TABLE OF CONTENTS ~>
egURL is a web platform and digital outlet that actively works toward empowering women and femmes online at the margins of different, inequitable, and often violent intersections.


contact: egurlxyz@gmail.com


organized by Paula Pinho Martins Nacif & ragna rök jóns

instagram / twitter: egurlxyz
Ambar Navarro [posted on Nov 8 2016] Happy Birthday Aaron Swartz, who passed away at age 26 on January 11, 2013. Aaron was a genius who was responsible for Reddit and helping create RSS and Creative Commons. Watch "The Internet's Own Boy" available for free on YouTube. Read full text taken from one of Aaron's blog posts

by Ambar Navarro / Text comission by Animated Text
Itsï [posted on Nov 7 2016] "newborn" by Itsï [soundcloud]

Maya Martinez [posted on Nov 7 2016] "I Just Wanna Look 4 Ya" by Maya Martinez http://yeastgirl420.com What Happens When We Romanticize Misery?

The two girls occupy the third floor. It is humid, and the girls patter about. Girl1 is on her bed, scrolling through her phone and trying to take care of her nails. The other, Girl 2 is in the bathroom, brushing her hair.

Girl 1
But did I tell you about the email from my dad?

Girl 2
The one where he talks about your body?

Girl 1
(cutting her toe nails, one falls to the floor, thick, she leaves it there and reaches for her phone)

Yeah want me to reread it to you?

Girl 2
(fussing with a knot and fussing with her split ends)

Yes

Girl 1
(stands up, and leans on the door frame)

My Dad says….
“Let me give you a mans take on why you are making so much money at the strip club.
You look like you are 15 years old Maya. Men who go to see you at the strip club are borderline pedophiles.
That is what you are promoting and you say you respect your body????”

Girl 2
(turns to girl one, hair brush still in hand)
That doesn’t seem appropriate at all…for your father to infantilize you like that…

Girl 1
(moves to the full body mirror, she turns her back to it and bends over,
a clear shot of her clit she takes a selfie. Under her breath she whispers…)

But who is this audience in this situation?

(reaching for her phone she opens twitter and tweets something like)
True life: my parents infantilize my body more than most men at the club….

