a female-led www subculture ☘ in the upcoming evastars documentary, rachel simone weil considers the factors at play in the female-led co-creation of me/you/site culture in the united states:
What is special about webmistresses of the late 1990s and early 2000s? Of course, women had already been working in computing for decades prior. But if you narrow that focus to the at-home enthusiast coding not for work but for fun, the me/you/site webmistresses could be considered the first computer-programming subculture created by and predominantly for girls and young women. Much of this groundwork was set by the rapid spread of the internet-connected home computer in the 1990s, which became a centrally-located appliance for use by the whole family. This opened up new creative possibilities for girls, who had been less included in hobbyist computing and video game cultures of the 1980s.
The content and activities associated with me/you/sites has numerous connections to stereotypically feminine aesthetics and play patterns: dollhouses, diary keeping, collecting stuffed animals, jewelry making, embroidery, and the like. This created familiar aesthetic territory and a conceptual point of reference in the me/you/site subculture that strongly self-selected girls. Boys weren't intentionally excluded, they were simply more likely to have said, "Dolls? Strawberry Shortcake? I don't think so. This isn't for me."
Some historians have incorrectly chararcterized the me/you/site as a digital dollhouse. It's not. There's an important distinction here. Girls weren't playing with these pixel toys. They were reimagining them, recalling the playthings of their childhoods at a distance and armed with new creative tools. Webmistresses' pixels were nostalgic, edgy, comedic, cute, personal. And importantly, they reflected girls' nuanced and complex interests in a way that commercially-available counterparts rarely do.
webmistress, not webmaster ☘ it was common for creators of me/you/sites to employ atypically gendered words like "hostess" (to describe girls who offered web hosting) and "webmistress" (in place of the more widespread term "webmaster"). this play on words is representative of the tensions brought forward in 1990s-era girlie feminism: must girls eschew femininity in order to be taken seriously?
evastars and gender ☘ the pixels evastars produced in the early 2000s make no overt statements about gender but feature alternatingly loving and sarcastic takes on girls' media and toy franchises like hello kitty, barbie, and sailor moon.
a blog post written by eva provides one example of the duo addressing gender politics directly: commentary on president george w. bush's reelection campaign in 2004.
I heard on TV that our dignified president is reaching out to women voters with the Family Time Flexibility Act. Rep. Judy Biggert says, "For far too many women, inflexible work schedules prevent them from addressing family emergencies, attending teacher conferences, and dealing with the many family needs that arise unexpectedly throughout the course of a typical month or year. Family time will provide a powerful new tool to help working women balance the needs of their careers and families."
Oh goody. I guess women were never really "liberated" from the stay-at-home-take-care-of-the-house-and-kids role. Sure, we women can now be whatever we want to be, just so long as we have dinner on the table by 7:00pm. We're still expected to do all the maternal-work things we did before on top of work-work. Why doesn't Dad have to strike this balance? Because he doesn't concern himself with family affairs? Do you think Bush could get me a tax break for getting in the kitchen and making my man a sammich? WHAT YEAR IS IT? 2004?!!?! Just checking.
In other news from the Guardian: The Vatican has been doing some research, and they've decided that the "Inquisition wasn't that bad." Just so you know.
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~* reference (site) *~art style + influences
gender + the me/you/site
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