us to really see. How did this week change your perspective, if at all? I thought it was interesting to see how inequalities in the real world translate to the virtual world and how in each world we are relatively blind to them because we are just so used to them.  We still have some work to do! The internet almost seems to be taking us back a step, how I see it.  We need to keep moving forward toward equality, not backward!



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