maybe equally?
(she imagines an episode of family feud, one side her parents, the other team
a group of men varying in age. Steve Harvey asking questions about parts
of her body and everyone hitting buzzers)
Hazkel Brown Ch. [posted on Nov 7 2016] @hazeuky96_10
interview: cybertwee [posted on Nov 7 2016] "cybertwee is an arts collective co-founded in 2014 by artists gabriella hileman, violet forest, and may waver. through cybertwee’s manifesto, facebook group, and other internet-based projects, the collective explores intersections of femininities, feelings, and technology with a focus on community and education." [cybertwee.net]
How/when did you meet and start working together? What is your collaborative process and dynamic like? May: I met Gabriella and Violet in the summer of 2014 via facebook. I remember messaging Violet to tell her I loved her photography. That October we all met up in Chicago, had a cute sleepover, and wrote the cybertwee manifesto on Gabriella’s typewriter, and since then we’ve been working collaboratively, and remotely, with texting and skype as our main forms of communication. Violet: I think I was feeling alienated IRL and was looking for artists I could relate to, so I was friending people on facebook and came across Gabriella’s profile. I asked Gabriella if she was “seapunk” and she said no I’m cybertwee. And I’m like huh what. She made the facebook group and added me and I started getting the hang of the aesthetic. I was in grad school at the time so I decided to explore the aesthetic as my practice. My art history professor told us to write a manifesto as an assignment, and that was the time that Gab and May and I decided to meet IRL and I suggested we write the cybertwee manifesto. So it started as the manifesto but as a student in Art and Technology Studies, I started becoming aware of the dialogue of femininity in the tech industry and I thought cybertwee was a great way to start that discussion, because the culture surrounding cyberpunk and technology in general is usually masculine. Gabriella: When I conceptualized cybertwee initially out of a thesis project, Violet and I began scheming what forms it could take. Our friend Nu suggested a facebook group, which I then built initially as an experiment. I wasn’t sure if it would be active at all. Then Violet proposed a manifesto. We were both aware of May’s work and when she told us she was visiting, we invited her to our combination Conference, Roundtable and sleepover. The manifesto happened really organically at that point. A lot of people really enjoyed it and we were invited to participate in a few shows, which really prompted us to start working as an arts collective and making other performative and browser based work. What is cybertwee? Is cybertwee exclusively online and connected to the Internet or does it ever manifest AFK (away from keyboard)? Violet: cybertwee is a proposal for a need of a subgenre that serves as an antithesis/counterblast to cyberpunk // a proposal for a greater role of femme in cyberpunk, however it manifests. Gabriella: It is open sourced, crowd sourced, and manifested AFK as installations, lectures, and lingering thoughts from interacting with its online spaces. When did you create the ♡♡ cybertwee ♡♡ facebook group? Why did you choose to keep access to viewing and participating the group private to Facebook users that request membership or get invited? Gabriella: We keep cybertwee private to protect the members of our community. We add just about everyone except profiles that look like ray-ban bots. We’ve banned less than 5 people, and in each case it’s a measure of safety due to personal attacks on members of the group. How does the ♡♡cybertwee♡♡ Facebook group contribute and define the identity of cybertwee? I think about post-internet, and seapunk, and how they became progressively vague the more people “re-blogged” and appropriated it. Do you think miscontextualizing cybertwee aesthetics without having intentions of tenderness and cuteness could defeat its power? Gabriella: Our intention for cybertwee has always been for it to be a crowd-sourced meeting of ideas. One of the reasons we like the group format is that it leads to many fruitful discussions in the threads. As admins we don’t want to control what “is” or “isn’t” cybertwee. Group members help define it by posting things they feel are cybertwee, though often other members may comment in disagreement, or the post may not be popular. I guess one of the downsides of doing it as a social media project is that things do fluctuate in popularity. I wish there was an easy way to express that if a post if less popular, it doesn’t invalidate its merit or belonging. Violet: It would be great if more people were involved with discussions about identity & gender politics and cyberfeminism but on a wider scale we are happy if cybertwee creates a dialogue for whatever people personally find useful for them. May: I agree with what Gabriella and Violet have said. I see our manifesto as a general intention, rather than a rigid text. Mutation is not just inevitable but also encouraged! The most important thing for me is that the group stays a welcoming place to bring art and ideas that may be trivialized in other arenas. The ♡♡cybertwee♡♡ Facebook group shares a lot of images of clothing, gadgets, home decor, makeup, accessories, etc. Can you “own” cybertwee? Gabriella: There’s this online interactive tool that I always really loved that demonstrates how objects can have the quality of