Freitag, 21. Juni 2024

Big Tech Feminism

Presentation by Brenda Dvoskin - Hybrid Event

Strange as it may seem, Big Tech has become feminist. Meta has a team devoted to women’s safety. Venmo monitors its app for gender-based discrimination. Bumble aspires to make misogyny illegal. And it’s not just talk: Big Tech is putting its money where its mouth is, devoting significant time and resources to achieving a feminist agenda. This talk interrogates the emergence of Big Tech feminism, sounding alarms about its tendencies and implications before offering a competing path. In particular, we confront a phenomenon we call “safety creep,” whereby a network of feminists, tech companies, and lawmakers repurpose valid feminist concerns about sex harms to expansively control online sexual activity, including harmless sex acts with great emancipatory potential. Safety creep empowers companies and lawmakers to push ostensibly feminist projects that would, in fact, undermine competing values of protecting pleasure, enhancing freedom, and disempowering discourses that produce unnecessary harm. In response, this talk advances a competing feminist agenda. At a time when safety has become the dominant framework for platform governance and legislation, we argue that safety is best served by cultivating autonomy and more egalitarian power distributions to set the norms of sexual encounters, instead of the punitive and prudish approaches that Big Tech currently embraces.

Brenda Dvoskin is a postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown Law and an incoming Associate Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work at the intersection of law, technology, and sexuality appears in the Fordham Law Review, Washington Law Review, Harvard International Law Journal, among other venues. She holds an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School.


The event is part of the Seminar Series “Platform Politics and Policy”.

Researchers from outside the WZB who would like to attend may email the organizer, robert.gorwa [at], to be put onto the seminar series mailing list.