Digital Rights are
Women*s Rights

In honour of International Women’s Day 2021, DFF presents a mini-series to highlight the importance of intersectional feminism for digital rights. This collection of blogs, contributed by guest authors from our network, illustrates why we must embrace intersectional perspectives if we want to defend the digital rights of all. You can read the full series here.

Why we need feminist technology

Feminist infrastructure is a vast ecosystem: it is what supports, sustainably, the advancement of feminist struggles.

The ways in which we develop and use information and communication technologies are irretrievably shaped by the weight of patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism. Feminist theories of technology expose the sexism and androcentrism that pervade technological production and consumption, and challenge ethnocentric, Westernised, and universalising perspectives of technologies. 

The fantasy that technology is typically created by white men in basements, laboratories, or military bunkers, for instance, has only been sustained by the erasure of the contributions of women and non-binary, LGBTIQ+, and BPOC individuals and communities. 

Technological companies further exploit women as the main source of cheap and slave labour in all sectors, encompassing material extraction, device recycling, quality control, consumer service, and software development. 

Feminist theories of technology also imagine technologies that do not (yet) exist, and that would be desirable and liberating. They are engaged in writing diverse code to reflect different bodies and minds, and transforming developer-user dynamics to return autonomy to those who inhabit these technologies. They are invested in creating friendly ways of managing our information, communication and memory-related needs. 

Feminist theories of technology ask: What makes technology liberating and feminist, and for whom, and under what circumstances? What are possible socially and ecologically sustainable models for these technologies? And how do we develop collaborative and distributed approaches to the management of these spaces of resistance and transformation?

From servers to artificial intelligence to radio broadcasting to fanzines, feminist theories and technologies redistribute global media and the internet. They break up patriarchal big tech monopolies that enable surveillance capitalism and fuel gender-based violence. They allow us to regain control and autonomy over our narratives and collective memories. 

In understanding that technology is both a source and consequence of gender relations, we allow ourselves to reclaim and recreate the feminist technologies essential to the advancement of gender and social justice.

By Alexandra Hache, Project Officer at Digital Defenders.