Betty (brown_betty) wrote,

I was going to say "adamantium" but wolverine doesn't do post-modernism

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*
Tags: meta: feminism
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