Julian Dibbell speaks to us about how the online realm shouldn't be law-free. In the case mentioned in our class discussion over the NYU student for example, it is clear (at least to me) that it was full-blown harrassment. True it may have started on the online realm, but once the problem reaches through your internet into the "real" world things start to get messy.
Reading Response 9
I thought our discussion on "A Rap in Cyberspace," divided the class into two camps. One side, the student an NYU is innocent, or the other it was in fact rape. I think those who say he was innocent, miss the point that had he sent a letter of made a phone call with such graphic comments it would have been considered harassment, and punishable under law, and those who view it as a rape and punishable as such, including the author, Julian Dibbell, are making a gross overstep when assessing the situation.
Both Dibbell's "A Rape in Cyberspace" and Turkle's Who Am We?" deal with the composition of identity in the cyber world. Finding gray areas and transgressions between VR (virtual reality) and RL (real life) appears to be their specialty. Understanding the significance of cyber spaces, societies, and relationships blurs the common separation between the real and the virtual, the body and the mind. Central to this reconstituted person is "thinking about the self as a multiple, distributed system-- a decentered self that exists in many worlds" (Turkle, 237).
In her piece 'Women and Children First' Laura Miller discusses the reasons for which considering digital media a new frontier represents gender on the internet incorrectly. Frontier evokes images of strong males exploring an unknown territory accompanied by the weaker, dependent, women and children. True, the demographics show that the internet population is dominated by males but our definition of male and female as it applies to the physical world is very much broken down, according to Miller.
The discussion we had on the 'Women and Children first' article really allowed me to understand many societal issues that I was previously oblivious to. In Jamaica feminism and gender issues are not as prevalent as in the States mainly because there are hardly any feminists or women fighting out against male dominance. Gender issues are not as big of a concern mainly because there are so many bigger national issues that we have to fight such as poverty-affecting all, that concerns like these are easily overlooked(our last Prime Minister was female).
I am torn about what to think about last week's reading. The readings by Julian Dibbell and Sherry Turkle address the issue of reality in a virtual world. It is so easy to take on a new persona and enter a chat room or as a player in a MUD. This sounds innocent enough, however, it can get out of hand and wreak havoc among the participants. The issue here is the fact that, even though it is only a game or a chat room, for many, the line between reality and virtual reality can become blurred.
I feel that the issue with rape online, the ordeal with the student from NYU and online chat room visual reality is all very complex. In class I did point out that I felt that the woman was definitely violated. While I do strongly believe this I do also think that whole situation was messed up on way too many levels. Dibbell not only exposed the reality of violation online but also the personal community that people seek either for purposes of social interaction, virtual sex or a place where anybody can be free to act as they would like obviously within reason.
In the readings from last week, I found myself asking why too often. It wasn't till the end of Turkle's essay "Who Am We?" that I began to see an answer, even it is a hazy one. To summarize, Turkle claims that we analyze ourselves so that we may improve our families and society, yet analysis of our actions on the internet is difficult and hard to derive conclusions from. Turkle mostly presents questions as apposed to answering them, but it seems that sometimes she is presenting a side she favors.
In Julian Dibbell's A Rape In Cyberspace, he tells the story of an attack on certain characters within a virtual world. The attack he describes is not a physical one, but one contained fully within a textual world online. Dibbell talks through the evolution of the fiasco and eventually reaches the conclusion that what had transpired was rape. Dibbell reasons this because he believes that "rape can occur without any physical pain or damage" and that rape "must be classified as a crime against the mind" (page 213).
In this weeks reading " Who Am We" Turkle brings up the idea of not assuming your own gender online when role playing.