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Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites
Unformatted Document Text:  Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites 1 Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites The Internet as a communications medium has great potential to transform and enhance individual lives as well as influence society and culture. It provides an expansive and seemingly infinite space in which new communication patterns can develop, diverse discourses can exist, and geographical boundaries can be overcome. Is the Internet achieving these great expectations? What changes are being made by the Internet in our environment and what are the implications for women as users, producers, and constructs of the Internet? The purpose of this paper is to analyze the potential of the medium as it is being used by and for women and to explore the representations of women that are being created on online, specifically on three feminist Web sites: Feminist.com, Msmagazine.com, and NOW.org. These sites were selected to represent the full gamut of feminist sites in terms of production: a Web-only production (Feminist.com), a site with print companion (msmagazine.com), and a non- profit companion (now.org). Levels of Participation User There are several modes to which individuals can participate online. The first is that of the user. Women are participating as online users in greater numbers than ever, and the digital divide in the U.S. between men and women in terms of their online usage is nearly closed. According to the Nielson/Netratings, women accounted for 52% of Internet users as of December 2001. 1 But this information can be deceiving. The same study showed that while women have equal numbers of Internet accounts, the actual time spent online is less than that of men and the activities performed online vary widely

Authors: Royal, Cindy.
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Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites
1
Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites
The Internet as a communications medium has great potential to transform and
enhance individual lives as well as influence society and culture. It provides an
expansive and seemingly infinite space in which new communication patterns can
develop, diverse discourses can exist, and geographical boundaries can be overcome.
Is the Internet achieving these great expectations? What changes are being made by
the Internet in our environment and what are the implications for women as users,
producers, and constructs of the Internet? The purpose of this paper is to analyze the
potential of the medium as it is being used by and for women and to explore the
representations of women that are being created on online, specifically on three feminist
Web sites: Feminist.com, Msmagazine.com, and NOW.org. These sites were selected
to represent the full gamut of feminist sites in terms of production: a Web-only
production (Feminist.com), a site with print companion (msmagazine.com), and a non-
profit companion (now.org).
Levels of Participation
User
There are several modes to which individuals can participate online. The first is
that of the user. Women are participating as online users in greater numbers than ever,
and the digital divide in the U.S. between men and women in terms of their online usage
is nearly closed. According to the Nielson/Netratings, women accounted for 52% of
Internet users as of December 2001.
1
But this information can be deceiving. The same
study showed that while women have equal numbers of Internet accounts, the actual
time spent online is less than that of men and the activities performed online vary widely


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