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

Stone and Turkle: Exploring Gendered Communications Technologies

Through a description of early and emergent virtual communities and trends in computation, Sandy Stone and Sherry Turkle both recount fables of loss of innocence, delve into boundary stories, and explore shifting notions of identity as mediated through networked technologies. Stone calls this 'floating identities', and Turkle uses the metaphor of windows, but for both, these computerized simulacrums allow for a decentered and multi-faceted life.

As both authors show, communication technologies are gendered through the ways in which they are used to construct us as men or as women (or as other). As well, the social practices with which networked technologies are put to use implicates gendered constructions. Blatant examples of this include online crossdressing and gender-bending role-playing and sexual play (from tinysex to flirtations), to merely a pervasive gendered reticence in using and mastering the computer.

Both explore the intersection and often conflicting stance between the private and the public spheres that computer- mediated communication, and especially role-playing worlds such as MUDs and MOOs, can create. How technologies alter, aid, or constrict women's opportunities for interacting with each other, or with the wider public domain, is considered. Stone and Turkle would both agree that multiple gendered characteristics need to be integrated into the net-sphere, i.e., 'feminine' attributes such as collaboration and conciliation, and different forms of creativity. For instance, accountability in virtual systems is one example: as Stone has mentioned, the ability to log out of virtual systems is one aspect that "feminist analysts of virtual systems find most rankling" (p.120)

--Stone chooses an idealized stance to provoke debate, while Turkle continues the pioneering work she began in her The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit.

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