In plain sight, on sexuality, rights and the internet in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka

In plain sight, on sexuality, rights and the internet in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka

EROTICS Sexuality and internet

A feminist framework at the intersection of Internet with sexuality and rights

How to make sense of what we experience? How to use evidence to transform? Which frameworks to use? And why a feminist framework? The first most simple and direct answer would be: why not?! EROTICS fits within the the Feminist Principle of the internet that “want to provide a framework for women’s movements to articulate and explore issues related to technology and to offer a gender and sexual rights lens on critical internet-related rights”.

In 2014 the Association for Progressive Communication – Women’s Rights Programme (APC-WRP) brought together 52 women’s rights, sexual rights and internet rights activists from six continents together in Malaysia to #imagineafeministinternet. Many at this meeting were part of the first iteration of the EROTICS global network that had led research on sexuality in seven countries. The questions raised at the meeting were – “What does it take to create a feminist internet? Is a feminist internet possible? How has the internet shifted the way we understand power, politics, activism and agency?” There was a need felt to have a political compass around the internet, on how to use and share, to build upon while contributing to movement building, proposing legislation, create new narratives.

What does it take to create a feminist internet? Is a feminist internet possible?

In 2015, a second convening expanded the Feminist Principles of the Internet after an intense year of local conversations, suggestions, insights. EROTICS network participated again, bringing its spirit, knowledge, evidences and practices. The conversation deepened and five clusters grouped 17 principle: access, movement, economy, expression and agency, which in 2017 during the third meeting Making a feminist Internet, became embodiment.

One of the elements of any political vision is the perspective, the s/place or the location from where we look and interrogate the world. Rosi Braidotti in her Nomadic Subjects talk about “a sustainable modern subjectivity as one in flux, never opposed to a dominant hierarchy yet intrinsically other, always in the process of becoming, and perpetually engaged in dynamic power relations both creative and restrictive”.[1 endnote] This becomes important in today’s world dominated by those living in the global north. What it underlines is that embodiment is not merely theoretical or rhetorical device but an important element of lived experiences and our shared politics. Quoting bell hooks in her Margins to Center:

“Living as we did—on the edge—we developed a particular way of seeing reality. We looked from both the outside in and the inside out. We focused our attention on the center as well as the margin. We understood both. This mode of seeing reminded us of the existence of a whole universe, a main body made up of both margin and center (hooks 2000:xvi)”.

It is a quote that resonates with understanding the internet – where margins and center are revolving because of very complex and intrinsic relationships.

A research, can be approached in different ways and with different purposes. If the purpose is transformation then it is important to set the ground. A good way to visualize online social construction with “gender norms, stereotypes and inequality that exist offline” is to use the Gender at Work framework.

Gender at Work Framework for change
Gender at Work Framework for change

The four-quadrant framework distinguishes two polarities: (1) individual and systemic change, and (2) formal (visible) and informal (hidden) experience. Having said that, to generate changes all quadrants need to be engaged, is important to pay attention to the left hand quadrant to understand “the largely invisible and expensive-to-track areas of individual attitudes and collective norms and values that ultimately influence our choices, our attitudes and our actions. There are two dimensions to monitoring and changing individual attitudes that perpetuate gender discrimination on the internet (the upper left-hand quadrant). Firstly, there is the power of the internet to track and change the attitudes of those who actively promote or enable gender discrimination, both online and offline; secondly, there are the attitudes of women themselves, who can encounter both empowerment and disempowerment within the power of the internet”.

Firstly, there is the power of the internet to track and change the attitudes of those who actively promote or enable gender discrimination, both online and offline; secondly, there are the attitudes of women themselves, who can encounter both empowerment and disempowerment within the power of the internet.

Understanding and recognizing the existence of hidden normative experiences at individual and collective level is necessary to understand how and what obstructs change, how transformation moves from individual to collective awareness, then to consciousness and eventually leads to change in behavior and discourse. This is a way to acknowledge the existence of visible, invisible and hidden powers. But this is not enough because internet has its own super-power and cannot be dismissed. Following Jac sm Kee classification there are five layers of power relevant and specific to internet:

Structural power: Internet is about connecting end-users this tell us that access pose the issue of structural power. Who has the power to land the cables, the satellites, the drones? Who decide about the last mile, the costs of the services? Who has no say in tariff, kind of access broadband and flat rate vs data and wi-fi. It can enact very conservatively but can be very innovative if we think of the power to create community owned infrastructure that are outside the mainstream internet, that can stay off-grid or connect to other similar collective-owned infrastructures shaped by very specific local needs.

