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I was going to say "adamantium" but wolverine doesn't do post-modernism
Hey baby.
brown_betty
First, let me define my terms: While I say 'we' and 'our', I am generalizing from my experience. I believe this to be true for enough people that it is meaningful, but I do not claim (and would be rather surprised) if it were universally the experience. While I speak in absolutes, I mean that the thing is true to the extent it is experienced that way, and not, in all the ways it isn't. This may seem rather weasel-y to you, which is fair.

Second, I am a white woman, and relatively privileged. I cannot say to what extent this is experienced by those who lack my privilege. That said, on to the blatherings!*

The body electric XHTML

It is, I believe, common knowledge that Livejournal's user demographics skew female. I believe that part of Livejournal's appeal to women rises from its social-networking structure; not the linkages, but the autonomy. Each person's livejournal constitutes an inviolable territory, which can only be transgressed at our sufferance. Within the boundaries of our livejournals, consent is not a social-covenant, or an agreement, but an absolute law, no more to be ignored than gravity. There is never any need to explain to someone that 'no means no', because ban_set does not 'mean' no; it is no, with absolute force.

I am going to argue further: Livejournal has become an outlet for women's sexuality precisely because of this. We allow ourselves to be sexual in ways we perhaps do not incarnate, not just because of the pseudonymity, or the insulating safety of geography, but because we do know that our consent on livejournal is not just meaningful, but absolute. Because we know the force of our No, we can Yes.

It is with the knowledge of the impermeability of the boundaries of our XHTML selves that we then make ourselves permeable, on our terms, to those we choose. We can engage on our terms, with those we trust, or hazard ourselves to the unknown of anonymous commenting, always with the knowledge that if we feel unsafe, we can withdraw within the adamantine shell of 'Friends Only." Certainly this is a more constrained existence, but it secure in a way we can not be in the world of meat, even if we barricade our doors and nail shut our windows.

On livejournal, then, we for the first time experience inviolability, absolute security, in a way that the real world cannot or will not give us. A restraining order is a weak imitation of the full force of ban_set.



* brown_betty: I do like about lj that one has a sort of absolute bodily autonomy, if one's lj is one's body, which it isn't.
Betty: But still.
commodorified: YES.
Betty: One rarely has so much control.
commodorified: IF one is ready to ... there's a feminist meta in this.
commodorified: *it's your turn*

I like this.

You deserve much more thought from me than that, but my brain is crisped around the edges.

*gently rubs aloe into your brain*

LOFFLY! I'm going to link this, okay?

Sure, anything public is perfectly fine.

this is marvelous. and hilarious and almost parody, except TRUE. oh man. i love it.

Now there's an interesting comment! SAY MORE.

mmmm, sexy! I like!

It makes me think, all the more in that I'm just recently (in the wake of the recent racist imbroglios in the feminist blogosphere) starting to follow more of the feminist blogs, and thinking about feminisms in LJ and on blogs (just as a while ago, I was thinking about academia in LJ and on blogs--in the wake of the aca-fan debate, it came out that a lot of the women aca-fen--but not all--are on LJ and just about ALL of the male aca-fen are on blogs, though we brought a few over to the LJ side).

You've identified something that I've loved about LJ from the start and didn't even need to say.

And I want more!

And with respect to that, it's probably no surprise that a Blog is considered more Professional and LJ is considered where you go to whine about your cat and post quiz results of what muppet you are.

also i think LJ is 'bodily' in other ways, ways that don't apply to regular standalone blogs. one's LJ exists in a social matrix, but it's a singular, it's you, and you don't create a site or create a blog, you just sit here being your LJ, and you can go listen to other people, and they can come listen to you, and you can form connections between LJs but....with regular blogs it seems to be like a product, a publication, something definitely in public space. whereas LJ, even when unlocked, feels like semi-private space--social space, maybe--because you're not publishing, you're just existing.

i mean, it's not just the constantly-parroted "women like social networks!" thing...and there's something here about the fandom shift from lists to LJ, too, where participation in fandom moves from what you say to who you are, as a unit. HMMM, THOUGHTS.

Yes, see, and various connections on lj are in a way various intimacies, in that way that subscribing also gives access, so that one is made vulnerable in a way that one isn't by watching an rss feed.

Also, as I said to commodorified, no one ever has their rss-subscribers come to their defence.

This is fascinating. I'm curious now as to how these qualifications could be applied (if at all) to other social interaction systems, and the place of naming conventions (IE: use of legal names versus assumed identity) in your infrastructure.

Well, I think part of the autonomy/'safety' of the livejournal comes from its lack of association with the more fragile parts of our lives, so I think the use of a legal name makes quite a difference. I think the tendency of more marginalized and high risk groups to use pseuds in online interaction has been discussed, too.

I'm really not sure how to extend this to other frameworks, though.

Hmmm.

Yes, I see your point, most definitely. The only ways in which I've felt unsafe on LJ were when outside forces threatened to impinge on my privacy (the whole Strikethrough debacle).

And of course, all the ways that (generally) women (tend to) make one another feel unsafe. The safety of the f-lock is often good cover for launching a smear campaign.

Yes, I was thinking about some of the deletions, and how violated people spoke of feeling about it. While I strongly resist any such equivalence, people do and have spoken of having their livejournals taken from their control as rape.

Here via commodorified's link, and you've reminded me of a couple of friends who've been squeamish about using the banhammer on trolls, and that taken in the context of the last week and a half's meta on consent and boundaries started some very interesting mental connections indeed on the ways in which those trolls (all male, possibly not-so-coincidentally) were acting aggressively in ways framed in real world headspace that could not work in the context of the target's own journal unless she was so conditioned to wilt at (male) aggression that she refused to exert her own authority within a structure designed to make it easy and consequence-free for her to do so.

