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Jana Young’s LOA Packet

by on May 4, 2011

In this class we’ve talked about how women and gender intersect with social media. Throughout the class it has seemed that women using social media as a tool for empowerment has been a major theme. Social media has become a useful and far reaching tool. It spans age gaps and multicultural gaps. Through things like “Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out”, people have been able to transform media tools to express themselves, make a change, and create interesting and meaningful social and intellectual contributions. Social media has also provided an outlet and safe haven for marginalized and other wise oppressed groups in society. Social media has created social networks of support that span continents for members of the LGBTQQIA community who otherwise would not have the opportunity to connect and relate with a robust and supportive group. Social media has made being a marginalized population easier because it gives a voice and sense of agency to people who may not feel they have a voice.

Although social media has been a relatively positive tool for marginalized populations, there is an inherent power that accompanies use and knowledge of social media practices. As Saski Sassen mentioned at the “Theororizing the Web” conference, there is a power differential that comes into play when dealing with the internet. It assumes that the people using social media have privilege and access to these tools, but it does not mean that this knowledge is inherently better. Also, in the research included in “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out”, they mention that the number of computers in low income schools is disproportionately lower than in higher income schools. Although public library computers are available, the simple lack of access to social media may create a disproportionate representation of marginalized populations.

This course has been the culmination of several Women’s Studies courses and has reinforced ideas of intersectionality, post-modernism, and using technology as a means to further enhance the study and practice of all things women’s studies. In respects to this class, we’ve analyzed messages about how social media can be a tool for social justice (Zandt’s “Share This!”), the ecologies of social media and young adults (Ito et al. “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out”), and how social media is changing the face of scholarship worldwide (Theororizing the Web Conference). Through these critical analyses of social media’s impact on culture and gender, we’ve also incorporated ideas about defying binaries (Wilchins), public happiness and activism, and our own agency of women’s studies and social justice.

Over the span of the semester we’ve studied scholarly literature and critiqued the work in relation to ourselves and our beliefs. We’ve learned how to create coherent and logical arguments by connecting scholarly theories to one another and current events. Instead of regurgitating information we’ve been taught to bring a critical eye to everything we hear including and especially what is presented in class. We have also learned to be critical of ourselves. The projects we’ve been working on have been edited, redrafted, and added to several times to refine the message we want to convey and to merry scholarship and practice. By story boarding our progress and making weekly updates we’ve taken the creative process and made it tangible. We were able to present the early stages of our projects at the Theororizing the Web Conference that took place earlier in the semester. It was an intellectually stimulating conference that had speakers from around the country who had a varying set of interests.

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