Discursive power: “Discourse is more material”[2 endnote] than ever and internet gives us “the capacity to create our own truths. Our own knowledge. Have unknown histories and practices be collectively shaped and known. From indigenous communities to queer communities”.

If we think retrospectively it was very difficult to find women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), but nowadays there are timelines, stories, books, comics of women from all over the world innovating and contributing to this field. So that Ada Lovelace can be a Lego kit. The internet enables the “ability to participate in influencing discourse, shaping culture, which is arguably one of the most important shifts in power. Because it’s about what is invisible: our understanding, attitudes, beliefs, that then influences our practices.”

The internet enables the “ability to participate in influencing discourse, shaping culture, which is arguably one of the most important shifts in power. Because it’s about what is invisible: our understanding, attitudes, beliefs, that then influences our practices.

Economic power: the power of generating economic models and revenue, from the first ebay to the last start up. Here also we need to look at which kind of models are proposed. Capitalist, based on generating high profit and controlling an entire market as Amazon, or developing different economic models such as crypto-currency (bitcoins) with collective mining, elimination of traditional intermediary, or open and free source software where the technical solution, the code is open and, collective intelligence become the common pond for a mutual exchange between the individual and the community.

Embodied power: Internet and pleasure, internet as s/place to overcome limitations of mobility, accessibility from the simple creation of a mailing list, organizing of communities with disability to remote controlled sex-toys to erotics chats. Different ways of experiencing pleasure that trouble the notion of pornography itself: feminist porn awards that celebrates consent, good labor practices in the porn industry, etc.

Anonymity online makes the exercise of autonomy, agency and dignity more possible, allowing for people to explore to seek community, to push the envelop of respectability and of social norms. This is the story of many queer communities around the world. But body on or in the internet means data, and there are extensive national IDs projects and biometrics where individuals become what their data says about them. What is the implication of these multiple data sets, and what mechanisms available or what rights are there when errors are made? How does all this impact the lives of people?

Networked power: the last and the most celebrated, the one everyone recognize as the super-power of internet, the power of connecting and creating networks. Quoting Jac sm Kee “Most importantly, it connects us. Allows us from becoming weird atomized individuals to find others who are interested in, care about, concerned about the same things. Enables us to organise, have conversations, plan for collective action, take things to different spaces, make shifts across the different layers of power, occupy different spaces. Because the characteristic of the internet, is essentially one that is networked. It is about connections. And the freedom to make connections, towards the shift and change we collectively believe in, is an important one”.

The characteristic of the internet, is essentially one that is networked. It is about connections. And the freedom to make connections, towards the shift and change we collectively believe in, is an important one.

To transform the internet, to generate the changes necessary to intersect sexuality, rights and the internet we use the feminist principles of the internet (FPIs). Their function is to give to researchers, activists and users a compass or a reading key. The five main clusters of access, expression, participation and building of movements, economy and embodiment help in orientating ourselves, but the principles can be combined and referred to each other. Consent read along with access to infrastructures is already providing an understanding of who is the subject and what is meaningful and relevant access. Further in the introduction some of the principles are named and linked to specific point made by the researcher, but the best way of using them is using them as spectacles or magnifying glass while reading the research, letting them resonate in the experience of the reader, the personal and the collective.

The research: India, Nepal, Sri Lanka
“How women’s rights, sexual rights and LGBTQ advocates, search for information, amplify their own messages and, respond to challenges and threats they are confronted with from inside and outside their communities?”

That is the overarching question of all EROTICS explorations from India, to Brazil, Lebanon, South Africa, Indonesia, Turkey, the US and now Nepal and Sri Lanka.

When looking at the use of internet within a larger community new questions emerge. Communities are not homogeneous, they can appear homogeneous only to distant, external eyes. The recognition that discrimination, exclusion, marginalization is not a one-color blanket is not a surprise but, in research, assumptions need to be verified or addressed when challenged.

So apart from confirming the existence of what Sara Hlupekile Longwe call Patriarchal Belief:

“The system of belief that serves to legitimise male domination and gender discrimination. It relies on patriarchal interpretations of biblical/religious texts, beliefs in male biological superiority (sexism) claiming that the unequal gender division of rights and duties is either natural (biological), or God-given, or too difficult to change because they are irretrievably embedded in culture”.

what do the reports confirm and/or establish?

