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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 4 Resulting Representation But women’s usage of and contribution to the online medium lead to the third level of participation, that of representation. How have the current publishers of the Internet depicted women and for what purposes? The past several months have shown a shakeout of E-commerce-oriented Web sites. The rush to cyberspace to make a quick buck has now been replaced by a cautious sense of trying to figure out exactly how to make money on this vast frontier. In a Marxist reading, the Internet is being used to predominantly satisfy capitalist needs. 7 As a target market, women are being reached on some of the mainstream sites by stereotypes and exclusions that have been inherited from traditional media: the homemaker, the quest for beauty, pleasing your man, arts and crafts. The conventional wisdom is that identification comes from recognition in the broadest sense. The danger is in the narrow definitions and images that serve to exclude and alienate rather than include and invite. The mainstream women’s sites like iVillage.com and Oxygen have taken a women’s magazine model that hasn’t held up well to feminist critique. 8 In a New York Times article, Francine Prose characterized these sites as “a wasteland of one’s own” that offer superficial, vapid content within culturally acceptable stereotypes. 9 What one finds is an attempt to create spaces for women by women, but that still embrace the notion of an essential femininity, with no regard to its cultural or essential origins. This phenomenon is occurring in an environment in which capturing the largest audience is paramount to understanding the nature and meaning of signs and signifiers in a post- structuralist manner. Lisbet van Zoonen articulated that “feminist media struggle with

Authors: Royal, Cindy.
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Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites
4
Resulting Representation
But women’s usage of and contribution to the online medium lead to the third
level of participation, that of representation. How have the current publishers of the
Internet depicted women and for what purposes? The past several months have shown
a shakeout of E-commerce-oriented Web sites. The rush to cyberspace to make a
quick buck has now been replaced by a cautious sense of trying to figure out exactly
how to make money on this vast frontier. In a Marxist reading, the Internet is being
used to predominantly satisfy capitalist needs.
7
As a target market, women are being
reached on some of the mainstream sites by stereotypes and exclusions that have been
inherited from traditional media: the homemaker, the quest for beauty, pleasing your
man, arts and crafts. The conventional wisdom is that identification comes from
recognition in the broadest sense. The danger is in the narrow definitions and images
that serve to exclude and alienate rather than include and invite.
The mainstream women’s sites like iVillage.com and Oxygen have taken a
women’s magazine model that hasn’t held up well to feminist critique.
8
In a New York
Times article, Francine Prose characterized these sites as “a wasteland of one’s own”
that offer superficial, vapid content within culturally acceptable stereotypes.
9
What one
finds is an attempt to create spaces for women by women, but that still embrace the
notion of an essential femininity, with no regard to its cultural or essential origins. This
phenomenon is occurring in an environment in which capturing the largest audience is
paramount to understanding the nature and meaning of signs and signifiers in a post-
structuralist manner. Lisbet van Zoonen articulated that “feminist media struggle with


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