Naming a Radical Queer Girl Tumblr Aesthetic focuses on Tumblr as a space of safety, creativity, self-expression, and escape for young queer women and women of color while considering the paradox of the Internet as subject to market logic. It is a fluid, deeply personal space wherein girls/gurls/grrrls of any age can be raw, vulnerable, emotional, and sexual. Tumblr resists subjugation and creates a potentially utopic space for oppressed people. Building on a previous version of the essay that was co-authored by Alicia Eler and Kate Durbin, this updated version explores the IRL-URL connections of identity politics.
This essay considers Tumblr as a space of safety, creativity, self-expression, and escape for young queer women and women of color through case studies of contemporary Tumblr users. It can be a utopic space for girls of all genders who regularly experience oppression for just being their selfies, who have to shift between multiple identities on a daily basis, and who often must remain anonymous for their own safety.
Tumblr art Historian Ben Valentine, organizer of the first-ever Tumblr Art Symposium for Hyperallergic, notes the importance of Tumblr in a culture of systematic oppression. “Unlike Facebook, Tumblr allows for anonymous and multiple production of ourselves,” says Valentine. “This offers a powerful and empowering space for many users — teenage women among them — to explore themselves in an honest and relatively safe manner. In a way that is rarely offered in public space, where they may be subject to harassment and expectations to perform in certain ways can be more palpable and enforceable.”
Read the essay in its entirety on .dpi, the feminist journal of art and digital culture: