Thursday, February 21, 2008



Sullivan analyzes her subsequent objectification through a mistaken cyber identity producing strange results.  I was interested in how the men didn’t “get it” after she inserted links that would lead the gazer through her intended assignment as an exercise in  hypertext and techno-web-creation.  Why don’t they get it?  Sullivan wasn’t so much interested in this universality as other aspects of her work, such as the cybersexism occurring within the male dominant network and the inherent female objectification such power structures will exert.

I couldn’t help thinking about how cultural the implications of Sullivan’s work are, especially when confronted with the detail of the 40 year old woman who faced pressure to cut her hair because she was too “old” to have long hair.  The societal notion of how women should appear and at what age is the double standard made famous by the Ally Sheedy character in, The Breakfast Club, “if you haven’t you’re a prude, if you have you’re a slut.”  The utmost impossible standard for women to achieve – and be advised ladies, if you are indeed one of those blessed hotties, your crown is destined to usurped by the culturally unkind Father Time, who only doles out moments in the sun to women, however men are free to be “distinguished” looking well into their 50’s.  Sullivan has definitely perked my interest in her work on the dominant male cyber gaze, its ensuing power structure, and the cultural peculiarities bred by the medium that is the world wide web.


“Revolutions provide opportunities for the marginalized to participate in the rearrangement of the social, political, and economic hierarchies that affect their lives, and a media revolution is no exception.” (Romano 252).  Romano refers to marginalized with access to the media revolution, of course.  The revolutionary opportunities are powerful and subject to a global gaze, however this particular type of activity Romano refers to is absolutely contingent upon a working computer literacy, and only those in the know and with all the expendable time to create these websites will have a global audience.  Romano has factored in the actual physical exertion and difficulty faced by some women to gain access, and that leads naturally to the spending of time as a commodity – spending time to gain the access and spending time to fudge with the programming.  Personally, I have spent hours attempting to come to a certain end in the act of techno creation – Once I even heard, the notorious super-bad agent of technology, Avery LaBad, to whom all technologies lie prostate at his feet, remark that he had spent hours getting his Comic Life slide show just right.  If the legendary Avery LaBad spent hours, I would spend months, maybe even up to a year to accomplish such a slide show.      

And I question to what group do these represented feminist activists belong?    Romano writes to a specific audience of digital pioneer women, who is inclusive of the term “pioneer?”  Do they have representative Holly Hobby avatars complete with bonnets and aprons?  Where did they get those old fashioned tights?


“As women visually construct themselves online, what issues of representation should they consider and how do they understand other’s online construction of them?” (Hawisher/Sullivan 269).  The study examined professional English Department women’s web pages and recognized a rigidness to their visual representations which is the expected manner of representin’ oneself in academe.  While reading about visual rhetoric among different types of institutional sites, personal homepages, Victoria’s Secret catalog page, and etc, I was thinking about the dating websites.  In a discussion with a friend, who had actually gone beyond the faceless chatting on the dating sites and met some people, he described his experience as every meeting the person had misrepresented themselves in a most negligent manner.  I laughed as he told me that each person had aged 10 years and gained 100 pounds, within the 2 week time frame between “meeting” on the site and physically meeting in person.  Although dating sites are not included in the Hawisher/Sullivan study, they are the most interesting of visual rhetoric because there is more at stake than the other types of sites studied.  After all, an individual has a chance to find, “the one.” 

1 comment:

kristin said...

I guess for me what's most interesting about these readings is the acknowledgement that online spaces carry the same mess of -isms that offline spaces do. This also gets me thinking about the available means of representation...the available designs if you will. In what ways do we feel comfortable asserting our identities online and why? If we ask our students to do this, why? And what available means do they discover? What subject positions are available for whom is always an important consideration for me.