Chapter 2: Revisiting cyberfeminist theory as a tool for understanding young women’s experiences – Trevor Scott Milford

ABSTRACT

Milford suggests that we can move beyond responsibilization and better protect girls’ online privacy by troubling the dichotomies that too often structure debates about girls and technology. He revisits feminist engagement with technology issues and suggests that binary thinking — offline vs. online; risks vs. benefits; vulnerability vs. agency — has limited our theoretical capacity to challenge policies that constrain girls’ agency in the name of protecting them from harm. By maintaining the tension between poles in a fully integrated online/offline social environment that is bothliberating and constraining, we can better understand how girls experience online representations as instances of both agency and vulnerability. Milford concludes that, in this environment, agency can best be promoted by providing girls with control over the disclosure and sharing of their own images. And, since agency can only be fully experienced once we address the constraining impact of the stereotypical media representations that increasingly colonize online spaces, this approach will also help focus policy attention on ongoing, systemic patterns of discrimination and bias.

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