JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Questions of feminine digital identity

August 21st, 2004 · No Comments

The guest bloggers at feministe this week posted three powerful pieces in a row: one on survivors of sexual violence No Pity. No Shame. No Silence., another on modesty The Sweet Smell of Flowers and a third one titled Sex and Desire: Are Women Becoming More Open?. These three describe aspects of feminine sexuality: what a woman chooses to do with her body, and what is done to a woman’s body against her choice.

After reading at feministe, I read danah boyd’s proposal on Representations of Digital Identity which will be presented at the Computer Supported Cooperative Work 2004 conference.

Some of the questions proposed include:

What are the differences between digitally constructed presentations of self and the projection of self through the body? What does the digital form say about how the body is used to project identity?


In what ways can/should/do users have control over their digital representation of self? How does this differ from the control that people have over their bodies?

With the feministe pieces still in my mind, I wondered how these aspects of femininity affect digital identity. How does a modest woman express herself on-line? Author Rachel Ann wrote

I dress modestly because I want my scent, the scent of my soul to prevail; what I think of as the real me. Not my body, my weight, the color or length of my hair. Not whether my face is smoothed or wrinkled; or marred by some disease or disaster.

I want people to see my thoughts, my feelings, my value. I am modest not in an effort to hide, but to reveal.

Does this kind of connection happen easier in an Internet relationship? How can one bring back the scent of flowers to an on-line world?

Women who have been assaulted often wrestle with issues of body image. Does a survivor of sexual violence communicate this in her on-line persona? Just as there may be characteristics that abused women exhibit due to their experience, are there indicators on-line of what a woman has suffered? How does the way a woman feels about her body and her sexuality become communicated through her digital identity?

Questions I wish I had more time to explore….

Tags: women