Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
eGirls, eCitizens

eGirls, eCitizens: Putting Technology, Theory and Policy into Dialogue with Girls’ and Young Women’s Voices

Jane Bailey
Valerie Steeves
Copyright Date: 2015
  • Book Info
    eGirls, eCitizens
    Book Description:

    eGirls, eCitizensis a landmark work that explores the many forces that shape girls' and young women's experiences of privacy, identity, and equality in our digitally networked society. Drawing on the multi-disciplinary expertise of a remarkable team of leading Canadian and international scholars, as well as Canada's foremost digital literacy organization, MediaSmarts, this collection presents the complex realities of digitized communications for girls and young women as revealed through the findings of The eGirls Project ( and other important research initiatives.

    Aimed at moving dialogues on scholarship and policy around girls and technology away from established binaries of good vs bad, or risk vs opportunity, these seminal contributions explore the interplay of factors that shape online environments characterized by a gendered gaze and too often punctuated by sexualized violence.

    Perhaps most importantly, this collection offers first-hand perspectives collected from girls and young women themselves, providing a unique window on what it is to be a girl in today's digitized society.

    eISBN: 978-0-7766-2259-0
    Subjects: Technology, Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Cyber-Utopia? Getting beyond the Binary Notion of Technology as Good or Bad for Girls
    (pp. 1-18)
    Jane Bailey and Valerie Steeves

    This volume is the culmination of a labour of love more formally known as The eGirls Project, a three-year research initiative funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) partnership development grant that began in 2011. We hope, however, that this ending is also a beginning; an invitation to future research, education and policy initiatives, and grassroots activism aimed at ensuring substantively equal opportunities for girls and young women to participate in our digitally networked society.

    Together we co-led an interdisciplinary, intersectoral, interna tional eGirls Project team investigation of the relationship between gender, privacy, and equality in online...

  5. Part I: It’s Not That Simple:: Complicating Girls’ Experiences on Social Media

    • CHAPTER I A Perfect Storm: How the Online Environment, Social Norms, and Law Shape Girls’ Lives
      (pp. 21-54)
      Jane Bailey

      It is all too easy for members of dominant social groups to assume that their way of knowing the world reflects both the way the world is and the way others see and experience it. Factors like economic status, sex, race, ability, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity centre the experiences of the privileged as objective reality, while marginalizing the experiences of non-dominant groups as if they were subjective exceptions. As Grillo and Wildman put it:

      Members of dominant groups assume that their perceptions are the pertinent perceptions, that their problems are the problems that need to be addressed, and...

    • CHAPTER II Revisiting Cyberfeminism: Theory as a Tool for Understanding Young Women’s Experiences
      (pp. 55-82)
      Trevor Scott Milford

      Early cyberfeminists conceptualized cyberspaces as fundamen tally liberating, theorizing their capacity to move beyond the traditional binaries and limitations of popular gender and feminist politics. Human-machine mergers made possible by technology were imagined as facilitators of “post-gender worlds”:¹ and virtual spaces were initially envisioned as utopian sites of unrestricted, transcen dent emancipation from gender-related constraints.² Cyberspaces showed promise to disrupt conventional patriarchal hierarchies, colonial power interests, and militarized, commercialized technolo gies of advanced capitalism,³ representing a “brave new world.” In this brave new world, the hierarchical and subjugating logic underscoring social binaries and privileging male over female, hetero-over homosexual, Caucasian...

    • CHAPTER III Thinking beyond the Internet as a Tool: Girls’ Online Spaces as Postfeminist Structures of Surveillance
      (pp. 83-106)
      Akane Kanai

      Mary Celeste Kearney argues that girls’ media studies scholar ship, as part of its feminist underpinnings, understands girls to be “powerful agential beings.”¹ Accordingly, it can be observed that within scholarship, internet technologies like social network sites (SNS) and blogs are optimistically constructed as a potential instrument by which girls control their identity² or a kind of terri tory that girls can claim as their own.³ However, I suggest that this construction of “empowered girls” and its corollary of the internet as instrument to be wielded, can be productively called into ques tion through further attention to the structures of...

  6. Part II: Living in a Gendered Gaze

    • CHAPTER IV The Internet and Friendship Seeking: Exploring the Role of Online Communication in Young, Recently Immigrated Women’s Social Lives
      (pp. 109-128)
      Assumpta Ndengeyingoma

      Friendship seeking and relationship seeking are part of the devel opmental tasks that accompany adolescence. Several studies show the importance of these relationships for social and personal development.¹ The continuity of these relationships can be complex: friendships, dyads, or groups can develop from childhood, some of which can later become confidant relationships. Within the context of immigration, youth can become physically separated from their once-close friends. This can prevent friendship relationships from developing into confidant relationships, as these relationships are typically consolidated by physical presence.

