Monday, October 6, 2008

A room of one's own = agency

The article we read this week in All About the Girl titled “Girls’ Web Sites: A Virtual ‘Room of One’s Own’?” brought up many good reasons behind girls creating their own web pages. I definitely agree that for girls having a web page is a way to explore her own independence, authority, and agency. This virtual space is a place where she is in charge, not her parents, teacher, or peers. It is a way for her to cultivate and create her own creativity and it is used as an outlet for any passions or emotions she otherwise may not be allowed to express. It is a way for girls to communicate and socialize outside of school. This is especially important if the girl does not have many people at school, home, or other out of school activities to be friendly with. This may be relevant to children who are home schooled or have social anxiety disorders. These children who do not socialize much outside of a virtual space have a place where they can make friends and communicate about their hobbies and interests.

Since this article was written, myspace and Facebook are more popular ways for girls to have a page online, as opposed to a simple site you can access with a URL. I think that this can help with the safety issue involved with a virtual page. Because myspace and Facebook can be set on private settings, I think it makes these “rooms” become safer. Instead of letting any old viewer into one’s “room”, they can be selective about who they let in. However, this can potentially become more dangerous because girls may feel they can put much more personal or private information on the internet about themselves than they would if they knew the page could be accessed by any old person.

Despite the dangers of myspace and Facebook that have been in the media, I think that having a “room of one’s own” is a great way for girls to achieve agency over their own lives. At an age where most decisions are made for you by your parents and teachers and creative juices are sometimes stifled, I think having this type of space is extremely productive. I think that parents should be the ones responsible for the safety involved with girls having their own virtual spaces, though.


amanda said...

I agree that Facebook and Myspace may be safer because you have to search for them but as you mentioned many people still put too much information on their page. Also even though you have to be a certain age to join it's so easy for them to just lie about their age. I think these sites should make every page private, that way you have to be their friend to see their profile. People would still be able to express themselves but not have to worry about strangers lurking on their page.

Leila said...

Oh yeah, my friend's 9-year-old daughter has a MySpace. She just figured out what year you must be born in to be 14. I think the fact that some pages can be public allows for more activist possibility/potential, so I think it should still be up to the individual to make their page private. I understand how it's problematic, but I would hate to shut down the activist potential of social network spaces by keeping messages hidden or private. If someone is searching for a Pet Safehouse in Brevard, they can find it on MySpace without me having to add them as a friend, etc. Anyway, it is a compelling issue for discussion!