I love social media because it gives me the opportunity to participate in discussions with women I don’t meet in everyday life. YouTube introduced me to games criticism through Anita Sarkeesian’s fantastic videos. Blogging flared up my feminism through the Vagenda Magazine, and Twitter found me @digitalwomenuk.
The online world, particularly when it comes to games and tech, is a male dominated one and it can be dangerous to enter the arena. That’s what Anita Sarkeesian found out when she started publishing her videos analysing the portrayal of women in video games; misogynists sent hate mail, attempted to hack into her Twitter and Google accounts, and posted doctored pictures of her online. Her experience proves that there is much to be done to make the web safe for women. One way of starting that process is adding more female voices to the discussion.
That’s what first prompted me to start my site. Techpoet.org is a blog where I publish my thoughts about digital media, including critiques, reviews and industry news. But I didn’t just want to talk about technology. I wanted to be able to practise it too, so I learnt the first steps of website design: how to use a host, manage a CMS, and design with HTML. I think it’s important that women get practical and learn the skills to raise our profile in a technology-saturated climate.
What started out as a small, personal experiment is slowly evolving as I understand more about the power of the technology I am using. At the moment I’m learning SEO techniques and how to incorporate another of my hobbies – illustration – to add to the design of my site. I’m also finding out how important social media – particularly Twitter – is to finding an audience. A website on its own has a very low chance of being discovered, but through Twitter I am finding many like-minded women who further inspire my work.
Looking at Sarkeesian’s experience, the web can seem like a horrible place. By using online platforms to get our voices heard, we can slowly start to change the perception of the technology industry as one dominated by men and misogynists. Each female voice added to the discussion represents a step forward in the mission to make the web safer, and more productive, for digital women.
About the author
Emily Wells is studying for an MA in Digital Publishing at Oxford Brookes University and is working towards a career in the publishing industry. She writes about games and digital fiction at her website www.techpoet.org. You can also find her on Twitter: @techpoet_org