Love for feminist media conferences

In keeping with this semester’s theme of “conferencing all the time” I’ve got one final conference related post. Last week I attended the annual Console-ing Passions Feminist Media Conference in Columbia, MO. This was my third time attending this conference, but my first time since 2010. It was everything I remembered and more. I absolutely LOVE everything about it.

Here’s a Wordle from the notes I took while I was there. The presentations, keynote, and plenary were all so aware of issues near and dear to my work – girls, labor, privacy, risk, education, literacy, feminist methodologies, communities, etc. In addition to great scholarship, the community is so supportive of one another and our larger shared goals. It’s so refreshing to be around such innovative and supportive women (and men).

I presented a chapter from my dissertation (that I’m now turning into a book chapter) regarding federal policies that (attempt to) regulate young people’s use of the internet. I argue that many of the policies intended to protect young people actually exacerbate inequalities and fail to consider other harms and risks. Additionally, concerns related to porn, bullies, and predators tend to overlook other risks and harms such as behavioral targeting, ubiquitous surveillance, and the commercialization of social practices. The slides can be viewed here.

For me, the highlight of the entire conference was Sarah Banet-Weiser‘s keynote address. She beautifully articulated the problems of a post-feminist commodity culture branded as empowerment. She argued the ways in which girls are encouraged to “be confident” (via consumption) obfuscate patriarchal systems that lead them to feel not confident in the first place. In other words, programs focus on the individual girl, but rarely (if ever) question larger societal issues and structures that disempower women (in the name of “protection”). Her work has become largely influential in my own work on surveillance and identity within a network society and I am so glad I got to hear her speak at  CP this year.

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