How would a feminist digital platform look?
The more I reflect on this question, the more I think that I would like to do this exercise by exploring these issues in the place where I spend (and produce) many hours of my day, in order to ask myself if the digital platform where I work, Goteo.org, is a feminist platform.
The first question that comes to mind is “what does it mean when a digital platform or the Internet is feminist”?
When we talk about digital platforms, the intangibility of the contents, the presumed anonymity and the ease of access can suggest a kind of “open bar”, where everything goes and there are no protocols or good practices worth following. In reality, these aspects are valued and should be valued even more, especially by those collectives that fight every day for the rights of women, for gender justice and against discriminations and systems of oppression.
The Internet is still the (too faithful) representation of life outside the Internet, since it reproduces the marginalization of certain groups of people, already discriminated in real life. The web is a space whose norms are negotiated and fulfilled as if they were the direct extension of the external space, dominated by patriarchy and heteronormativity.
However, as Rochelle Jones points out, the Internet has been an earthquake for the feminist movement, since it has allowed, as never before, the visibility and awareness of difference, diversity and flexibility. This is because it has made new connections, demonstrations, militancy and activism possible. And because it has enabled necessary tools and platforms to organize and to challenge systems of oppression through the intersectionality.
For feminism, the Internet and digital tools can be a space for political transformation, from which to amplify their voice and discourse. The web can facilitate new forms of citizenship to ask, build and express genders, sexualities, desires. That includes connecting territories, claiming responsibility and accountability, transparency, and generating new and unexpected opportunities (#ImagineAFeministInternet).
Notes on the Goteo platform
I have written some notes and reflections on the experience and environment of Goteo.org, but I think they can be interesting and valid for other entities that want to ask themselves questions and analyze their own actions.
- Doing things from a different place: there are many models, but if a crowdfunding platform is managed by a non-profit foundation, this implies that there may be a different model of governance, more horizontality, more transparency, and a social mission that will be reflected in the supported projects.
- Commitment: Goteo asks their projects to commit to what they do, that is, to have a social impact in their communities, and to situate themselves in their community and projects. In my opinion, this means that they affect and they let themselves be affected.
- Apply the story and be accountable: the principles of transparency and horizontality govern the Foundation, and these get translated into publishing the data of everything that passes through the platform, having its own API published on GitHub, having a non-hierarchical structure where decisions are taken and created collectively and in a participatory manner.
- In order to innovate, we must listen: fostering social innovation means situating ourselves, since this process is intrinsically political. And that goes hand in hand with the collaborative co-creation of the tools, where the direct experience of the Goteo community is valued.
- A No “one size fits all” approach: the platform and the services provided by Goteo are designed taking into account h the people who use them and their different needs. However, this is always a work in progress and it can be improved, precisely because the needs of people change continuously. Some examples:
- Accessible UX: accessible design fits those who use it, allowing each person to feel comfortable. For example you can select gender between woman, man and gender neutral; you can chose for the social commitment of your project to be in the category "gender"; or change language and currency. We know we can improve, and we're on it :)
- Privacy and data: The right to privacy allows us to control our personal data and the information we provide. At Goteo.org, people promoting projects can use the data provided by the donors only to manage the distribution of rewards. In addition, users can control what information they provide to the platform, thereby exercising their right to privacy and digital security.
- Anonymity: this is what allows, depending on cases, a full freedom of expression, while hindering the discrimination suffered by certain groups. Through the platform it is possible to make contributions without registration, as well as donating anonymously.
- Violence, no, thanks: on the platform, under no circumstances, we tolerate, attacks, harassment, intimidation or offensive, discriminatory, sexist, xenophobic and racist comments ... and as part of collective responsibility, when these events occur, we make them visible through communications in our social networks.
- Accompanying is caring: the advisory team accompanies the projects and the promoters from the reception until the end of their campaign, and beyond, with a dedication, care and affection not easy to find elsewhere.
- Multidisciplinarity: this applies to the variety of projects we host, but also to our heterogeneous team, that provides multiple resources and skills, and therefore knows how to respond to different desires, needs and sensitivities.
