Turning fear into pleasure: feminist resistance against online violence in the Global South

Shokooh Valle, Firuzeh
Feminist Media Studies

Gender-based online violence is pervasive, particularly affecting women, feminized bodies, and other marginalized communities. In this essay, I ask: What forms of political agency are flourishing amid increasing technological violence? I argue that feminist strategies of contestation to online violence in the Global South embody decolonial thought by re-appropriating and fostering the right of marginalized communities to express sexual pleasure online. The research is based on interviews with associates and collaborators of the transnational organization Women’s Rights Programme of the Association for Progressive Communications, participant observation, and textual analysis of organizational literature. I find that activists problematize online violence through two main strategies: first, by anchoring themselves in a southern epistemology that makes explicit the connections between gender-based online violence and broader sociotechnical, historical, and political contexts, and, second, by using activism against online violence, including threats of violence, to advocate for novel forms of online sexual agency and pleasure. I show how feminist activists reimagine a technological future that is truly emancipatory.