Y-Pulse National Mashup 2008: Are girls the new geeks?

Sitting in the panel, “Are girls the new geeks?” with Nancy Gruver from New Moon Girl Media, Allison Keiley from Girls, Inc., Holly Rotman from eCRUSH/eSPIN and Courtney Macavinta, Founder and CEO, Respect Rx.
They start with the knowledge drop: 55% of web content is created by women. Other things overheard, “Girls need to know that their voice is being heard and respected.” “Even celebrated.”


The focus is on girls as content produces and the use of internet and new media as a moment of empowerment and a place to have your voice heard. I completely and totally agree with this sentiment. Feministing has given me the tools to spread my message, opinions, ideas and thoughts to a huge and diverse audience.
But the questions of creating a safe space inevitably comes up. How do you create a safe space for young women content producers? All the panelists agree that it is very important to create safe spaces. But is this possible?
I asked the panelists this question and they had varying ideas and suggestions and the creator of New Moon emphasized that for youth it is imperative they create safe spaces.
Unfortunately, if I have learned anything about feminist blogging, the idea of a safe space kind of flies out the window. I don’t really do this to feel safe, I do it because there is a lack of women’s voices in media and a lack of feminist analysis. And while I see the positive things blogging has done for me and other women, it has been a very difficult road due to anti-woman, anti-feminist hate that is thrown all over the internet. We are attacked on a daily basis, which of course shows us why we need to do what we do. But that doesn’t mean it is not hard.
So I ask you, how do we create spaces where women’s voices will truly feel respected and part of the conversation? Feministing has done this in many ways, but it has taken a lot of work, discussion and monitoring.
Oh and thanks for the Feministing shout out panelists!

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4 Comments

  1. ElleDee
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    The only times I’ve seen internet safe spaces is with a heavy amount of moderation. Sure, it’s censorship, but women are not afforded the most basic treatment as human beings in the real world and it’s doubly worse in the wild west of the internet. Picking on women is a pastime for some. But while it’s much easier to spout misogynistic hate online, it’s also easier to silence those people – if that’s your goal. People can be blocked and their comments deleted and it’s like they were never there at all.
    Of course it’s not an ideal way of doing things. It would be nice if spaces could be open to everyone to enjoy and participate in, but there’s no getting around the fact trolls are out there and will rip through your safe space the first chance they get and have a good time doing it.

  2. wibbildy
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Girls are not the new geeks, because geek-hood knows no gender, race, or any other societal subdivision. A geek is a geek because they are willing to sacrifice sociality for a certain skill or talent. Geek girls have been around for quite some time.
    A safe-place on the internet? Impossible without some degree of privacy or heavy moderation. A private forum, requiring members to either pay a fee or submit credentials to prove themselves as undiscriminating folk would keep young ladies from being attacked. At the same time, a private forum wouldn’t allow for any young voices to be heard by anyone but like-minded yes-ladies, constantly giving praise and leaving those voices “even celebrated.”
    I feel that unmoderated free access sites become too swamped with hostile jerks. At the same time, too much moderation could, and has on this site, resulted in the silencing of well presented opposition views. We’d be doing young people a disservice to let them share their ideas and not give them the opportunity to defend their views. Debate doesn’t always means hostility.
    A moderated site is the safest place, but that moderation needs to be moderate.

  3. Posted July 21, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this great post, Samhita, and for all the thoughtful comments everyone…
    It is definitely tricky to navigate the line of freedom vs. ground rules/moderation online. As an online editor at New Moon, I enjoy hearing your opinions and will definitely incorporate them into my thoughts and planning. I love the internet’s open, public qualities, but I also think that using it in various ways with member-only communities as well can enable positive interactions and social change.

  4. Posted July 21, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this great post, Samhita, and for all the thoughtful comments everyone…
    It is definitely tricky to navigate the line of freedom vs. ground rules/moderation online. As an online editor at New Moon, I enjoy hearing your opinions and will definitely incorporate them into my thoughts and planning. I love the internet’s open, public qualities, but I also think that using it in various ways with member-only communities as well can enable positive interactions and social change. A balancing act for sure!

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