- Check your language!: we care about communications both internally, within the team, and publicly, because we know that language is not neutral, and it reflects our value system, the place from which we speak and where we stand.
- From micro to macro and vice versa: we are committed to social change, to supporting the self-management and self-organization of individual initiatives (crowdfunding) as well as the citizens who want to support them, but also to financing tools combining citizen participation and public money (matchfunding).
- Amplifying the voice of women: more than half of the projects published in Goteo.org are promoted by women, so this makes their stories, their experiences and their agencies visible. The communication campaign #donesdegoteo on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram was carried out in December 2017 exactly to achieve this purpose.
- Nosotras también paramos: 40% of the Goteo team are women, with roles distributed among the management, advice, communication, project management, ... and we joint the #huelgafeminista (feminist strike) on March 8th, which wanted to transcend labor unemployment to also involve care responsibilities and consumption.
Let the projects speak
Having Goteo.org support projects promoted by women has a capital significance for us, because it visibilises their struggles to carried out such initiatives, and if and how they access services and economic resources.
And if we explore the topic further, the presence of such projects emphasize social (in)justice and the impact of political decisions, tax havens, and transparency on the most vulnerable groups, especially in the Global South. This allows us to go beyond feminist theory, to get to practice, to real life, to the concrete sustenance of ideas, initiatives and communities.
So here are some crowdfunding campaigns that empower, visibilize and shouts really loudly:
- The Matriu Association promotes the Appodera’t. Grup de dones campaign to finance the management of their empowerment group. The objective is to provide a space of confidence for LBTIQ women and CIS people, where they can share experiences and strategies of resistance to patriarchy. This campaign is part of the Conjuntament matchfunding call.
- There are many tools fighting violence against women. #SomHEROIES/ #SomosHÉROAS facilitates creative writing groups as therapy for women who experienced sexist violence. The campaign was carried forward by Tamaia, a cooperative of and for women, whose struggle aims to achieve interpersonal and social relationships that are free of violence.
- Theatre is another tool (fighting violence against women) and Piel con Piel uses this approach in its creation project for young people, focusing on the prevention of human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation. The project was carried forward by institutes of the Madrid local administration. Through the campaign, the group also managed to finance the homonymous festival.
- The Gitanas Feministas por la Diversidad Association organized the 1st European Roma Feminist Congress, with the aim of covering the attendance expenses of the registered people. The congress put Roma women and men at the center of the debate as producers of a Roma feminist discourse.
- Living a double invisibilization. L.S.B, Ana - ¡El LESBICÓMIC! crowdfunded to cover the costs of editing a comic, in Basque and Spanish, whose protagonist is faced every day with her reality as a woman and lesbian, and her daily struggle with society, from coming out of the closet, to transsexuality, or protection against to HIV.
- Reflecting on gender and sexuality, My Way Out (Ni Naiz Naizena) had the objective of financing the script, the documentation work, the recording of interviews and the "making-of" of a documentary focused on the search for femininity of her protagonist.
- Thanks to what raised during the Sin cadenas campaign, the promoting group was able to promote both women empowerment and sustainable mobility. They edited a guide that gathered their experience teaching adults to ride a bike, and consequently systematizing knowledge and allowing their methodology to be replicated. The group also financed new trainings so that more adult women (migrants, with low incomes ...) could learn how to ride a bike.
Can we come to any conclusions?
As APC (Association for Progressive Communication) teaches us, we should work to strengthen the capacity of women to acquire even more confidence, skills and resources to influence the use, development and decision making in the web and in every digital tool.
For the Internet to be a political space of empowerment and justice, from which it is possible to fight against discriminatory norms, structures and practices, for a feminist Internet, the fight for women's rights and gender justice must be amplified and we must deconstruct the barriers that prevent women from accessing and benefit from ICTs.
Designing and managing feminist digital tools involves, therefore, extending to the digital space the same struggles and resistances we exercise in non-virtual spaces, whether public, private or interstitial.