cuteness though small proportions and roundness, mimicking baby-like qualities. Our perception of cuteness is a knee-jerk response to things we find on a neurological level to be diminutive and vulnerable. We do share many commodities in the group as part of creating a fantasy narrative. I cannot afford most of what is posted in the group, but I enjoy the aspect of placing all the objects in one place as a kind of organizational aesthetic practice and world building exercise; it’s kind of like window shopping - a way for me to express consumer desires that have been ingrained in me since childhood without having to act on them or to feel the “shame” of having actually consumed these objects (i.e. the guilt of spending money, the sense of devaluation as the object ages.) Sometimes it’s just enough to know they exist without having to hold or store them. Violet: Like Gab said, a lot of it is this fantasy that would be great if we lived in but tbh not really realistic to live 24/7 immersed in and clothed in beautiful objects if you don’t have a lot of money -- but its definitely fun on special occasions. A lot of it is also a hopeful projection of the future -- having technology that is directly influenced by femininity and by marginalized peoples in general, and a fantasy/science fiction that looks a bit different than the scifi that we are used to. But all those beautiful objects put together creates this moodboard and jumping off point for inspiration and for people to create and code and invent and play. May: "Ownership" is a slippery thing, but anyone can own cybertwee in whatever way they feel compelled to own it – whether that's through collecting and sharing images, wearing clothes that make them feel connected to their idea of cybertwee, feeling a sense of ownership of their self (or selves) by identifying with some part of cybertwee, or something else. For me there's pleasure in the sharing aspect, and I wouldn't want to claim ownership of cybertwee at the expense of other people's ideas. What do you think is the set of social conditions that have given so much power to cuteness? When tenderness is capitalized does it still carry subversive powers? May: I think cuteness is 100% capitalized upon, and a large part of that has to do with the way cuteness is constructed within capitalism / white supremacy / patriarchy. You can't talk about cuteness without talking about how youth is fetishized and exploited, or how sweetness is often a kind of required performance – subservience in order to get by. Cuteness is also often dismissed and belittled. Anything intentionally "girly" / decorative / cutesy is seen as frivolous, not to be taken seriously. I guess where I find cuteness subversive is in the demand for it to be taken seriously, as elements of style or behavior that are intentional, and political, and self-aware. There is also, in my opinion, a difference between cuteness and tenderness (although they overlap for me personally in some ways.) It's possible to perform "cuteness" without actually being tender or kind to the people around you. Tenderness also exists within the capitalist structure, but I think practicing genuine kindness and vulnerability with the people around you is actually a pretty radical thing. Gabriella: There’s that old proverb that you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Like I said before, I think the power associated with cuteness has to do with an innate instinct to protect offspring. I think the power in tenderness comes from a different place. Personally, I struggle with being able to hold on to empathy and sweetness in every situation, and don’t think it’s appropriate in every situation. However, as social animals, it is advantageous to be able to connect with others through diplomacy, which necessitates empathy of another person’s situation and perspective, as well as an ability to allow some compromise. In conflict resolution, expressing emotional restraint in times of anger and working with tenderness and empathy can coincide with effectively explaining your own feelings, goals and desires, and lead to both parties getting what they want.
I’m not sure if ideas themselves can be capitalized. Advertising and products can manipulate our predisposition to being responsive to these things, but does it diminish our pull to them in lived interpersonal situations? I’m not so sure. Does watching a cereal ad that capitalizes ideas of family togetherness diminish strong family bonds as we experience them? I don’t think so.
When did you discover you were cute and how to use and experience cuteness? Do you ever feel frustrated by cuteness? Violet: Thats a pretty personal question so it’s not easy to not give a personal answer. But the first thing that comes to mind is that when I was like 10 and I would like to a sit with my legs open and my dad would tell me to close my legs. And I just couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal for me to sit how I wanted to comfortably. I guess it comes down a lot to innocence… I get frustrated that sometimes cuteness is synonymous with sexuality when I wasn’t trying for it to be, but it was interpreted in that way. May: I grew up being told that I was cute in lots of ways – from teachers, from my parents, from commercials that marveled at how cute some child was (who looked like me), and so on. There are so many social forces telling little white girls that they are cute and desirable. As an adult, the other side of that is the amount of times "cute" has been leveraged against me as a way of condescending or dismissing something I've said or made. I feel frustrated that cuteness is so inextricably wrapped up in oppressive social structures. With cybertwee it feels like there's hope in people trying to redefine their own cuteness – a fractured cuteness, a critical cuteness, a self-indulgent cuteness, whatever that looks like. It’s definitely been a space for me the examine that within myself. Is cuteness exclusive to femininity or those who identify as femme? Violet: In femme culture the word cute is used for a lot more things than just cute kittens or cute babies -- for example, I heard a femme-identified person on the train compliment another femme-identified person on the color of their nail polish. They said, “I love your nail polish color! It’s so cute!”