Feminism in the context of digital media -
Pakistan Press Foundation

Feminism in the context of digital media

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI:The 21st century has seen various worldwide movements gain momentum, with feminism and climate change being the prominent ones. Where methods of demonstrations and disapprovals have also evolved with increasing globalisation and reliance on digital means, what has played a significant role in disseminating messages is social media.

To discuss the renewed, contemporary feminist policies as a result of this interaction between activism and the World Wide Web, students, activists and journalists gathered in the Frere Hall gardens for a session organised by the Women Democratic Front on Sunday.

The discussion revolved around the pros and cons of using digital and social media to pursue activism and propagate the message of movements, the likes of feminism in particular.

“There’s a wide range of content available now with a massive reach,” said rights activist, Laila Raza. “Social media provides a platform for people to express views but it also gives them the luxury to talk from their comfort zones instead of actually struggling on the ground for causes and connecting with people,” she explained. “It is important to understand the dynamics of both and create a balance. Social media can be useful but then one must not be oblivious to the ground realities,” she added.

The speakers shared their thoughts on how movements like the MeToo, Times Up and Aurat March gained momentum through people coming out on social media, thus validating its importance. They agreed on sharing the word with less-privileged people.

“It’s safe to say that movements like feminism and other such struggles with a strong backing on social media are considered elitist,” lamented Women Democratic Front (WDF) member and mental health activist Khushbakht Memon. “Feminists in the digital space are accused of staying in a bubble without having the slightest realisation of reality,” she added. “People on the digital spectrum come from various backgrounds and hold different opinions and the idea of empowerment in feminism is to take all the classes together,” she said.

Reiterating the need to effectively use social media to educate and empower people, WDF member Sadaf Thalho said that digital platforms can be used to unite people. “We have seen Ghotki riots gaining immediate attention because of the outcry over social media. This unity against injustice indeed provoked the authorities to intervene as well,” she said, acknowledging the power of virality on social media. “There have been instances where victims of sexual harassment received immense support after mere discussion on Facebook posts.”

Allizah Ayesha, a student who identifies herself as a feminist, was of the view that where social media is publicising, it is also disenfranchising theories.

“It is an important source of learning and implements the feminist ideas to a certain extent, but people become exhaustive on social platforms and do not become part of actual struggles, which is a frustrating fact about digital media,” she said. “Having said that, what sometimes cannot be discussed on the ground can be accomplished online.”

The participants also mentioned that social media’s accessibility to a vast number of people also means equal space and importance is given to the counter-narratives since it is for ‘everyone’.

Source: The Express Tribune