What happens to feminism in the digital age? With her course, Nursen Gömceli offers students an opportunity to get insights into how digitalization has changed feminist activity in the 21st century. Students are engaged to find out how digital tools can be used to change things for the better.
Can you share some details about your course “Focus on Culture: Feminism in the Digital Age: the Fourth Wave”? What exactly is it about?
This course is mainly about exploring what feminism in the digital age looks like and how the evolution of fourth-wave feminism has largely taken place through digital means so far. We have a wide range of topics for discussion, but to give a few examples here, I could mention hashtag feminism, where we look at the pros and cons of feminist activism on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram. We explore what constitutes an online feminist identity and discuss how the methods of feminist activism have changed in the fourth wave due to the internet and the use of digital technologies. Another topic we focus on is how the digital transformation also leads to inequalities between individuals that need to be part of the struggle for more equal opportunities. So, in short, the focus of the course is to explore how digitalization has shaped the feminist movement in the 21st century and created new forms of feminist activism.
What do you want your students to take away with them after attending your course?
First and foremost, I would like to thank all of my students for their interest and contribution to this course. With the discussions we have had in our classes, I hope that upon completion of this course, they will have developed a heightened awareness of today’s feminism as a concept that advocates for “equal opportunity for all” with an inclusive approach. Having discussed the role of intersectionality in today’s online and offline feminism, I also hope that our students have gained a comprehensive understanding of the importance of an intersectional mindset. By intersectional mindset, we mean the awareness that while the intersection or coexistence of different social identities can lead to multiple forms of discrimination, it can at the same time bring with it certain privileges that can be used to the advantage of those who are discriminated against for various reasons. I also hope that the students who participated in this course will develop further ideas about the various ways in which digital technologies can be used in assisting the less privileged in our societies.
Why is your course relevant today?
I think the course is most relevant to our times because it explores and demonstrates how digital tools, especially social media platforms used by millions of people across the globe, have led to the development of a new kind of feminism that is still in progress today. For example, while exploring what the concerns of feminism are today and discussing what the definition of feminism should be for the 21st century, my students learned how to engage in online feminist activism by making a video recording of their ideas on intersectionality and feminism and sharing it with the whole group. In this way, they have seen that in today’s digital feminism, it is not difficult to combine theory and practice and that both the standards and methods of feminist activism have changed. Moreover, by examining various feminist hashtags on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, etc., they have found that it is no longer solely possible in the physical world, but also in the digital world for people to give voice to their experiences of discrimination, oppression, violence or any harassment that they have encountered. In this sense, I really hope that this course will inspire our students to continue thinking about digitally motivated feminism in the 21st century and to further research on its literature and culture.
About the person
Nursen Gömceli teaches at the University of Klagenfurt. Her focus is on feminism and literary studies.