Masthead CMC Magazine / March 1, 1996
 Grrrls Exude Attitude, by Amelia DeLoach

Ghettos on the Web?

As cyberspace becomes more heavily populated with sites, it begins to reflect society at large. Salespersons advertise their wares. College students create study diversions. And activists voice their opinions. Thus, as the interest-specific medium gains new settlers does the fact that feminists create sites for other feminists create something of a pink ghetto on the W eb?

NOT!, say most of the grrrls.

"I've had some women (about 2 out of hundreds of thousands) say that by creating women-only spaces, we are setting women back, ghettoizing ourselves, blah blah blah," Aliza says. "My sites aren't ghettos and they are enjoyed by all, not just women. Women find a friend online and men get a positive dose of woman-power that isn't shoved down their throats and they respond in very supportive ways."

While some sites, such as those created by Aliza, seek to help bring colleagues together, other sites simply exist to express opinions. These differences lie at the heart of why ghettoization does not exist on the Web according to RosieX.

"Diversity and independence rule!" she says. Ghettoes have that connotation of confinement which is an anathema to the philosophical underpinnings of hypertext and hypermedia--no one is tracked by hovering black helicopters in the Web. The reasons women's sites are important is to 'show' the diversity of feminist opinion and talent using this medium."

While the developers contend that the grrrls sites don't ghettoize, Crystal contends that the high-gloss commercial ventures tend to philosophically ghettoize their audience and for this reason, the grrrl sites are needed counteract many of the blatant and subtle sexist messages these publications convey. "Woman/grrrl-powered websites are important because varieties of de facto institutional (academic) sexism and cultural myths about technology as a 'guy' thing *still* work to keep many women away from computers and from active participation in the construction of the Internet. ...The very traditional way that the online and multimedia industries are creating the "woman's Internet market" to cater to the same 'ol women-as-consumers, Seventeen-Cosmo-Woman's-Day market is so insulting. THAT's ghettoization!! I mean, have you LOOKED at (New) Sassy's monthly cyberfeature column??!"

However, for other grrrls the issue of ghettoization has a large mass of gray area between its black and white ends. "This is something I've been of two minds about for a long time," Amelia says. I finally decided to go ahead and make the NrrdGrrl! site because I really felt like I had something to say- and my directory is different from collections of women's pages that are put together by someone based on some other criteria. I don't choose them, they choose me. Inclusion in the NrrdGrrl! directory is only for women who *ask* to be listed because they agree with what the site says and represents-more like signing your name to a petition. And frankly, there is still inequity. Women do have difficulty finding each other on the Net, and although the numbers are equalizing at a rapid pace, women's sites will continue to exist as long as they are valid and serve a purpose. Does NOW ghettoize?" ^

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