Looking at the subjects that compose this vast community of women’s rights, sexual rights and LGBTQ activists, the first consideration is about intersection: how within these communities people define themselves trough a constellation of other identities. These fluid and shifting constellations of identity show how individuals are not a single point but three dimensional mosaics – , and this is what the feminist legal scholar, critical race theorist, and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw named as intersectionality. Intersectionality is an open call to give visibility and to question powers and privileges. Intersectionality is also a feminist political practice of recognizing or its obverse denouncing, and transforming. If we do not understand this, the risk is that we will have a new aesthetic of privileges that limit itself to the description and retire when transformation ask for reconsideration of personal position of privileges, or generate unease. It also means to give significance to what hide in plain sight.

To address intersectionality to the trinomial of sexuality, rights in_on the internet is essential. EROTICS uses an overall rights framework to unpack, organize or cluster these relations around the feminist principles of the internet (FPIs): access, expression, participation and building of movements, economy and embodiment. And we look at both, the relation of privileges and power between the society at large and the community of women’s rights, LGBTQ and sexual rights advocates and the relation of privileges and power within the members of this specific community.

If is generally true that we are all equals but some are more equal than others, is also true that within a community that faces discrimination there are also various degrees of inequality . If we do not accept the challenge to call out the existing privileges within communities too, we risk to misinterpret data and as consequence hold, halt the transformation we would like to see happening as a result of our politics. So, EROTICS research practice is to bring in plain sight all the visible, invisible and hidden intersections and dimensions from the cross-point of sexuality.

We knew already and the researches confirmed the themes of access, both to infrastructure (connectivity) and to information, sexual expression as creation of content and freedom of expression, privacy and consent, obscured by an exhausting preoccupation of indecency, morality and obscenity which translate in censorship and diffused self-censorship practices to resist the general social hostility, peer and public surveillance ,that is almost impossible to pin down.

Emerging but not completely spell out is the whole question of data.Bits of the selves transferred, stored , exposed, meshed up and morphed. Bits that need to be controlled and secured at continuous risks of being lost, robbed. From this arises the fear of many people of extortion and blackmail even when giving devices for repair, while relying heavily and almost exclusively on the cloud of private networks on social media and especially hookup and dating sites. The research also points out that people are at the mercy of unclear legislations with lack of accountability both from institutional, local and global services providers. All the research is about data, the joy, the trouble, the politics, the necessity of ensuring ownership, preventing harm, asserting and respecting freedom, ensuring privacy, safety.

Use and perception of internet: a story to be told many times
Looking at use is a perfect opening to understand power and technology and start appreciating the complexity: use, access, power, discourse are interlinked to each other. These in turn promote business, innovation and obviously technology and further innovation. It is a cycle, more like a sphere where dimensions are not linear anymore but 3D, in a continuum that spiral and spiral, again and again to the indefinite or the infinite.

There is no binary between internet and life – it is not onground, and then a vacuum, and at the end of it the virtual. There is a spectrum instead and along the spectrum there are users. The spectrum too has to be understood as multidimensional because of the intersectionality, the identities assumed or projected / mirrored on each other or against / vs. each other. For this reason going back to use is necessary and important – it is to situate the self/selves at a cross-point. And it is important also to call it a cross-point instead of a point of entry, because of the many relationships that each specific point is embedded in . Some of those cross-points look very material: cables, devices, data, some other are of a different fabric, the fabric of a society, a language, a gender, more genders.

Access to the internet is far more complex that connectivity, or better to say we should never reduce connectivity to a deployment of the last mile cable or antenna. Connectivity, to bring meaningful access calls immediately for an understanding of who has the power to create, control and develop the infrastructure. Connecting via broadband, or through a phone, on pre-paid or post-paid data packages, on public wi-fi tells us a lot about the power of the user, their embedded privileges or none. The research tell us women, LGBTQ and sexual rights advocates are on the internet. They do use it and with intention: an intention of justice but also an intention of love, curiosity, pleasure. They are ready to invest to ensure their access but they do not have equal power to ensure the that it is stable, qualitative, fast and safe.