Mhmm, I think you're right. I think the key there is "consequence-free." In meat-space, these things are not safe to do, and it's extremely hard to recondition yourself on these matters. I mean, even if you could suddenly breathe water, one day, and knew it, it might be a little hard to entrust your safety to that.

Huh. Yeah. I can see that.

Hi! I found your journal today through a good search for Bruce Wayne/Lois Lane and just had to friend you. Hope that's cool. :)

Sure, but I haven't written anything along those lines for a while, I hope you aren't disappointed!

Hmm, yes. And it's so difficult to defend that space on one's own behalf. I've gotten anonymous rude comments and just deleted them and thought "don't engage, don't engage..." and then someone who had me friended trolled my journal and made personal attacks on people she'd taken in, and I found it really hard to put my foot down and tell her "No, you're not allowed to do that in my space." Moderating a space that wasn't mine was comparitively easy, because it wasn't on my own behalf. It's like saying "I'd prefer if you didn't touch my knee" - really, really awkward.

I hadn't actually thought of this angle. Huh. I actually tend to be a little hesitant to jump right in, except in cases where I know the person who I am trying to defend well enough that I'm at least pretty sure they won't mind.

This...is very neat.

It also puts an interesting spin on all the hate and nastiness in fandom that is directed at people who have opinions, but do use filters, ban anons, and freeze/delete where necessary to prevent dogpiling and other unpleasantness.

Mmmm... thinky! I find this pretty reflective of my own experience. I'm certainly bawdier, more frank, especially about sexuality, my own & in general, behind this name & a dork-tacular icon than I would feel comfortable being face-to-face in my five-foot-nothing, still-occasionally-gets-carded-for-R-rated-movies, physical body. Especially among relative strangers.

Yes. IRL, I'm REALLY LITTLE. When I'm in an area with good early childhood nutrition, I'm probably in the smallest 10% of adults. But on lj, hey!

I like what you're saying. I just don't think that the inviolability and sense of control is as absolute as this model suggests due to social pressures. Plenty of people stop Ljing, just as they stop blogging, when they feel unsafe or violated by portions of the community, like bfp and Blackamazon did.

Yes, and I do understand it. People even delete their ljs, and at least when I notice that happening, it's generally explicitly because of social pressures.

I've had some half-baked ideas on why LJ works so well for me personally, but you've managed to express parts of it so much better than I ever could. (The other parts are about the communities and flists allowing us to interact via our blog!selves, not just with a screen name like in messagboards/mailing lists.) But yeah, this goes into the memories...

In the last week, dozens of people have added my journal—most of have been women, and many have been mostly or entirely friends only. So I was starting to wonder something along these lines myself.

It also brings to mind the issue, oh so many LJ wanks ago, when people started a scraping site that used LJ passwords to access locked posts. I can't recall the name of it anymore.

I remember that site, dimly. Metaphorically, it would be the lover who sribbled your phone-number and a review on the restroom wall.

(Deleted comment)
Yes, and this is definitely a strength of El Jay, in my opinion! I hadn't thought about that re: digg, but I had definitely come to the conclusion that I preferred del.icio.us, so I think you're on to something there.

Hi! I came here via metafandom and I'm finding everyone in this discussion brilliant at articulating things that I know or have vaguely sensed, but wouldn't know how to put together coherently in words.

It's funny; even though my flist is mostly female it took a long time for me to tumble to the fact that LJ (and clone sites) fandom is, in effect, female space and is treated as such by participants. I guess it's because at the beginning of my time in online fandom I was in mostly male space (on movie forums) and somewhere along the line, having internalized internet-fandom-as-male-space as the norm, it just didn't occur to me that I was now in a space constructed by women. Now I've grokked it, I'm noticing little things all the time that make me glad LJ fandom is the way it is.

One of these days I have to post about my experience of the different communities I've been part of online, and how the dynamics have been influenced by gender... thanks again for a very stimulating post!

Yes, my first experience of fandom (which is what I'm doing on lj, mostly) was actually a male dominated fandom, and I sort of assumed that was what most internet fandom was: turns out, no!

> Because we know the force of our No, we can Yes.

I was having coffee with commodorified, and discussing an LJ RPG I've recently joined, and the level of OOC joking about sex and IC hooking-up that was going on. And I think it's fair to say that she was a little suprised that I was engaging in this (which is okay, so am I). And your post came up, and she asked me to think about the RPG in light of it, and I came over here to see.

Will comment in more detail later, but wanted to say that that line I quoted above really struck a chord. It's not quite what struck me most[1], but it's close.
---
[1] What struck me most was the OOC discussion I was having with someone whose character was hooking up with mine, and exactly how profoundly those cleared out the little trained reflex in the back of my brain that says "Maybe you shouldn't flirt. Flirting might not be okay. Someone might take it wrong."

However, it's probably worth noting that the opinions of the other people in the game were not a concern in the first place, which is different from the usual situation when that don't-flirt thing goes off.

I hope that made sense.

I love your icon!

I know that not everyone on lj is comfortable with the homosocial flirtiness that is nearly default here, but I think one of the reasons there are much higher levels of flirtiness is because it doesn't have danger attached, the way it can IRL.

Interesting thoughts - I hadn't thought about it this way. Thanks for posting!

this thought is shiny.
... it is one in the morning here so my brain is non-shiny, but I thought I'd say that.

Think this is a brilliant analysis.
It also explains why I am frequently assumed to be female.
On LJ one associates on equal terms,or not at all.

here via a link you posted in a comment to another post, which is all a round about way of saying this is an incredible insight, and thank you, because it puts concretely something that has been floating around in my head for awhile about the difference between LJ and blogs.