Upcoming events: Femhack Montreal, AdaCamp, Theorizing the Web, and Circuits of Struggle

I’ve got a few (un)conferences coming up, and I’m looking forward to opportunities to connect with academics, activists, and others working at the intersection of politics and technology.

Global Justice and the Politics of InformationMy presentations for Theorizing the Web and the Union of Democratic Communications conference, Circuits of Struggle, are focusing on some of the challenges that geek feminism raises to mainstream digital liberties activism. I’m very proud of my book, and think it makes important arguments about how the struggle for democratic control of digital technologies contributes to broader social justice projects (you should read it! If you can’t afford to buy it, let me know and I can give you a copy in exchange for a review). But at the same time, I think there are some key gaps in it.

I began writing about the digital liberties movement a long time ago, and my analysis has shifted in important ways over the last few years. In my book, and this article, I noted the limitations of the movement’s politics, which tend to be reformist, with a liberal or libertarian (in the US sense of the word) focus. Geek feminism is making interesting and important challenges to that perspective, and I want to do more to highlight those challenges.

FemHackFor the Femhack Montreal workshop on ‘Autonomous Infrastructures as feminist hacker practices’ I’m going to be revisiting some of our Mapping Movements work, in this case looking at how Greek activists are resisting online surveillance and censorship by building their own networks and communication structures.

AdaCamp is an unconference, so I have no idea what I’ll be talking about (if anything), but I loved the last AdaCamp I went to so I’m sure it’ll be thought-provoking. I’m helping out running the lightning talks, so if you’re going please consider giving one!


[Edit: I recommend that you read the comments, as the author of the poster has explained her reasons for creating it in more detail.]

Yesterday, Glyn Moody linked approvingly to a poster on the G8Internet site, saying: “Failminism – http://bit.ly/mExbAz ever noticed how many women are involved in copyright enforcement initiatives? @sinkdeep has…”

The fact that there are at least four women (yes! a whole four women are pictured on the poster!) participating in the eG8 is framed as:

a) cause for comment, and

b) clearly the fault of feminism.

On the first point, I wonder how male-dominated your environment needs to be before you think that having a few women involved in something is worth making a poster about? And I’m fairly sure that the eG8 isn’t dominated by women, because if it was there would have been discussion flying around the blogosphere about it. People notice that kind of thing.

On the second…yes, in a roundabout way, feminist struggles have been responsible for opening up opportunities for women to be involved in powerful institutions, and inevitably that means that some women have chosen to participate in institutions that are not progressive. Because women, like men, are a mixed bag. People are like that: some of them will disagree with you and do things you disapprove of.

This poster is implicitly asks: “why are so many women involved in the eG8?” and comes up with the answer: “feminism”. There’s no accompanying poster that asks: “why are so many men involved in the eG8?” or “what is it about men that means they dominate messed-up institutions like the eG8?”

There’s also no acknowledgement that feminist struggles have helped to pave the way for the many women who have become lawyers and computer scientists and activists of a thousand stripes who can contribute to the digital liberties movement.

Every little unnecessary sideswipe at feminism, every misogynistic joke, every bit of homophobia, helps to make the digital liberties movement just a little more unwelcoming for people like me.

On my way to work I was listening to Silvia Federici’s excellent talk on how movements can heal us, and she said something like, “you should not be alienated from the processes that are meant to liberate you”. And I thought: why am I working so hard to contribute to a movement when so many of those involved take every opportunity to devalue my involvement? And some days I don’t know the answer.