even as they are spaces or subversion and socialmobilisation allowing users to circumvent thecontrols characteristic o the centralised systemso network societies, are also very attractive toperpetrators o sexual exploitation o women
.The immensely popular video games culture alsoperpetuates the overwhelming dominance o thehegemonic masculine discourse o mainstreammedia which normalises the representation owomen as passive, sexual objects. Markedly, hugecorporations with strong nancial backing own mosto the pornographic sites
.The new maniestations we see in the cartographieso exploitation and violence signal a troubling impasse:the inecacy o ‘older’ eminist analyses to inormcounter-hegemonic eminist action. At the same time,the policy context in many developing countries is arbehind techno-social innovation, and even where policiesdo exist, they are extremely inadequate in ensuring theprotection o women’s rights and enabling women’sclaims to the new social paradigm and its liberatorypotential.One o the greatest contradictions o virtual reality isthat it promises the marvels and wonders o a gender-ree world while simultaneously reproducing some othe most banal, fat images o gender identity, as alsoclass and race relations, typical o the pornographicregime o representation
. These trends pose almostirreconcilable dilemmas or eminism. Unortunately,women’s organisations and movements have not beenactively engaged in articulating progressive directions orlaw and policy in the digital environment. Appealing to thestate to regulate private interests and their control overdigital spaces is also not unproblematic, given that statesurveillance and censorship through digital technologiesis in itsel a real threat to women’s rights.And yet, in the absence o appropriate regulation andgender-responsive policies as well as the inability owomen’s movements and organisations to ormulaterecommendations, any action or progressive changeseems to be rather
. Invariably, any suchaction looks diminutive against the huge challenge ocorporatist consolidation o digital spaces and statecollusion with corporate power, as well as the blatantgender-blindness o largely technocratic state policy inthe inormation society context. In ocial policy, thecasting o digital technologies as vehicles o economicgrowth prooundly implicates state imaginaries o powerand nation-building and gender justice gets convenientlyrelegated to pave the way or private global capital
.It is not accidental that despite governmental andlaw enorcement responses to the distribution o childpornography, and child stalking in some countries,the sexual exploitation o adult women through newtechnologies is an issue that governments avoid.What we see as the emerging patterns o violence indigital spaces requires to be explored more closely orthe power relations underpinning the inormation societylogic. Delving into the content o inormation societycategories is the rst step to be able to discern thepatterns emerging as we join the dots marking the globaleveryday against the digital backdrop.
New congurations o power in thespace o fows
The undamental recongurations o society throughdigital technologies and changing trends in media – thetransition rom ‘traditional’ media to a new compositemedia architecture – that underline virtuality as adominant ingredient, in act denote new discoursesaround identity and representation. In the new mediaarchitecture that is convergent, there is a shit in thevery nature o media – rom a tool that mediates andrepresents to the virtual space that ractures truththrough multiple representations o the truth narrative(that traditional print media or instance did not allow).Multiplicity now is thus part o our shared new digital-age ‘reality’.The Internet and other digital media not only transmitcultures, they denote spaces conguring new and hybridcultures that blend the virtual and the real. Inormationsociety ontologies enable oppressed and marginalisedgroups to disrupt and challenge the tyrannies o socialstructures; equally, the digital environment urtherentrenches dominant ideologies o power. ManuelCastells in his work on the ‘network society’
talks aboutthe ‘space o fows’
, the new geographies shaped bydigital technologies, that restructure power relations
IT or Change Think Piece, Understanding gender in a digitally transormed world
The architecture o an equitable andgender just digital arena cannot buildonly on the promise o an open, bottom-up and participatory global Internet. Itdemands appropriate positive globalpolicy action or creating, nurturing andpreserving a global public inormationand communication inrastructure.