Lynne d Johnson



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07.10.07 06:45 PM

Privacy, Exposure, Risk: Can you maintain safer spaces online?

I'll be in Chicago later this month to moderate the panel, "Privacy, Exposure, Risk: Can you maintain safer spaces online?" with feminists erotica writer Susie Bright, Ann Crady, CEO of parenting site Maya's Mom, and Tara Hunt, who recently wrote "The insidious danger of danger.

The topic:

When there are other people involved, blogging can be just like sex. You can never guarantee it’s 100% safe, but you can make it safer. And oh, by the way, “safe” can be in the eye of the beholder. Discuss where you draw the line to protect yourself, those close to you and your entire online community both around your individual blog, or in larger more structured online communities, from family friendly sites to sex sites.

This discussion takes me back to "Imagining a Gender Neutral Black Male/Female Relationship":

Not too long ago, many lauded the great equalizing affects of the Internet. In these praises proponents pointed to the anonymous nature of the virtual identity, in which a non-ethnic specific or non-gender specific cybername enables an Internet user to mask his or her color, and therefore ethnicity, or gender. And while on many levels, cyberspace does democratize communication it truly depends on the context. Because of this, cyberspace enables a new paradigm for exploring the social construct of black male/female relationships. Instead of destructive and non-communicative relationships, cyberspace enables black men and women to forge relationships via new pathways.

While a traditional communications model sender, message, and receiver is employed by the technologies that enable communications in cyberspace, because the virtual self often has no face and no audible voice, most forms of Internet communication lends itself to gender neutralization. From this standpoint, it could be argued that the communications taking place are not real, in that communicators are not displaying their true identities, and that often makes an adequate analysis murky. Yet in my experiences, I have seen many scenarios play out, from that of a gender-neutral cyberspace, to a masculinized one, wherein heterosexual males tend to penetrate the screen, to that of a sexualized cyberspace. And still, I maintain the position that cyberspace offers a safer space wherein black males and females can communicate and build stronger relationships and understandings of one another, thereby bringing about true community building.>>>

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