Social Media, Feminist Activism, and the Neoliberal Selfie
Published by: NYU Press
224 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm
- ISBN: 9781479808335
- Published: May 2021
Explores the perils and promise of feminist social media activism
Social media has become the front-and-center arena for feminist activism. Responding to and enacting the political potential of pain inflicted in acts of sexual harassment, violence, and abuse, Asian American and Asian Canadian feminist icons such as rupi kaur, Margaret Cho, and Mia Matsumiya have turned to social media to share their stories with the world. But how does such activism reconcile with the platforms on which it is being cultivated, when its radical messaging is at total odds with the neoliberal logic governing social media?
Pain Generation troubles this phenomenon by articulating a “neoliberal self(ie) gaze" through which these feminist activistssee and storify the self on social media as “good" neoliberal subjects who are appealing, inspiring, and entertaining. This book offers a fresh perspective on feminist activism by demonstrating how the problematic neoliberal logic governing digital spaces like Instagram and Twitter limits the possibilities of how one might use social media for feminist activism.
A committed and engaged account of how neoliberal logics limit and shape feminist activism on social media. The book offers tantalizing concepts to use in feminist media studies, chief among them the ‘neoliberal self(ie)gaze.’ While Ayu Saraswati sees the trouble in turning to social media to do feminist work, she nevertheless locates a space to engage in collective acts of resistance, solidarity, self-love, and accountability through what she calls ‘vigilant eco-love.’ The book itself is an act of ‘vigilant eco-love’ —thinking about how social media platforms and their ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ limit intersectional feminist and anti-racist work and channel our pain toward self-care and personal responsibility over accountability and structural change. While passionately non-judgmental and attentive to how these pitfalls challenge our feminist work, Pain Generation provides a framework for doing feminist work online as vigilant eco-loving warriors. ~Krista Lynes, author of Primatic Media, Transnational Circuits: Feminism in a Globalized Present
Deeply researched and meticulously reasoned, Pain Generation offers an incisive and thought-provoking new direction in thinking about the context, challenges, and possibilities for feminist activism in the neoliberalized digital space. The book provides us with a thorough, intimate, and nuanced analysis of an uneasy and complex relationship between feminism and neoliberalism as they are entangled with each other in social media. And by so doing, it not only exposes the underlying neoliberal structure of social media that controls and limits feminist activism, but also helps us imagine an alternative pathway for more critical, reflective, and reflexive social media practices for doing feminist activism online. ~Merlyna Lim, Canada Research Chair in Digital Media and Global Network Society.