From so called “Slut Walks” to blogs dedicated to women’s rights, the realm of feminist activism is definitely changing. Digital activism has become increasingly popular for many different campaigns and human rights groups, but can sometimes be given a negative connotation. Slacktivism is an increasing problem, because we all know we have “liked” a campaign on Facebook, but never actually participated or done anything to further the cause. However, digital activism in terms of feminism has shown some promising changes.
One grad student, Maggie Arden, shows her concern that the feminist movement needs more cohesion and centered tactics. Women’s rights will not improve unless its’ supporters work as a whole, and not individually. Social media and the internet could aid in bringing more cohesion to the movement. “My research in graduate school has been focused on how online advocacy and the translation from there to offline action and change has worked for different movements and revolutions, and how can the feminist movement take the best of what’s been done and apply it.”
As opposed to traditional protests or demonstrations like “Slut Walks”, online activism can bring together a large group of people from all over the world into a cohesive fight for one cause. But how effective can it be?
Well, women in Kenya have shown its potential. At a recent lecture by Ousseina Alidou at Barnard University, young women engaged in a conversation regarding Muslim Women, Activism, and the New Media in Kenya. Many of us are familiar with the way America and Western countries use social media in different ways to promote education about particular topics and change, but not everyone is familiar with the way other parts of the world are adapting these technologies as well. In Kenya and other Muslim societies, women are constrained to a stereotype of an “oppressed Muslim woman,” reduced to only her religion and her sex. But with social media, women are able to redefine their identities and showcase their true personalities. With blogs such as theislamawareness.blospot.com and the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE), they vocalize their own stance on their current status within their religious communities.
Once a very non-vocal group, Muslim women are able to work together to form an active movement of solidarity online, which then can be transferred to active events and conferences offline. Social media and blogging has proven very successful in exposing their problems with the stereotypes that exist around them and furthermore, reclaim their rights as women. Even more promising is the fact that through these online communities, women’s rights groups become more diverse, even showcasing discourse between women of opposing Muslim communities.
Recent discussions on Tumblr and Twitter have focused on “the role of the American mosque and why women and others who might feel marginalized by the male”. Slowly, the Internet is becoming a place where issues that are not normally broadcasted or spoken about can be freely addressed.
With time and the help of social media technologies, we may be able to break down socially constricting barriers, one by one. In today’s age of ever changing technology, “Media becomes the ultimate outlet for rights discourse” (Carly Crane).