Expression

Background

The Expression cluster of principles includes Expression, Pornography and Amplify.

We defend the right to sexual expression as a freedom of expression issue of no less importance than political or religious expression. We strongly object to the efforts of state and non-state actors to control, surveil, regulate and restrict feminist and queer expression on the internet through technology, legislation or violence. We recognise this as part of the larger political project of moral policing, censorship, and hierarchisation of citizenship and rights.

We recognise that the issue of pornography online has to do with agency, consent, power and labour. We reject simple causal linkages made between consumption of pornographic content and violence against women. We also reject the use of the umbrella term “harmful content” to label expression on female and transgender sexuality. We support reclaiming and creating alternative erotic content that resists the mainstream patriarchal gaze and locates women and queer persons’ desires at the centre.

We claim the power of the internet to amplify women’s narratives and lived realities. There is a need to resist the state, the religious right and other extremist forces who monopolise discourses of morality, while silencing feminist voices and persecuting women’s human rights defenders.

Caroline Tagny interviewed Rohini Lakshané, who used to work with EROTICS India, and Sheena Magenya, from the Coalition of African Lesbians during the Global meeting on gender, sexuality and the internet in April 2014 to ask them how they understand pornography from their respective contexts, and how do they engage their activism with the intersection between sexual rights and internet rights.

This exploratory article stems from the desire to continue debating, as well as co-creating, the “feminist internet”. I first heard of the feminist internet in 2014 in Southeast Asia at a meeting of activists from all over the world. I then participated in subsequent discussions in July 2015 in Malaysia alongside Latin American, Indian, African, European and Arab women.