We focused on case studies of misogyny this week probably because those studies are easy to find. There are, however, other forms of systemic oppression in the world, such as racism and transphobia, and the internet, as part of that world, reflects them.
The internet is an extension of our human experience. It is a media form. The medium is, as we well know by now, the message (McLuahn, 1967). The message in this context is not women suck, but rather that the people with power are to maintain that power. This system includes misogyny or patriarchy, which have in common their social structure, which is a kyriarchy.
A kyriarchy is a a societal structure that is defined by a lord-servant relationship (Fiorenza, 2009); it is the outlook that says there is in every situation, a ‘lord’ position.
Do you remember Chris Moore’s idea of viral freedom? Kyriarchy is the opposite to that: it is the virus of oppression. It is a power structure that demands the persistence of itself as a power structure. Kyriarchy propogates itself in even the smallest of ideas, ideas we even tell children: life’s not fair. Kyriarchy is in our very language.
What do we do about it?
It’s not easy to undo these structures, especially since we live in this world they define. But remember that every social structure, every piece of media that you’re around, is a piece of media created in that kyriarchic structure. A policy that claims to be fair can often just reflect the existant societal biases and barriers, just like, say, Wikipedia.
If you’re interested in seeing some examples of how our language helps us create these power structures, with the idea of winners and losers, of competitive power and ultimately, hurting one another, check out this videos on an alternative method of thinking about communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
For further reading:
Rosenberg, Marshall B. Nonviolent communication: A language of life: Create your life, your relationships, and your world in harmony with your values. PuddleDancer Press, 2003.
Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schüssler. Democratizing biblical studies: Toward an emancipatory educational space. Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.
McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore. “The medium is the message.” New York 123 (1967): 126-128.