The Wednesday Weigh-In: Right to surf edition

onlineLast year, Finland became the first country in the world to make internet access a basic right for its citizens.

Since then, the country had made good on its promise to keep Internet access affordable to all Finns, with more than 85 percent of Finns currently able to access to the Internet. This makes Finland rank among the world’s Top 10 most wired nations.

And this summer, a report by a United Nations special rapporteur declared that internet access is a basic human right. According to the report, disconnecting people from the Internet – which happened across the Middle East and North Africa during the protests this spring – constitutes a human rights violation and is thus against international law.

I think about this a lot because, well, I write on the internet, and I also work a lot with women from all over the world. Sometimes their rural location or lack of connectivity can present a big obstacle to our feminist movement-building.

With this in mind, today’s Wednesday Weigh-In is:

What role does staying connected play in your feminism? What could better internet access mean for your political activity and viewpoints?

Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

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11 Comments

  1. Posted August 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Without the Internet, I probably never would’ve made it to feminism.

    I was raised in a conservative family and was discouraged from asking questions that were outside of my place. Access to the Internet introduced me to feminism in the first substantive way, ever. At first it started with a seedling, “Why can’t I be a pastor if I want to be?” but it grew ever further.

    The Internet has helped formed me into the woman I am today. Without it, I never would have had exposure to the multitude of ideas that exist outside of me. I would be a very small and boring person, indeed.

  2. Posted August 10, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Like you, I seem to be almost entirely internet based in my writing. While the work I do as a Quaker is much more face to face, I’m not sure how I’d stay connected with feminism and feminists if I didn’t have the internet.

    I’m always a fan of expanded access for all. I think there are many people who are feminist but not aware of the term. And I am also a big believer that the more voices present, the more we’re able to attend to our blind spots, banish privilege, and find solutions that cut across cultural lines.

  3. Posted August 10, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    From a feminist standpoint, the internet is such a positive thing because it offers access to forums where your gender, even your name can be totally hidden and you can be appreciated – or not – purely on your own opinions. I had an experience myself where someone I’ve politically sparred with (amicably) in an internet forum for a few years found out I’m a woman and he said (and I quote), “Oh my God, you’re so smart I just assumed you were a guy” (!!). An eye-opener for him, certainly. But it also sadly speaks volumes about how women still are perceived in western society.

  4. Posted August 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Well, obviously the internet increases your ability to learn of news stories and trends on a global level very rapidly, including ones that pertain to women and feminism. It allows for communication with people from different schools of thought on feminism, levels of experience with it, background, etc.

    It also gives me a platform to post my own artwork and blog thoughts on things, which frequently can pertain to feminism. This has helped me to connect with others who have similar views, interests, and social goals, who aren’t local to me and who I might not have communicated with otherwise.

    • Posted August 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      I would like to add to this that there was a zine culture that facilitated this prior to the internet becoming commonly used, but the internet does it more widely, and beyond the subculture of people inclined to seek out zines in the first place.

  5. Posted August 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    While I recognize that certain people in my life, teachers I’ve had, and books that I’ve read have contributed to my passion and interest in feminism, it’s websites like Feministing, blog users and feminists across the country and across the globe and the vast array and spread of ideas and news articles that also contribute largely to new knowledge and paths for me to learn and grow from. Not to mention it’s easy for me to write about my ideas on feminism, but sharing and blog with others around the world and for those who are interested is facilitated so much more by the use of blog sites and the internet.

  6. Posted August 10, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    For me, the internet is the way I have been exposed to many feminist ideas and people that I would never have come across otherwise in my “real life.” I live in a community that is more conservative, and the internet lets me reach beyond that viewpoint to connect with others who share my interests, belief, and values. I have enjoyed being part of that broader community, and it is because of being online that I’ve been able to do that.

  7. Posted August 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Pretty much all of my overtly feminist acts occur online, but even aside from the social networking and blogs … this is about access. Without the internet there’s a number of texts and informational sources that I could not have. I would have to go to a good University library which for me is 20 miles away. That’s actually not too bad. Because I have a car. But, I imagine for someone who relies on public transportation or lives 50 or more miles away this could become problematic rather quickly. With the internet, I have access to most of the materials I want or need almost instantaneously and from where-ever.

  8. Posted August 10, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Though I came to feminism off-line, it wasn’t until I started following things online that I learned about intersectionality and privilege.

    This despite going to a very liberal college: it was difficult to process privilege in contexts where it seemed like people either took certain tenets for granted which I didn’t understand or practically forced it down my throat during every opportunity.

    Online was different. Though discussion was often very heated, I knew that I had the option to listen or to walk away… I didn’t feel forced by community standards or anything, so I just stuck around and thought about it.

    Online access isn’t just about bringing people together: it’s also about giving people choice about what they will and won’t accept.

  9. Posted August 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    The internet is everything to me. I would have come in contact with feminism, but it was only because I have occult interests and I found it through Neopaganism via Starhawk (Miriam Simos). However, I wouldn’t have known about Third-Wave feminism and how fantastic it is :P

  10. Posted August 11, 2011 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    Strange thing is, I got into gay rights first-the way my classmates threw around the phrases ‘that’s so gay’ and ‘you/he/she are/is a faggot’ didn’t sit right with me. But I didn’t really follow those thoughts any further, until I somehow found myself on a gay rights website. Which exposed me to a deeper kind of hate (eg gay bullying statistics) and the consequences of that hate (eg the September suicides).

    So I walked around being outraged about that for a while. But on this site this ‘feminism’ thing kept coming up, and I considered following it up.

    Later I found myself with a book in my hands called ‘Living Dolls’ by Natasha Walter, shiny and new and pink and full off scathing arguments and relentless attacks on the way British society views women and the ridiculous pseudo-science that is biological determinism. And I know that I’m not British, but it BLEW MY MIND.

    I go to a school where girls who play sports are as valued as girls who dance, where I can honestly say girls aren’t judged by their sexual status and where we are all given an excellent sex education. I don’t think I’d have run into enough examples of blatant sexism in my hometown to make me question the way women are treated for years and years.

    If it wasn’t for the internet, I think I’d still eventually become a feminist. I just wouldn’t be one NOW.

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