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Now live: Ada Issue no. 10

Congratulations to Issue Editors Carol Stabile (University of Oregon), Radhika Gajjala (Bowling Green State University), and Sarah T. Hamid for the launch of Ada: A Journal of New Media and Technology, Issue no. 10.

 

Ada Issue no. 10, offers scholarly analyses that attempt to make sense of the various approaches to gender and race discrimination and new surveillance methods, while challenging the political representations of racialized and gendered bodies. The articles in this issue offer intersectional approaches to scholarship on the impact of media and technology through a critical exploration of topics ranging from online harassment, heteronormative gender representations in digital dating apps, revenge porn, effects of gender and racial stereotypes of Black females on college campuses through representations in rap music, sexism and sexual objectification of college women in the digital party scene, female representations of superheroes in movies, and the exposition of the institutional gaze on racialized bodies through live action social media video.

Issue Contents:

Thinking Beyond ‘Free Speech’ in Responding to Online Harassment

By Sky Croeser

OnOnline harassment is a significant problem, and an important movement has emerged in response. However, this activism usually refers back to free speech discourse. I argue that an intersectional approach requires us to explore a more radical rethinking of the political traditions we draw on when responding to online harassment.

Dismantling ‘You Get What You Deserve’: Towards a Feminist Sociology of Revenge Porn

By Emilee Eikren & Mary Ingram-Waters

With this research, we seek to formulate a feminist sociology of revenge porn, defined as the non-consensual circulation of intimate images with the intent to harm, to bring together two existing explanations for critical interrogation: that revenge porn is a gendered crime that disproportionately affects women and that these women get what they deserve. We look at focus group data to target this tension between why women are both victimized and held responsible for their own victimization. We contribute to a small but growing body of research that sees revenge porn and other types of cybersexual assault through a theoretical framework that explains violence against women as systemic, as a range of symbolic and physical actions of masculine domination, as punishment for women’s sexual agency, and as facilitated by unmarked structural and behavioral features of the Internet and social media.

Black Deaths Matter? Sousveillance and the Invisibility of Black Life

By Mia Fischer & K. Mohrman

This article examines the shooting of Philando Castile, and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds’, decision to film his death at the hands of the police, in order to explore the potential of live-streaming applications as a form of “sousveillance” that can expose white supremacy from below. In highlighting the political economy constraints that limit the dissemination of such images, we argue that the geographic and historical context of these videos as well as their integration into social justice movements, are critical for deploying them as effective tools that challenge racial inequality and make black life matter, not just black death.

Black Beauty and Digital Spaces: The New Visibility Politics

By Janell Hobson

Less than a year after the creation of the viral hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, an equally catchy and politically charged slogan surfaced: #BlackGirlMagic. This latest hashtag insists on making black women’s bodies both visible and legible in contexts of beauty, desirability, and dignity. However, more needs to be said about how digital spaces have reified the raced and gendered meanings of black women’s bodies, in which representative and performative sites of beauty and defiance contribute to the shaping of black political subjects. At times, this becomes a space for subversion and protest, at other times a way of narrowing definitions and essentialist understandings of ‘black womanhood’ and ‘black girlhood.’ A black beauty project must grapple with a more complex examination of the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, and disability that can reframe black embodiment beyond commercialized spectacles and toward more diverse representations of liberated bodies.

Sisters Rap the Blues: Examining the Perceived Impact of Rap Music on Black Women College Students

