Feb 15, 2013

Gender, sexuality and cybersecurity: an online tale

An online rights movement that rejects women turns its back on feminism's rich tradition of resistance to social control. So what's going on?

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

“That spirit of performativity you have about your citizenship, now? That sense that someone’s peering over your shoulder, watching everything you do and say and think and choose? That feeling of being observed? It’s not a new facet of life in the twenty-first century. It’s what it feels like for a girl.” — Madeline Ashby

The remorseless growth of surveillance has long attracted analysis of its gender dimension, both for its innate characteristics and the extent to which, as a mechanism of social control, it reflects the interests of those in control. CCTV unquestionably offers a “male gaze” — the male-dominated security industry and law enforcement sectors constantly monitoring spaces such as shopping precincts and public transport more likely to be used by women, to say nothing of the use of CCTV for voyeuristic purposes. A 1990s British study found women were far more likely to be targeted by CCTV operators for voyeuristic than protective purposes; there are countless instances of male operators using body scanners for voyeurism.

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9 thoughts on “Gender, sexuality and cybersecurity: an online tale

  1. GF50

    Bernard, cheers and hugs, well written little dissertation.
    I have always been of the belief that “feminist” issues are much broader than female, that the argument on women’s rights has done much more than any other fight for ALL human rights, equality/liberty/democracy.
    What is disappointing to a latte sipping leftie of the 70’s is that such blatant sexism/discrimination is so entrenched into 2013 cyberspace. Online to a comment I suspect that a lot?? do not “gender” themselves because, having tried both ways myself if you identify as female the response is the classic sexist crap attack to devalue the validity of the comment, post the same as identified as male and the response is very different. Anyone can try this. I am very pleased to report that this, IMHO, not the case on Crikey.
    Equality issues are definitely not won yet! and our democracy is under threat, while that debate is minimised by sophistry and lies of LOTO/MSM. The same old ? if you have to ask “does my look too big in this?” then you have answered your own question, and anyone who can read, and hear knows that at the highest level, PM of Australia, is minimised, trivialised and slagged purely on the basis the PM is a woman

  2. Buddy

    And if this is what it takes “But another way of viewing it is the exposure of a traditionally privileged and powerful group within society to the sort of scrutiny to which many other, less powerful groups, and particularly women, have always been exposed to, the targeting of one section of the traditional ruling elite with the sort of social control to which others have always been exposed.” Then I say great. But isn’t it a shame that the ruling patriarchy have to have there freedom and privacy restricted before they start to call foul… I too use an online name that does not automatically define my sex so specifically in order to have my contribution heard and not dismissed. Feminism benefits all..

  3. Christopher Nagle

    Look, this is just an argument to get more women into CCTV surveillance. On balance, I think they would be better observers, if for no other reason than that they can do more than one thing at a time, i.e., ogle men and check what is going on.

    But I jest, for female sexual response is much more diverse and complex than that of men. But given that women carry almost 100% of the human reproductive suite, it is hardly surprising that they cop most of the ogling.

    Stop feeling so guilty Bernard. You were designed to ogle a woman’s reproductive virtues. Get over it. You are a connaiseur like every other man. Just make sure you are sufficiently a fully mature adult that you can be trusted to behave appropriately in all the circumstances.

    And in the case of CCTV, do what women do, which is more than one thing at a time. Manage that, and you will have crowds of them chasing you down the street on CCTV, screaming at the tops of their lungs….”He’s mine….

  4. Phantom

    Seems to me. Possibly the most “Privileged and powerful” group in western democracies are the feminists and women in general.
    The gender employment imbalance or disparity is highly favoring females in many professions eg. Primary school teachers 85% female. There is an imbalance favoring females in secondary schools also. Banks, hospitals, Telstra and other communications, media outlets this imbalance is obvious. Education bodies, universities etc have gender disparity favoring females. A worrying factor is that educational bodies and their agents. Are organizing programs to favor addressing supposed or real lower [than males] academic performance areas, to help females. Like Programs in areas such as language, including reading, writing, spelling etc are non existent for male students.
    The lack of male role models in Western Democracies, due to marriage and relationship break ups, single mother epidemic
    and simply no male adult in these households. Is acknowledged as a major problem in our nations today. Negative results abound, suicide, crime and inability to actually be a boy or man in the true male sense are a few. Yet, universities, schools, educators, politicians etc are ignoring this growing, trumpeting elephant in the room.

  5. Tom Jones

    Hi Phantom, I sense you have a few issues because you have failed to engage with the issues raised in any meaningful way. A good article but it is just sad for you that you prove all of the points raised. I notice that you see where women have a majority in the low paid occupations you mention but aren’t concerned about the majority of males in high paying positions.
    The security industry is one where women have an advantage in being able to calm situations and yet men are hired because of their brawn and ability to jump on people and there is a lot of bullying of the women because their skills are not valued.
    Watching CCTV cameras doesn’t require brute force however but the firms doing the hiring would have to change their female unfriendly cultures which would probably mean that better detection would occur.

  6. Venise Alstergren

    As long as Stephen Fry can come out with the astonishing comment that women are clearly undersexed because you don’t find them in ladies lavatories trying to pick up rough trade; (OWTTE) so long will women have to fight to be somewhere near parity with the male of the species.

    Cyberspace resembles planet earth in that there’s a whole other world to convince that the female reproductive system and mental intelligence can/cannot be mutually exclusive.

  7. Phantom

    Venise Alstergren…Stephen Fry: a man with an over impressed view of himself. I wouldn’t [+ don’t] watch or listen to him period! He gives blokes a bad name!

  8. Venise Alstergren

    PHANTOM: Could not agree more. Cheers V

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