CHICAGO — “Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded,” 29-year-old spy Edward Snowden told the Guardian last Sunday, openly identifying himself as the whistleblower on the NSA PRISM program, which he alleged is gathering communications data not just from foreigners, as officials previous said, but on a vast domestic scale. Nine major internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo! and Facebook are all named as offering up data, according to DemocracyNow. We are all being watched, and now we know it.
Amidst all of this, there is a growing phenomenon of people — mostly young white girls and women — voluntarily offering up their bodies, their deeper thoughts and dreams, and most of all their faces (selfies) to the internet in a public way, free of charge and always ready to share. In an age of fearing finding out what others have said about you, these people are fearlessly saying look at me, look at myselfie, and objectify me as you would like to. In fact, I welcome your comments, likes, and potentially your reblogs.
In Sianne Ngai’s book Our Aesthetic Categories, she discusses our visibility on the internet, where the performance-driven world of late capitalism plays out, making us both complicit voyeurs of one another and objects of surveillance by our big brother(s) and Big Brother. Perhaps, the theory goes, the answer here is not to self-censor on the internet but to further expose, to use this constant stream of self-captured images as the last weapon in a surveillance society that sees white women (and, it should be noted, all women, but my focus here is on the former) as objects, as aesthetic categories, and most of all as the embodiment of what capitalism attempts to make of them. Throw it up and then swallow it down again, allowing the cycle of binging and purging to continue. Perhaps the only way to truly “take back the night” nowadays is to publish almost soft-porn-esque images of ourselves on the internet. This voluntary self-exposure is an attempt to take back the images of our bodies, by completely reveavling them on our own time and in our own way.
Read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/73709/white-womens-bodies-as-selfie-objectified-tools-of-dissent/