Individuals online also provide personal data, identity data that give them the rights to own, register, pay online. Transactions of this nature make each and everyone very visible and confined by legal and social norms. Trans women and trans men has not the same ease or possibility to have their own personal access to internet cause their given names and genders do not respond to their lived experience and so they are confronted both by legal contractual norms and social stigma. They often have to rely on friends, relatives, or find ways around which implies precariousness and a form of dependency based on unequal powers. Women and girls face similar challenges because of their gender and the fear around their sexuality that entitle parents, husbands, family and relatives at large to question their rights to have they own devices. This puts them in a precarious situation of being constantly monitored by family, the most effective surveillance mode, and this in turn often leads to self-censorship. Regardless of this barriers and the relative privileges of gay men – LBT advocates and women from less privileged class/castes access the internet and use it intensively for personal and social purposes.

Lines of tension
To be online is part of what people do. It is considered essential, and women’s right activists see in the online space a public arena for their quest for justice. There is no doubt it is also a dangerous space with its specific risks but not intrinsically different from the known dangers of patriarchal society. The pace is certainly different, but is not something absolutely new similar to moving from a remote place to a busy hyper-connected one.

The research highlights and shows lines of tension. What emerges from the research is that expression around sexuality accelerates reactions. Talking, living, expressing one’s sexuality except the one of heterosexual men, is constantly under scrutiny, so that the curiosity, the pleasure has to continuously account for strategies and choices. Nothing is forbidden but everything, potentially, has a price, a label, a backslash. Lines of tension, polarizations, different perspectives that translate into holding back, silence, not antagonizing, and not using the online space to advocate for sexual expression as an integral part of the freedom of expression. All of it and the many nuances and explanation participants provide, come up in many places of the EROTICS research.

It is not an easy finding to elaborate but it is a necessary one. There is a separation, a gap, a rupture between self identified feminist and women’s rights advocates. From one side there is a difficulty of understanding the wholeness of the internet within the world, as intrinsic component of human interaction and on the other side there is the difficulty of recognizing the same legitimacy and wholeness to initiatives articulated online in contrast with the relevance reserved for those onground.

The rupture is also here multi-layered, once more and once again intersectional. There are women’s rights established professionals often recognized leaders of formal institutions. And there are individual activist, often referred to as online activists as if deprived of touchable body, or free radicals. The latter have been described by Jac Sm Kee as “new and emerging actors who are part of feminist organizing, but remain outside of the more familiar format of organizations. Some of them are content creators, some are social media activists, some are part of interest-driven collectives, some are feminist techies, and some are what I like to call “free radicals” – nodes that connect between formal organising and informal networks who act as key bridge builders and interlocutors of different actors and different spaces”. Some of them are what the internet recognize and celebrate as influencers, some are just emerging and becoming visible because of a trending hashtag.

There are also advocates belonging to dominant casts or class and advocates from lower class, minority groups. And gender conforming individuals versus gender non conforming individuals. Other factors that play a role include age, education, numbers of foreigner languages spoken, and so on.

Those privileges and concomitant power are all very real, material and hide in plain sight but the divergence named is about legitimacy and supremacy of onground vs online. What else are our bodies online than material data of the same selves effectively and destructively linkable to our shared/owned devices homes, footsteps, way of walking, faces?

So internet has debunked some privileges. Technology, with its own bias, expensive and precarious, still gives to the individual the opportunity to express oneself for pleasure or politic in visible-to-others-spaces. I refrain from labeling them as fully public since often the s/place where interaction happen are walled gardens owned by private corporation. What is important, is the transaction to access those s/places has already happened and is not tangled with legitimacy or permission to have a say, or receive a voice by the established professional in the women’s rights movement. Sexual expression online become the divider of the women’s / feminist movement. What truly happens is that diversity of voices, tones, pace and styles occupy the same space in a by-default two-ways horizontal communication and the antagonism onground / online tell us of many constraints but also of privileges, powers accountability, strategies and eventually transformation.

Sexual expression online become the divider of the women’s / feminist movement.

Both the established professional and the explorers are fluid characters embedded in the same patriarchal infrastructure and their particular privileges as well as their struggles are held in the power of the dominant patriarchal infrastructure. The kind of s/place where this “clashes of silences, lack of sorority, judgmental and preaching practices” happens is a space that is fed by accelerated conversations and dualistic antagonism. The internet of likes and follows has only one binary: the against/for of viral escalation that brings profits to its owner.