      The sociocultural contexts in schools in an immigrant child’s host country offer the opportunity to...

    • CHAPTER V “She’s Just a Small Town Girl, Living in an Online World”: Differences and Similarities between Urban and Rural Girls’ Use of and Views about Online Social Networking
      (pp. 129-152)
      Jacquelyn Burkell and Madelaine Saginur

      This chapter examines the online social media experiences of girls (aged 15 to 17) and young women (aged 18 to 22) from rural and urban environments, focusing on the contrast between “small town” and “big city” participants in online social networks. Reasoning from a long history of social scientific research and thought, we anticipate that rural and urban girls and young women will report different experiences with online social media. We explore this possibility through a series of interviews and focus groups conducted with girls and young women residing in two communities (one small, one large) in southeastern Ontario, Canada....

    • CHAPTER VI “Pretty and Just a Little Bit Sexy, I Guess”: Publicity, Privacy, and the Pressure to Perform “Appropriate” Femininity on Social Media
      (pp. 153-174)
      Valerie Steeves

      When McRobbie and Garber first coined the term “bedroom culture” in 1976, they were attempting to create a theoretical framework to explore girls’ resistance to restrictive cultural tropes around gender.¹ Subculture studies of the time largely ignored girls, and instead focused on the ways that boys resignified public spaces for their own cultural purposes. As a corrective, McRobbie and Garber located girls’ cultural practices in the private space of the bedroom, and argued that girls were free there to pursue their cultural goals by reading magazines, talking to each other on the phone, trying on clothes, listening to music, and...

    • CHAPTER VII Girls and Online Drama: Aggression, Surveillance, or Entertainment?
      (pp. 175-198)
      Priscilla M. Regan and Diana L. Sweet

      Drama as a concept is difficult to define. For most scholars and individuals, it generally includes some heightened emotional behaviour or words, some aggressive “lashing out” or attempt to involve others in what is occurring, and some connection to or interpretation of everyday events or words. Drama may include “spreading rumors, social exclusion, and threats of withdrawal of acceptance and love.”¹ Drama is often used, especially for young people, as shorthand for what they regard as indirect, relational, and social aggression. According to Coyne et al, relational aggression can best be understood as the behaviour of individuals that intentionally hurts...

    • CHAPTER VIII BBM Is Like Social Networking and the Digital Mediation of Teens’ Sexual Cultures
      (pp. 199-226)
      Jessica Ringrose and Laura Harvey

      Mobile digital technologies cannot be treated like some addi tional feature in young people’s lives. The mobile phone is often more like a limb, rather than a separate object from the posthu man cyborg body.¹ These technologies are “actants” that dramatically re-shape the agentic possibilities of relating between (post) humans.² They are radically transforming “cultures of connectivity” with temporal and material effects.³ Consider, for instance, how these 15-year-old girls discuss the mobile phone in their daily rhythms:

      Interviewer: So how much are you using your [mobile] phone do you think in an average day?

      Monique: Like all the time.


  7. Part III: Dealing with Sexualized Violence

    • CHAPTER IX Rape Threats and Revenge Porn: Defining Sexual Violence in the Digital Age
      (pp. 229-252)
      Jordan Fairbairn

      Just ignore the trolls. Don’t share personal information. Go offline.These mantras pervade discussions of digital communication and the abuse and harassment that occur online. Although often well mean ing, these statements contain problematic assumptions about whose responsibility it is to prevent harassment and how seriously we take certain forms of abuse. These statements also contain insights into how we relate the online interactions to the physical world, or what is often referred to as “in real life.” However, this is changing. Like sexual harassment and domestic violence in previous decades, advocates and activists are rejecting the notion that online...

    • CHAPTER X Motion to Dismiss: Bias Crime, Online Communication, and the Sex Lives of Others in NJ v. Ravi
      (pp. 253-280)
      Andrea Slane

      In 2010, first-year Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi surrepti tiously used his webcam to observe his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having a sexual encounter with another man in the dorm room they shared. Criminal charges laid against Ravi included four counts of invasion of privacy, each enhanced by bias intimidation on the basis of Clementi’s sexual orientation.¹ He denied all charges and refused a plea deal, publicly insisting that he did not harbour any prejudice against gay people.² As the case proceeded to court, the defence filed a series of motions attempting to have the case dismissed, arguing that the evidence...

