2017 #SMSociety Theme: Social Media for Social Good or Evil

Our online behaviour is far from virtual–it extends our offline lives. Much social media research has identified the positive opportunities of using social media; for example, how people use social media to form support groups online, participate in political uprising, raise money for charities, extend teaching and learning outside the classroom, etc. However, mirroring offline experiences, we have also seen social media being used to spread propaganda and misinformation, recruit terrorists, live stream criminal activities, reinforce echo chambers by politicians, and perpetuate hate and oppression (such as racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic behaviour).

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Sunday, July 30 • 14:00 - 15:00
Panel 5C: Good Girls / Bad Girls: Examining The Gender And Sexual Politics Of Socially Mediated Bodies

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Panel Speakers: Katie Warfield, Lianna Pisani, Mylynn Felt and Stefanie Duguay

Abstract: Following the theme of the Social Media & Society Conference, a focus on the good and bad asks researchers to move beyond debating ontological debates and address how ethics figures into a given ontology on the object of inquiry. This panel takes as its focus female and female identifying bodies, identities, and subjectivities represented, presented, and embodied on social media. Instead of asking “what the socially mediated ‘woman’ is”, this panel pushes inquiry further to demand what the implications of our theoretical frameworks have on theorizing gender on social media? What happens when we say a “woman” online is this or that? What happens to real lived bodies when we declare what is a good girl or a bad girl? 

We further add to our discussions a foundational starting point of intersectionality so that the concept of “woman” is neither generalized, made invisible, nor taken for granted. It is for this reason that we use quotes around the term “woman” to emphasize its fundamentally constructed nature while also not diminishing its affective reality and political importance. Womanhood is intersectionally situated, diverse, and inclusive of any person who identifies as female. We foreground the importance of gender, race, sexuality, class, and ability in discussions of the good girls and bad girls on social media to recognise that “being a woman online” is complicated, layered, situated and changing. Aligning with the conference’s focus on the good and bad, this panel asks how the good and bad become complicated within multilayered power dynamics that privilege certain bodies, subjectivities, and identities over others. 

And so this panel looks at the theme of good and bad in research on female-identifying intersectionally diverse and socially mediated bodies, identities, and subjectivities. Stef Duguay examines the process of claiming digitally authentic displays of sexuality on Tinder for same-sex attracted women and how these women use refined strategies for detecting fake profiles which would result in “bad” dates. Via the case study of Amazon Wishlists, Lianna Pisani discusses how the genre of the “political feminist selfie” presents a salient case study of the selfie’s function as an effective medium for performing the body as representation in order to challenge the female body as a site of oppression. Katie Warfield challenges narrative linearity, singularity, and simplicity using feminist new materialism and post-phenomenology to narrate the multi-layered and materially and discursively entangled stories of Courtney Demone a woman and trans* activist who used Youtube, Instagram, Mashable, and Reddit to come out and perform a political campaign called “Do I have boobs now?” Mylynn Felt presents on the “solidarity selfie” as a genre through analyses of images shared during the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.  

This panel is situated at the evolving intersections of theorizing the socially mediated body. Beginning with the special issue for the International Journal of Communication edited by Nancy Baym and Theresa Senft, followed by a special issue of Social Media & Society edited by Katie Warfield, Carolina Cambre and Crystal Abidin, and a follow up panel on the socially mediated body at AoIR16 in Berlin, this panel will move discussions from theoretical frameworks towards action plans with an eye to ethics. The papers from the panel will be pitched as a special issue (Journal TBD) to show the genealogical shift of discussions while highlighting current empirical work in the field on the topic. 

Sunday July 30, 2017 14:00 - 15:00 EDT
TRS 1-147 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C9