Visions of the Future: Revisiting Cyberfeminism, Reframing Anonymity


July 31, 2023

Key words

anonymity, cyberfeminism, surveillance, glitch feminism

This essay was written in 2023 during the Media Studies research master's programme at The University of Amsterdam.


As India introduces strict data laws in the name of national security and UK members of parliament call for the end of online anonymity entirely, recent media discourse surrounding online policy decisions has placed anonymity at the centre of a moral and ethical debate. The rise of abusive online groups such as the alt-right has dominated public discussion surrounding anonymity in recent years, some say to the point of stigmatising it and foreclosing its positive potential. In the 1990s, early cyberfeminist texts harboured a more hopeful perspective on anonymity afforded by the internet, advocating for its significance to marginalised groups in particular. This paper asks: How can Cyberfeminism play a role in reframing anonymity today? In order to answer this question, after reviewing current policy debates surrounding anonymity, this paper returns to founding cyberfeminist texts such as Donna Haraway's A Cyborg Manifesto to outline key concepts and discuss their later development and relevance. It then uses a case study of virtual reality raves, taking place on online virtual world platform VRChat, as an entryway into thinking about the cultural significance and value of anonymity in a specific contemporary social context. Ultimately, this paper attempts to provide a novel framework for countering stigmatising media discourse surrounding anonymity online.

© 2024 Amie Galbraith