New Criticals

So much of feminism has been about coming up with the words to describe or explain something that was always there but the words to describe it were missing. Betty Friedan’s  ‘problem with no name’ that captured the malaise and depression of post-war American women points to this issue. The term ‘sexual harassment’ was only coined in the early 1970s. The dissemination of the vast array of terms now available to describe not only forms of oppression, but also the expression of gender and sexuality, is infinitely speeded up by the power of the internet: where formerly younger people might have spent years wondering why it was they felt this way when no one else around them did, now at least there is a chance that they might come across a description, a term or even an entire community that makes them feel less alone.

I think what is perhaps most interesting about internet feminism in the contemporary online world is again a kind of narrowing of the gap - not just between concepts and their recognition, but between descriptions of something awful and the desire to do something about it. The speeded-up time of internet life also creates an impatience with the world as it is: now it is possible to organise, on or offline, modes of opposition that take up almost immediate umbrage with the world as it currently is. The possibilities for consciousness-raising, but also action, are now extended in almost every direction.