. I think cisgendered men would feel a bit uncomfortable telling their cisgendered male friend that they “looked so cute today”. And I think cisgendered men have critiqued cybertwee in confusion for not being “cute”... I guess using the word “cute” for everything is so natural to me that I never would have thought I had to explain that cute isn’t just cute kittens or cute babies. May: Anyone can be anything they want :) gURLs, bbs, & bbgurls seem central to cybertwee & to a lot of femme users on social media -- do you identify as gurlz/gURLs, bbs, and/or bbgurls? What do those labels mean to you? Violet: I identify as gURL, meaning that a lot of my socialization happened/happens through interacting/meeting others online, and I present my online identity as femme. I used to hang out with other gURLs that I met online in my preteen years and we would make little websites together and cute gifs and dolls and banners and stuff, and I associate that online girlhood culture as gURL culture, but that’s just one example. Another example can be Tumblr culture and the girlhood culture in that that’s huge for a lot of teenagers. May: I feel like a gURL in a way similar to what Violet said – presenting myself femme online, and also having my femininity influenced by online spaces, like a feedback loop of identity. (I guess that’s what identity is in all spaces anyway?) I like using bb / bbgurl / gurl / qt etc. as affectionate names for other femme folks I feel close to online, when that feels like a shared language. Are there any situations in your life that you have to act the opposite of what cybertwee is? Gabriella: At some points in my life I’ve allowed myself to be a doormat. At other points, I’ve been way too aggressive. I think for me, the hardest thing is striking a balance between the two and learning what it means to embody some aspects of tenderness while not backing down when the ground I am standing is important. In the workforce, sometimes I feel it’s necessary to push back a bit in order to establish yourself as independent and strong. I feel like femmes can be pushed to take an opposite role and it’s important to somehow make yourself heard and respected but also liked. I sometimes get dizzy thinking about it. Violet: I used to avoid the color pink because I was taught that it was synonymous with dumb and ditzy but I think thats just learned femme-bashing. It’s not like cybertwee is only about “pink femininity”, but that’s the most obvious correlation, and I think a pretty persistent one in our culture, and one that people are taught since they were a child. A lot of people also say hey its 2016 why are we still associating pink with femininity, can we just be gender neutral already? But I look around and I see the girl toy markets are so aggressive and pervasive in their color-coding that I kind of lose hope and I’m like whatever I’m just going to embrace it. What are some online resources you think are important for young femmes navigating the web? Gabriella: https://tech.safehubcollective.org/cybersecurity/ May:
A few random resources I’ve found helpful / interesting:
- Free courses in tons of subjects (where I’m learning some coding): khanacademy.org
- An org that explores art, technology, and activism that prioritizes values of safety, creativity, and love within digital culture: HACK*BLOSSOM
- Self-help videos that genuinely feel empowering: Iyanla Vanzant’s youtube channel
What are some of your favorite websites and apps right now? May: I’ve recently become really interested in this site called librivox.org. It’s a hub for free public domain audiobooks, all recorded and edited by volunteers from around the world. I’ve just begun volunteering as a reader – partly inspired by my grandma, who is vision-impaired and relies on audio to read anything. It’s my goal to focus on reading books by women, which are frustratingly scarce in the public domain. Gabriella:
f.lux, An app that blocks blue light to help with earlier bedtimes (I stay up really late).
self control, An app that blocks distracting websites for better productivity.
“Quiet Gardens of the Internet” by Pol Clarissou - A beautiful artwork in the form of a chrome extension that converts all text to floral emoji.
Kobakant DIY - A guide to wearable technology and soft sensors.
_plyGnd by branger_briz - a 3js interactive tool for learning how to create web animations.
What is cybertwee doing next? Gabriella: We’re Visiting the Open Hardware Summit in Portland, Oregon as fellows in the next few weeks! We’re also working on establishing permanent online deep web bake sale site and a print Cybersecurity Deep Web Bakesale handbook. Stay tuned!
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