Reflections on Cybermind, V1.0

Salwa Ghaly

Abstract

This short piece attempts to reconstitute and reflect upon my impressions of the world of Cybermind, the cyberlist I joined in the spring of 2001. At the time, I resided in the United Arab Emirates, an important fact to underline at the outset, as my initial reactions and views on cyberspace were undoubtedly coloured by my geographic and cultural situatedness as much as by how my gender and ethnic identity played out online. Although I present, in what follows, a personal account, I would like to posit that my conclusions regarding gender dynamics on Cybermind reflect not only my own experience of/on online lists, but possibly that of other women listers as well. On Cybermind, women listers are caught between, on the one hand, the list as a would-be rhizomatic space holding out the liberatory promise of multiple playing fields for all, women included, and, on the other, the regulatory apparatuses working to align disembodied with embodied space, such that the former comes to refract, if not reflect, the latter. In what follows, I seek to share with the readers some thoughts, often disjointed, on how, despite all our efforts and wishes to make of the internet an empowering space for women, women’s voices in cyberspace can be censored, curtailed and excluded through online verbal and nonverbal processes and actions that seek to inscribe hierarchy and order by assigning and maintaining traditional gender roles.

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