An excerpt from a blog post by Claire Gagnon, a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. To read the full post, go to A Feminist Internet
Throughout history, new technological developments have left specific individuals behind, including women and other traditionally marginalized groups.
Published in August 2016, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) released the “Feminist Principles of the Internet.” The goal of these principles was to encourage Internet rights to be human rights. In the preamble, the APC wrote:
A feminist Internet works towards empowering more women and queer persons – in all our diversities – to fully enjoy our rights, engage in pleasure and play, and dismantle patriarchy. This integrates our different realities, contexts, and specificities – including age, disabilities, sexualities, gender identities and expressions, socioeconomic locations, political and religious beliefs, ethnic origins, and racial markers. (APC, 2016)
The principles are presented in five sections: Access, Movement and Public Participation, Economy, Expression, and Agency. As a whole, the document is aimed to improve social justice for women and traditionally marginalized groups on the Internet.
The Access section focuses on universal, accessible, unrestricted, and affordable Internet access “relevant to women and queer persons, particularly information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, pleasure, safe abortion, access to justice, and LGBTIQ issues.” (APC, 2016, para. 3). In the United States, as technology is advancing, false information plagues the Internet. It has become increasingly more difficult for women and traditionally marginalized groups of individuals to find adequate information on sexual and physical healthcare – information that can be critical to their livelihoods.
The Movements and Public Participation section discusses the need for the Internet to give all traditionally marginalized groups, especially women, the space to speak their minds. Without judgment or hate, the Internet should be a safe space for all to engage in resistance, movement building, and decision-making in Internet governance (APC, 2016). After the 2016 election, a large feminist movement (#MeToo) spread internationally – in-person and online.
The Economy section rejects capitalism and its chokehold surrounding politics and technology. There should not be a divide in who has access to technology. As the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States – forcing everyone to remain at home for months – technology became the bane of the existence of those who could not afford a computer, Internet access, or electricity.
The Expression section calls for the freedom to let everyone have equal rights to express themselves over the Internet. This can take multiple forms, including political and religious interests.
Finally, the Agency section focuses on the hope to design an Internet that is safe, private, and prevents marginalized individuals and their children from harm. With the Internet being key to education, students need to keep safe online while completing homework. The Agency section is about an Internet that empowers and protects women and traditionally marginalized individuals, not one that is used to surveil, control, or harm those at greatest risk.
What can a feminist Internet do for education? By adhering to the APC statement, schools and educators can create a safer environment for students, especially females and students from traditionally marginalized groups.
Association for Progressive Communication. (2016). Feminist Principles of the Internet –
Version 2.0. Association for Progressive Communication (APC), Feminist Principles of
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Claire Gagnon (she/her) is a history and education major at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Graduating in December 2022, Claire is planning on teaching history and social studies in Massachusetts. She focuses her research on historical impacts on marginalized groups, as well as British involvement and child education during and after World War II.
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