Web 2.0 connects me to Global women, but also to men who are now empowering me!
Two things about Web 2.0 that most excites me are unlimited information and indefinite space for sharing and discussion information! Availability of all kinds of information is just magical. It is like every time I search for something, it is always there. One of my professors talked to me and asked, “Saren, have you ever wondered what we did previously in order to get information we want, before we have Google.” I gave her a huge smile. We both smiled. The professor was a victim of gang-rape at a very young age, in Australia. She just loves the fact that she could constantly tell her story to other women and other victims of gender-based violence through her blogs and different kinds of social online networks, to be strong and courageous to fight this patriarchy together with her.
Besides connecting and creating a huge network between women all over the world and giving them space to communicate, discuss, debate and figure out ideas and strategies to empower themselves, Web 2.0 also helps pulling men into helping empower women as well. One of my friends joins a facebook page where members there discuss the root of rape. A male member in that page states that it is because of the short clothes that provoked men. My friend got offended but she tried to stay calm and continue to discuss about it in a respectful way. The man eventually changed his tone, became more respectful and started to agree with my friends that the root is not that example. The guy is a very out-spoken person, who knows how many other men he might have mad to discuss about the issue in a more insightful way that might lead to better awareness about women issues? And finally they might join us in this women empowerment journey.
Connecting with men through web 2.0 applications is very essential. Because all kinds of information is disseminated everywhere, men nowadays are much more aware than the past about the advantage they are entitled to just because they are men and disadvantages women are facing just because they are women. This is very important because in order to empower ourselves, we women need men to cooperate with us. Men need to know and acknowledge that our societal structure has brutally oppressed women. I totally agree with Kavita Ramdas that in order to cook rice, there must be pressures from both bottom and the top on the pot. Likewise, we need men who are now top leaders to be our allies. When men get to hear different stories through voices of women online; discussion and debate among them will be generated and eventually they will understand the ugly reality about women being ‘second’, oppress-able, beatable, rape-able etc. Hopefully more and more men will join us fighting this patriarchic system.
For me, I would say just facebook alone already have empowered me in a great deal. Since I am now still a student with daily overloaded assignment, I can hardly get time to talk about all sorts of issues I care about with friends around, especially about women issues of course. It is the online life that gives me the space to do that. I add men to be my friends, I confirm men who send me friend request regardless of their age or nationality. I do that because I want to have a free discussion space about women issues with them. Every time I share news or articles related to women issues, I get to make them think and start to care about the issue as well. Sharing news, articles pictures related to women issues online get more attentions from men also because your male friends do not face you, but merely see your written words. Because of social construction, all my male friends expect me to only care and talk about my feelings, beauty salon or family issues, which they consider as trivial. As the result, often they do not give me space to talk about social or political issues; thus they never hear me. But online, the written words do not show my face, my “constructed” gender that would devalue me anymore. The men read, they hear it and they respond. This is how and why my voices are heard. Web 2.0 has given this magic space for me where my words are not given a ‘constructed’ gender.