Masthead CMC Magazine / March 1, 1996
 The Gendered Mystique, by Leslie Regan Shade

Spender: Sounding A Call to Virtual Sisterhood

Nattering on the Net: Women, Power, and Cyberspace
by Dale Spender
Spinifex Press, 1995
ISBN 1-875559-09-4
$19.95 (US) $24.95 (Australia)

--Dale Spender addresses head-on the issue of gender equity to the Net and rallies sisters, daughters, and grandmothers to get online:

"...the computer is not a toy; it is the site of wealth, power and influence. now and in the future. Women-and indigenous people, and those with few resources-cannot afford to be marginalised or excluded from this new medium. To do so will be to risk becoming the information-poor. It will be to not count; to be locked out of full participation in society in the same way that illiterate people have been disenfranchised in a print world" (pp. xvi)
In Nattering Spender argues that, from the beginning of the print culture in the 15th century, the standard that has been imposed is that of the white, professional man; and that the literary canon that followed also standarized this patriarchal sensibility. The potentiality of networked technologies, according to Spender, is in their ability to subvert the traditional literary texts:

"...what fun there will be in doing the rewrites, eliminating racism and sexism, turning a few heroes into villians and victims into avengers, in changing the plots and the endings. We will be able to bring Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary back to life, (and send a few men to an unpleasant death); give Jane Austen's Mr. Knightley his come-uppance, bring Mrs. Rochester out of the attic, have Ophelia come back from her watery grave and give more than a piece of her mind to Hamlet. Far from putting an end to the novels and plays of the Great Tradition, the possibilities of interactional fiction will introduce new life-and laughter-into the old form" (p. 64).
Whether or not the literary works Spender cites reside in the public domain, or whether authors will tolerate their works being manipulated through the simple cut and paste mechanics of digital plasticity is rather doubtful. Insofar as copyright in the digital environment is concerned, I would be curious to know what kind of feminist analysis Spender would have on these current debates, particularly with the tensions between public interest and commercial viewpoints. --


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