    • CHAPTER XI Defining the Legal Lines: eGirls and Intimate Images
      (pp. 281-306)
      Shaheen Shariff and Ashley DeMartini

      The objective of this chapter is to address the nuanced complexi ties relating to sexting in the context of sexualized cyberbullying among youth, and related legal and educational dilemmas in public policy. We focus on key societal and legal issues to address why recent legislative proposals and legal responses to sexualized cyber bullying are misguided. To provide the context behind the legalities, we first highlight the scholarly discourse around the dynamics of rape culture to draw attention to the fact that sexting, and the non consensual distribution of intimate images among youth, is not a new online phenomenon created by...

    • CHAPTER XII “She’s Such a Slut!”: The Sexualized Cyberbullying of Teen Girls and the Education Law Response
      (pp. 307-336)
      Gillian Angrove

      On 27 September 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada releasedA.B.v. Bragg Communications Inc.,¹ in which a teenage girl “sought to unmask her cyberbullies”² in order to pursue a defama tion action, while still protecting her own anonymity. In 2010, A.B. discovered that someone had created a fake Facebook profile using her picture, a slightly modified version of her name, and other identifying particulars.³ In addition to the photo, the creator of the profile had included “unflattering commentary about the girl’s appearance along with sexually explicit references.”⁴

      At issue in the case was a balance between the freedom of the...

  8. Part IV: eGirls, eCitizens

    • CHAPTER XIII Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship: Approaches to Girls’ Online Experiences
      (pp. 339-360)
      Matthew Johnson

      Often efforts to educate young people about digital technology have focused primarily on teaching them to protect themselves online. This focus on “online safety” has been tremendously influen tial for a number of reasons: first, many educational programs have been provided by or developed in collaboration with law enforce ment agencies;¹ second, the content of these programs has accorded with a perception, largely a result of media reporting, that digital environments are particularly risky compared to offline spaces;² third, a cultural tendency towards “juvenoia”—a term coined by David Finkelhor of the Crimes Against Children Research Center to describe “an...

    • CHAPTER XIV Security and Insecurity Online: Perspectives from Girls and Young Women
      (pp. 361-384)
      Sarah Heath

      Participation in the online world is often contingent on one’s ability to disclose and share personal information about one self.¹ Such disclosure can have positive implications. Critical scholars have noted that disclosure can deepen existing relationships, allow participants to express themselves, experiment with their identities, and seek authienticity, as well as validate themselves to others.² Governing discourses often draw attention to the negative consequences of this disclosure.³ In particular, it has been noted that users may inadvertently experience a loss of privacy as a result of participating in online social networks, which may lead to the use of one’s personal...

    • CHAPTER XV Transformative Works: Young Women’s Voices on Fandom and Fair Use
      (pp. 385-410)
      Betsy Rosenblatt and Rebecca Tushnet

      Media fandom is a worldwide cross-cultural phenomenon. Although fandom as a concept has far-reaching and diverse historical roots, this chapter focuses on a particular variety of media fandom that includes as a significant focus the creation of “fanworks,” new creative works based on existing media. These works include fanfiction, fanart, and “vids,” which are montages of images from media sources, often set to music, that tell a story or highlight particular themes or characters. Outside media fandom, fanworks are often lumped in with other forms of remix culture because they mix elements of existing media, such as characters, settings, or...

    • CHAPTER XVI I Want My Internet! Young Women on the Politics of Usage-Based Billing
      (pp. 411-434)
      Leslie Regan Shade

      Based on the bouncy song, “Stop” by the popular mid-1990s girl-power band The Spice Girls, the Site Girls’ music video rendition remixes the Motown-influenced song and catchy chorus to argue for the curtailing of usage-based billing by internet service providers. The four campily dressed Site Girls (two men, two women) vamp and sing in a university library amongst rows of books and computer terminals. One of the Site Girls is a stern Mr. CRTC, who warns the other Girls to

      Slow it down, read the sign, we’re going to make you pay for your time online.

      Got to keep it...

  9. Conclusion: Looking Forward
    (pp. 435-438)
    Jane Bailey and Valerie Steeves

    eGirls, eCitizensreveals the complexity and nuances of girls’ and young women’s networked lives. Not only does it challenge early euphoric predictions that networked communications platforms would facilitate the overthrow of patriarchy, it also calls into question more recent dystopian policy rhetoric premised on various carica tures of girls as hapless victims whose greatest challenge is stranger danger. Indeed, as Part III of the book demonstrates, many girls and young women have strategies for addressing their own perceptions of online risk, and are eager to access tools that facilitate and enhance their online participation in cultural production, self-exploration, and political...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 439-494)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 495-502)
  12. Index
    (pp. 503-507)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 508-508)