We must add that between womens’ right advocates exist big, unresolved differences on how to approach sexuality in a patriarchal world. It is not difficult to see how the existing divergence of these assumed politics, going from sex-positive to anti-pornography, are exacerbated and exploited by the specific technological architecture_design of social media. Backlashes are hosted, welcomed, promoted and exacerbated by those platform built on click-revenues business models that prefer simplification over complexity, virality and velocity over deepening and slower pace. Still, because of the internet, different narratives and conflating discourses are brought alive in the visible space and augmented, amplified and able to reach out potentially to any other self identified women’s rights, LGBT and sexual rights advocates.

Backlashes are hosted, welcomed, promoted and exacerbated by those platform built on click-revenues business models that prefer simplification over complexity, virality and velocity over deepening and slower pace.

The right to sexuality in_on the internet is a way of expressing the self and represent at the same time exploration, affirmation, resistance and transformation. We all need to understand it and stand by it. Support should not be denied and should be the political practice of any advocate. And this is when a feminist perspective of intersectionality, solidarity and transformation helps to orient ourselves in the noise generated by the overwhelming horizontally, participatory conversations enhanced and amplified on_in the internet.

For a dialogue the s/place of internet need to be integrated, enriched and not limited or concentrated on social media. Deep conversations require far more flexible s/places to accommodate the different pace of the participants to the conversation. They need respectful and ethically built s/place to host dissent and provide the necessary privacy avoiding the performance and per-formative modality privileged by social media. Internet is a terrain of freedom and this is unequivocally shown throughout the research. It is a s/place of learning in the privacy of personal searching, moving trough languages, resources and peer-to-peer conversation. Internet is a s/place of playfulness, of detachment from the given to move toward the chosen. This is established once more by all the concern around FB fake profiles and the question posed by respondent and researchers: which handle/profile is fake and which is true? And for whom the authentication (the famously known real name policy of FB) works? Is it a business trick to get better quotation for shareholders cause only real customers can bring real profit? And is not this also very vague and more and more irrelevant for a world that is detaching printed moneys from digital and financial transactions in favor of cryptocurrency from Bitcoins to Monero, from Yota to Ehterium?

Internet is a s/place of playfulness, of detachment from the given to move toward the chosen.

Living dangerous ordinary lives
One thing that is clear is that online avenues of freedom are constantly under threat. Sexuality on_in the internet counts on armies of vigilantes set to the task of ensuring family honor, religious tradition or nationalism . Patriarchy with its arsenal of control over female and women’s bodies, stigmatization and persecution of homosexuality, obstinacy to sanitize, standardize, simplified male / female in a binary representation is the norm, counter-discourse the brilliant, inspiring and searched exception.

That’s why it is important to understand gendered and sexualized experiences of lesbian women in Sri Lanka to see how the awareness of surveillance permeates their online participation and embodiment. What emerge, within the acknowledging of the many constraints, is refreshing as it shows fluidity, ability to change, transform and confront. There is acknowledgement that Facebook, the most popular and populated space online, is not amicus i.e. impartial, but is a s/place of surveillance. Of the surveillance of the system, of the family and of public, and an awareness of the self, of seeing and being seen, understanding reputation risks, and the prudent push-backs and steps to acquire autonomy and personal voices. It is all about hacking, from exploiting the privacy setting in any possible way to ensure unwanted family members are blocked from seeing , to create hierarchy of seeing and not seeing, to confine to specific posts / views to open it up totally. There is discontent, and tiredness of having this mind-sett of looking for the backlash, for what can happen, what can be said, who can be harmed. There is care but also unbearable pressure that push to ask for “delinking” of content production and recognitions online. There is the expectation of fun with a solidarity approach towards the sharing of self-taught tactics, tips and way to be more safe within the FB machine. All is embodiment including the prudence. It is a vindication of agency, it a way of reclaiming a different narrative instead of the defeat of self-censorship.

It is a vindication of agency, it a way of reclaiming a different narrative instead of the defeat of self-censorship.

All reports, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India tell us about the many lines of tension that formalized afterwards in threats, censorship and surveillance practices of different weight, from different actors. These exist everywhere, we knew it and the research was not looking for a sensational discovery but more for an understanding of its formation, dissemination, efficiency and effectiveness. It is true that norms to be cogent, to work need to be perceived as actual by community members themselves. But it is also true that when norms are part of formal regulation and legal framework, then to remove them there is a need of new tides to rise, relegating such laws and norms to archives and history.