By B. Afeni McNeely Cobham

The following qualitative study examines how Black women college students enrolled at a Predominately White Institution (PWI) perceive the impact of mainstream rap music on their academic experiences. For the purpose of this study mainstream rap music is defined in two ways: a high profile subgenre of Hip Hop culture and, second, pervasively sexist, homophobic, heteronormative, violent music. Respondents of the study provided oral narratives of campus encounters that reinforce stereotypes related to race and gender (Solorzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000); depict Black women as incompetent or as less intelligent (Williamson, 1999); and create isolation or cultural miscues among White peers (Banks, 2009). The conceptual framework of Hip Hop Feminism serves as a point of entry to unpack how respondents negotiate intersecting social identities and complex contradictions of Black womanhood, identity and culture. Moreover, in this paper, four of the six findings are highlighted to illustrate common practices respondents used to resist stereotypes. These include engaging in self-imposed boundaries; creating emotional distance from the perceived source of harm; code switching to thwart negative perceptions of intellectual inferiority and participating in Hip Hop on ‘their’ terms. The implications of this inquiry could impact the successful matriculation of Black women as institutions attempt to cultivate a healthy campus climate specific to social spaces, embed culturally relevant and engaging pedagogy, and develop policies and procedures that seek to reduce or eradicate gendered racial microaggressions.

‘It’s Just a Lot More Casual’: Young Heterosexual Women’s Experience of Using Tinder in New Zealand

By Panteá Farvid & Kayla Aisher

Tinder is a mobile dating app that has recently taken off among young heterosexuals. While attracting great media attention, little scholarly work exists on the topic. In this paper we begin to address this gap by reporting on a small research project that examined five young heterosexual women’s experiences of using Tinder in New Zealand. We argue that Tinder was situated within (and reproduced) a contradictory domain imbued elements of both pleasure and danger.

Let’s Be Abominable Feminists: Yeti: Campus Stories and Sexism in the Digital College Party Scene

By Jeremiah Favara & Caitlyn Kawamura

Social media and mobile apps are increasingly a part of college culture and are being mobilized in the college party scene. Through the use of digital ethnography, this paper focuses on the app Yeti: Campus Stories to explore the role of social media apps in digital college party culture in perpetuating and potentially challenging sexist spaces on college campuses. We argue that women’s participation in the digital college party scene is guided by a narrow set of gendered and sexualized expectations where women can exercise some agency and control while ultimately being exposed to harassment within a scene organized around the interests of heterosexual masculinity. Images of women posted by men, often without the women’s consent, function as forms of digital sex talk where status for men is linked to toxic expressions of heterosexual masculinity. Themes found on Yeti reveal problems of gender inequality and consent in digital college party culture in need of feminist interventions.

Computer Love: Replicating Social Order Through Early Computer Dating Systems

By Marie Hicks

Although online dating has only recently become culturally acceptable and widespread, using computers to make romantic matches has a long history. But rather than revolutionizing how people met and married, this article shows how early computerized dating systems re-inscribed conservative social norms about gender, race, class, and sexuality. It explores the mid-twentieth century origins of computer dating and matchmaking in order to argue for the importance of using sexuality as a lens of analysis in the history of computing. Doing so makes more visible the heteronormativity that silently structures much of our technological infrastructure and helps bring other questions about gender, race, and class into the foreground. The article connects this history to other examples in the history of technology that show how technological systems touted as “revolutionary” often help entrenched structural biases proliferate rather than breaking them down. The article also upsets the notion that computer dating systems can simply be understood as a version of the “boys and their toys” narrative that has dominated much of computing history. It shows that, contrary to what was previously believed, the first computerized dating system in either the US or the UK was run by a woman.

Gender Differences in Movie Superheroes’ Roles, Appearances, and Violence

By Monica Miller, Jessica Rauch & Tatyana Kaplan

BIt is important to understand the content of media, as media can promote stereotypes that communicate what gender roles, appearances, and acts of violence are acceptable in society. This content analysis of 147 superheroes in 80 movies found that male heroes appeared much more frequently than female heroes. Females were more likely to work in a group while males were more likely to work alone. Males were more powerful, muscular, violent, and evil while women were more attractive, thin, sexy/seductive, innocent, afraid, and helpless. Compared to males’, females’ clothes (both costumes and non-costumes) were more revealing on both the upper and lower bodies. Although both genders frequently have special abilities and use weapons, male characters are more likely than female characters to have more than one special ability and use more than one weapon. Males more often had super strength and resistance to injury, while female characters more often were able to manipulate elements (e.g., fire). Males were significantly more likely to use fighting skills, fire/flame weapons, and guns than females. The messages portrayed through superhero movies are discussed, with emphasis on implications of gender differences in portrayals of characters in movies.