Payal is a digital anthropologist, a TEDx speaker, and an award-winning author of several books, including ‘The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West”. She is also a Professor at Erasmus University in The Netherlands.
What can be done?
A healthier internet is a feminist internet. We should all be concerned that half the world’s population continues to live in deeply patriarchal societies, especially in the Global South where the socio-cultural norms and legal institutions have relegated women to secondary status that play out in everyday terms — from the normalization of gender harassment online to the imbalanced and limited representation of women on sites such as Wikipedia.
It’s about time we change the rules of the internet game. We need structural, long term strategies. Short term solutions like “locked profiles” by Facebook and Twitter, meant to “protect” women, are not much more than a Band-Aid measure. They’re the equivalent to the domestication of women behind closed doors, reinforcing the message that the online public space is not safe for them.
One couple’s viral dance videos from China show a refreshing alternative to the usual poverty tropes about rural and marginalized populations, showing creativity, humor, and optimism instead.