Kyriarchy

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.


References

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.

Young People, These Days

“The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.”
Kosh Nanarek, Babylon 5

Clicktivism is a – hang on, let’s get this out of the way.

Clicktivism is awful (Karpf, 2010) and Clicktivism is great (Andresen, 2011),

Complicated, interconnected systems of other interconnected systems aren’t simple soundbytes. You want those, there’s your two basic perspectives on it and you can fight about it amongst yourselves or use it as fodder for your PhD in soc, or maybe watch a TED Talk, because those have the answer for everything.

The important thing is, if you want to view this topic in a simple, hyperbolic way, there’s plenty of academic sources available for you to use. If you want to hear about the Arab Spring or the failure of Kony 2012 or the creepiness of the Fifth Estate, plenty of other people will be covering that.

As I was saying – clicktivism is a recent phenomenon evolving out of the slacktivism of the 1990s. Slacktivism was a term invented to refer to the behaviours of the young people of the day who were making small, personal changes, rather than large, proteset rallies that were seen as more effective. People who remembered the Civil Rights movement and glorified a history that they hadn’t participated in were quick to dismiss the actions of people who had committed the dreadful sin of being young.

All forms of activism are attempts to influence a societal idea which has momentum. Sometimes that activism is small and personal, and sometimes it’s big and loud. The hypothetical, however, is that small, individual changes can influence other small individuals to change, and they can others and so on, creating an information cascade. What clicktivism creates is an avenue to amplify that influence, to start a cascade.

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Information cascades are real things. They can be used for good, or for bad, and you can be part of them, even in fields like gaming (Chapin, 2006). Understanding them, and understanding why they matter is an important part of living an engaged life in this modern context.


 

References

Andresen, Katya. “Why Slacktivism Is Underrated.” Mashable. N.p., 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 08 May 2014. <http://mashable.com/2011/10/24/slactivism-cause-engagement/>.

Chapin, Patrick. “Information Cascades in Magic.” StarCityGames.com, 28 June 2006. Web. 08 May 2014. <http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/fundamentals/12201_Information_Cascades_in_Magic.html>.

Karpf, D. (2010), Online Political Mobilization from the Advocacy Group’s Perspective: Looking Beyond Clicktivism. Policy & Internet, 2: 7–41. doi: 10.2202/1944-2866.1098

 

Rereremix

If you haven’t watched the Everything Is A Remix videos yet, you should, but I think the work commits an accidental error by focusing its lens on creativity in the last half of the 20th century. I felt this could leave people with the impression that remix culture is a new thing. So hold on tight as we indulge in Remixception.

This is an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, a TV show that took old movies with cheap licensing and low quality, and made fun of them by overlaying silhouettes of a movie theatre. The task of selecting movies was a real challenge (Vigeant, 2012) – and in this case, the movie is an English Dub of a German movie performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Saxo1Hamlet is a story heavily inspired by a number of other works, such as the story of Amleth presented in the Saxo Grammaticus (Ashliman, 2011). Amleth’s story has distinct differences – the slain king is unrighteous, there’s no ghost, the son had to grow up under his step father – but there are many of the same story beats and Denmark as a setting.

That’s not to say everything in Hamlet comes from Amleth, though. Shakespeare also borrowed from the Bible, with such allusions as The Readiness Is All, which refers to the Gospel of Matthew (Shaheen, 2011).

The-Lost-Gospel-Q-9781569751893The Bible is a massive work of remix, where three of the first four Gospels of the New Testament sample from Mark and from another, lost source, known to scholars as Q (Jacobson, 1992). The Q Gospel is so well referenced and cited we can reduce a fairly complete view of it – even though the text itself is lost!

From Public Access TV to German movies to British Theatre to Danish Literature to Biblical Criticism to invisible gospels – we have been remixing way longer than since the existence of the tape recorder and the computer.


References:

Ashliman, D. L. “Amleth, Prince of Denmark.” Amleth, Prince of Denmark. N.p., 1997. Web. 03 May 2014. <http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/amleth.html&gt;.

Jacobson, Arland Dean. The first gospel: an introduction to Q. Polebridge Pr Westar Inst, 1992.

Shaheen, Naseeb. Biblical references in Shakespeare’s plays. University of Delaware, 2011.

Vigeant, Benjamin. “The Highest of Low Standards: How ‘MST3K’ Picked Movies to Mock.” Splitsider. N.p., 31 Oct. 2012. Web. 03 May 2014. <http://splitsider.com/2012/10/the-highest-of-low-standards-how-mst3k-picked-movies-to-mock/&gt;.