Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why Do I Care?

Let's start with this...

As a part of this...
which makes up this...

What's my point? Many people have been commenting on the "So What?" part of my blog. Yes, I have research, articles, points, all driving my argument to a conclusive "The Renaissance social stage of the transvestite theater and the world wide web are echos of each other in terms of gender exploration." But what are the implications of such an argument? In other words, as my 14 year old sister, Sarah, asked me,
"Why do I care?"
Ugh, here Sarah, do you want back the knife you just stabbed through my literary heart?! But it's a good question. Why is it pertinent to understand that Elizabeth's social appearance at Tilbury reflects an aspect of our culture? So what?

Well, I'll be honest, as I started this project with "research paper" in mind, my point was simply to synthesize and critique the arguments of other scholars. A worthy skill to have and one which is valuable in its own right. Yet, with the freedom this blog gives me, it's good I've been pushed to extend my argument to adding to that literary conversation. This is a nice forum where I can state my ideas, derived in part through the work of others, and answer the "So what?" not through the ideas of scholars, but through my own voice echoing my thoughts.

Back to the pictures. This scientific phenomenon is echoed in almost every aspect of life, big things are big only because of the small things which combine to compose them. They are not simply "big." This is the phenomenon I see occurring within the literary discourse I've engaged in. My ideas are spurred by reading my classmate and colleague Heather's blog, Musings of a College Kid, and her quest to understand the significance of multiple online identities.

Here begins my thought process: Gender is one part of those "multiple identities" which makes up the larger issue of online identity which ultimately reflects the current state of "real" or physical identity and, as Heather is exploring, how all those identities reconcile in "Me."

While searching books on Amazon (a BEAUTIFUL research technique suggested to me by my professor, Gideon Burton) I came across a great book entitled "Being Virtual: Who You Really Are Online", the author's purpose obviously being exploring online identity. And I quote, "The internet has had the greatest change upon the perception of identity yet."

His main argument centers around the statement,
There is, in fact, only one thing that we do not do online: be ourselves

Yet then he challenges his own question.
Or do we? Online we are finally freed from the political conventions and cultural restraints that society determines we must apply to everything we do, everything we say, every relationship that we make and break...Perhaps then it is more appropriate to think that underneath whatever multiple masks we wear in the virtual world, however many personas we construct, a new collaborative identity is built which ultimately reveals the real us?
Just as there are many cells and layers/types of skin composing what we know as "skin," perhaps there are many different "Me's" which all together compose Me. What does this have to do with gender? Well, quite honestly I'm not sure other than gender is one of the "Me's" which makes up Me. I'm still mulling around ideas and need to sleep on it (really it works! It's how I justify going to bed at 9:30pm some days, "I'm working on a paper!") and will continue to post my thought process, and hopefully come to some conclusions. But here's a start! What do you think?


  1. Oh Becca, how I love working with you on this! First off, thank you for your WONDERFUL comments on my blog... very, very helpful! And I am so excited to read this "Being Virtual" book a little more! It's all just part of huge paradox... we DO have multiple identities, and we do manipulate those identities online. But, why? To form a singular identity. I really like the way you put it.... we needs me's in order to form Me. I just love that. You forumlated my thesis in a much better way than I did!

    And yes, I do think that gender can play in to those multiple identitites. It's like that anecdote from the book Play Between Worlds I blogged about, where the guy gave away roses at the gaming convention to all of the girls. Um, what if a man had a woman avatar? Would the rose-giver guy still give him a rose? Interesting questions!

  2. I think your relation to the body is apt and useful, and so I worked on a counter argument 'cause I'm an advocate. of the devil. What about tumors? Are there things that grow in/on our bodies that are "part" of us, and yet not part of us? Things that we need to get rid of, that are unnatural or diseased or malignant? Might the internet encourage these to grow?