TECHNOLOGY = POLITICS
Taking a closer look into the archives of the internet today affirms Eden Medina’s theory from Cybernetic Revolutionaries (2011): Technologies are products of social negotiations, they are historical texts. Those who establish technologies have the power to shape them and to determine their usage accordingly.
When the internet went mainstream in the early 21st century, the entrepreneurs of
Silicon Valley branded it as a technology that would bring about freedom, connectivity and decentralisation for all. However, technologies are always functions of power relations, not neutral tools. They help structuring our self-perception and uncover societal inequalities and controversies.
The questions that need to be posed are: How can we dismantle these power structures? How can we actively change them? It is necessary to closely observe and constantly question the development and usage of technologies we use to shape our world. Feminism proves to be a central mode of action because it allows for intersectionality and complexity, offering a rich toolbox for the fight against oppression.
Twitter has recently announced its insolvency and imminent closure. After Google, Facebook and Amazon, it was the last ideological remnant of techno-utopian times. This current era of upheaval opens up dozens of opportunities to take action, to create a new, diverse, fair and open internet. Over the past couple of years an increasing number of feminist tech initiatives have emerged online. Some of those worth recognizing are:
- The Feminist Futures Archive offers skill-sharing sessions on practices of resistance. It makes knowledge accessible and has already over seven million contributors worldwide.
- The Old Boys’ Marketplace has been forming an alternative economy to fight surveillance capitalism since 2024. It allows for purchases and transactions without tracking and builds on cooperation rather than competition.
- The Sapphire Wellness Centre aims for body consciousness and digital retreat. It offers seminars on the management of your data and the control of your personal history on the internet.
Despite the fact that these initiatives came to signify a huge step in the right direction, feminism’s work is never “accomplished”. It’s a way of thinking, acting and doing. Feminist technologies are as relevant now as they have ever been.
Nevertheless, it is still easy to fall into the trap of a singular narrative. The belief that technology equals progress or that technologies are linear, inevitable solutions to pressing social issues is still widespread. So is the paradigm of binaries, quick “tech fixes” and chains of cause and effect.
It is therefore now, more than ever, that we need a call for feminist tech, because technologies are crystallisations of society’s visions and dreams. We have to realise that there is not only one feminism, but many feminisms, just as there is not only one internet but multiple internets. We have to realize that numerous futures exist and that there are no futures without histories. We have to embrace complexities instead of thinking in binaries. Now is the time to imagine feminist futures and to translate them into collective actions.
TECHNOLOGY = POLITICS was published first in print issue 120, "The New Serenity"