Social networks remain the difficult sea that women’s and sexual rights activists have to navigate, with the tools they are able to get, even though harassment and outing are a common experience for majority of respondents. From awkwardness and discomfort, to harassment and violence there is a very tiny line. Articulating one’s own sexuality or taking a position around sexuality is entering a perilous sea where attack and revenge can be enacted any moment. And this is a gendered, sexualized and raced experience as shown by the 88% of Nepal respondents .

Decency, morality, obscenity or the alienation of your own persona for the greater good
Looking at the “mainstream” world from the perspective of sexuality is a game changer. Sexuality is attached to pleasure or sexual orientation , but even now carries discomfort and stigma, and is used with caution. I say mainstream as a place of power, not necessarily as a place of majority. In the world the majority struggle to have their voice heard. It is the privileged minority that scream and cover everyone else voices.

Sexuality, because of sex at its root is regarded as a subject ‘to be handled with care’ a slippery floor, an unstable sort of element that can explode and create trouble any time.

Sexuality as excess, as indecency, lack of taste, immorality, obscenity, perhaps even blasphemy. All very subjective terms, that can be understood and experienced with infinite nuances. But which also must be located historically and contextually within the geopolitics of power, control and subjugation. The hegemony of cultural white western European colonialism that was then reinvigorated as north American imperialism but also the hegemony exercised locally by dominant elites, ethnicity, religion, race or caste on its own population.

On the origins of obscenity and classification
For all these reasons it is important to reflect on the origins of obscenity and all the definitions, and classification that surround the word and how it acts upon sexuality. One of the finding of Guavas And Genital is that unclear, stereotypical and biased definition and classification are used by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data to classify cybercrimes. In their study, POV researchers noticed how cybercrimes were classified into a system of “motives”. . In 2014, for the first time in the NCRB’s history, a new category of suspect was introduced: the sexual freak. That very same year, the NCRB classified 163 individuals as sexual freaks”.

A new category of suspect was introduced: the sexual freak.

Similarly in Sri Lanka where obscenity, profanity and public performance laws such as Obscene Publications Act are used to control, censor and criminalizing “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and “acts of gross indecency”. Where classification on public web-sites could help destigmatise and offer verified information on sexuality and sexual orientation, but these remain generic not intended to help people, offering “limited perspectives of the public health framework, which has cemented layers of stigma and discrimination, especially through the close association of LGBTQ Sri Lankans with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

The spectrum of meanings highlights when some of these meanings and associations originate from a specific view of the world and the related bias. Until then, their domain remains incredibly vast and so we saw how decency, morality and their linkage to obscenity and public interest travel from colonial time, permute to present time and there, from onground realities through cables and wires move online in an indissoluble continuum. Decency, morality and obscenity are not just floating, they are attached to very specific representation of bodies, usually female. Sexual expression again and again is at the center, but what we discover is that it has become a simulacrum, that answer to very specific political project of silencing dissent.

Holding ground while building momentum for policy changes
Women’s rights, LGBTQ and sexual rights activist are on the internet because it belongs to them. Internet is one of the s/place of their personal lives as well as the site of their campaigns, activities. They are constantly searching, learning, connecting and networking while producing, sharing advocating. And all this in a continuum of personal and collective strategies, that are shared, re-shared, remixed, mashed up and shared again in a peer-to-peer transmission, sometimes a viral one. Even as onground or embodied strategies are necessary, vital and brilliant but they are not enough. The system perpetuates discriminatory law, originated in a colonial time and then re-appropriated by dominant elites, and these laws have their foundation in very vague and subjective terms such as obscenity, morality, prurience. This vagueness is also transferred into the new legislation around internet giving higher and unrestricted powers. Strategies focusing on amplification of voices and creation of alternative narrative are not enough. This is a moment that asks for engaging with the formal, the institution and use the evidence to create new policy which will reform bad law and inform new ones.

Policy work is delicate, sophisticated and long that’s why is important for users to move from being ‘customers’ of services to be netizens, citizens of the internet and address the functioning and interconnection of the overall infrastructure in its continuum of cable, servers, regulations and content. Policy is the necessary scale up of resistance, it is what will ensure that the right of any minorities be equal in front of the law and that the exception can be constitutive of the norm.

Policy is the necessary scale up of resistance.

End notes:

1. Braidotti, R. (2011). Nomadic subjects: embodiment and difference in contemporary feminist theory. Columbia University Press: West Sussex.

2. Kee, J. sm. (2017). Five layers of power on the internet. Paper presented at Stockholm Internet forum.

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