In October 2017, the event "Making a feminist internet: Movement building in the digital age" organized by the Association of Progressive Communications (APC) with the collaboration of Mamacash, CREA, FRIDA, Urgent Action Fund, Astraea and AWID, gathered more than 80 people in Malaysia to discuss what does it mean to build movements around feminist principles, women’s rights, sexuality and related issues in the digital age.
They all had something to voice about current society’s flawed system gathered together and expressed their perspectives in their parts of the world, their everyday encounters and their constant battle with those who try to silence them and their beliefs.
A simple question was proposed to them: If there was an amplification tool that one could either embody, carry or hold every day, what is the one main function that she would like to have on this tool?
Listen to the voices of 35 women from different parts of the world. The overlapping responses were congregated and presented as one answer, resulting in a total of 29 answers.
What would be your choice of function?
hover and click to explore the responses
I can detect any nuances from the conversation and take a stance based on these small differences.
When I'm arguing with others, I can have a quick fact-check with contextual information and/or statistics that strengthen my arguments to persuade others better.
A function that helps me organise thoughts, information and contexts, untangle them and make them more logical before I express myself.
Regardless of who I talk to, I can present the information in his/her vocabulary. For example, if I'm explaining a scientific fact to an artist, I can explain my point artistically for him/her to understand where I am coming from.
Wi-Fi should be free and accessible for everyone.
A function that communicates different agendas and communication building that helps to create a space for methodological and collaborative input and processes.
A function that helps people connect with the differences of various groups of people: persons with disabilities, sex workers, queers, etc.
Instant call for action when activists' support is needed.
The device can recognise similar events in the conversation and assist me in repeating the same things said.
I am free to have sex with anyone, anywhere, at any time, with as many people as I want and there would be no shame or stigma against this freedom.
I can reset the mindset of another person.
A function that could help me improve my multitasking skills to be more efficient with tasks and communication.
Instantly translate the presented spoken/written language into any dialects of the other person.
With any information presented to me in any form, I can generate connections, ideas and/or infographics to help better understand the concept.
I can see through the meaning of people's language and detect the truthfulness of it.
I can connect with other feminists; like a necklace, it helps pull together different beads and connect all our differences together.
I can reduce the speaker's volume when I see that he/she comes from a privileged background or repeats too much of what he/she's presenting.
I can speak the contextual language the other person is speaking.
I can choose to erase memories that are useless or would recall negative experiences.
I can speak in the language the other person is speaking in terms of contextual language.
Security and support are ensured to whatever I express.
I can make videos that help other people to have access and be connected with the knowledge.
It is a function that, like a foot, connects me to the ground with others.
I can zip-up other people's mouths or take away their voice when I do not want to listen to their nonsense.
The tools helps people to bypass the need for physical language and allows those who are conversing to extract the meanings in their own types of "language".
I can explain very difficult and/or controversial things with humour to not only delve into the situation with more openness and understanding, but also with empathy.
A function that could help generate useful questions and continue the conversation to gain more knowledge and information of the topic discussed.
I can read other people's minds and understand whether what I'm saying to him/her is understandable or getting through.
I can present my thoughts in videos to explain information and make it more accessible for the public.
A moment of empowerment in two minutes
Amy, amongst many of the people I’ve met, is considered a very energetic feminist. Originally from Kaohsiung (Southern Taiwan), Amy, with only a college degree, feared that she couldn’t take up a position in Taipei, as most people around her either have higher degrees or they’ve studied abroad. Amy at the time also didn’t have much experience working in the LGBTIQ field other than the fact that she’s also queer.
But what the current feminist society has shown us is that everyone’s experiences are valuable: your life experiences, status, your social group and your sexuality knowledge, everything is interconnected. Amy also discovered that due to her different background, she often sees perspectives that her peers missed.
There is a saying in Taiwan: it’s easy to raise a child of a PhD, but hard to raise a child of a businessman. It means that if you want to study and have the resources, the path can be very easy, but if you have to grow strength from zero, it’s a difficult path.
Understanding that she has lots to offer,
Amy was able to handle her job with more confidence.
According to the Taiwanese legal policy, one cannot discriminate against a person due to his/her sexual orientation in school; yet there are still teachers who, under the pretence of “care”, would inform a child's parents or other teachers about his/her sexual orientation, in order to put pressure on the child.
In my story, a 14-year-old boy, anxious and worried, came to us at the AIDS call centre – a centre that provides support for homosexuals – because his teacher had informed his parents about his sexual orientation.
We taught him what kinds of legal steps he could take to fight against the discrimination he faces in school. He can collect evidence of the discrimination, get legal documents in place, and present them to his teachers so that they cannot discriminate against anyone else on the basis of their sexuality. We also suggested that he should approach other, LGBTIQ-friendly teachers to ask for more support.
The boy grew from a helpless teenager to a person who can now guide another person who may be going through similar experiences. He understands the proper steps and precautions. He warns those similar to him about certain teachers who may have prejudices against homosexuals. From an anxious boy, he became one of our volunteers.
I feel empowered among LGBT communities. In 2016, the LGBT communities were under a lot of pressure from the radical religious fundamentalists. During that time, the Syariah [Sharia] Police had my name on their list of targets. I had to avoid anything that has to do with the state administration until one day I was evacuated from Aceh.
At that time, I felt, "Wow! this is the biggest pressure I've ever had in my life!” Because I managed to survive the incident, I want to dedicate my life as an activist to the LGBT communities. Though it may sound sad, even ironic, I took pride from that experience.
Another empowering moment was when I told my mother that I am a trans man. She is a conservative Muslim, hence she rejected the notion. I think she did it because I am her only child and she had hopes that I could continue the family legacy. The moment she accepted me as a trans man was when I felt truly empowered.
An experience that gave me a sense of empowerment, or great satisfaction, was taking part in a process of collective care, a process of self-defence with political, physical and digital aspects, and guided above all by intuition. It was during a feminist self-defence workshop organised by the Laboratorio de Interconectividades and Comando Colibrí. The idea was to work with our bodies as our first technology, to try to “hack” into the memories we carry with us, as a way to free our bodies from everything that keeps us blocked, that causes deep pain. To work on those memories to create ever stronger bodies, because we have greater confidence, and we express our needs, and at the same time, we learned how to move through the spaces we inhabit, both physical and digital, and feel that we are defending a free territory, whether on the internet or any of the other defences we work with in our feminist movements.
What is a symbol that for you represents both vulnerability and resistance?
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