This essay attempts to disable the “ruinous” logic that has fueled recent slut-shaming on Web 2.0 by making visible the ways in which our machines are promiscuous—routinely “leaking.” The authors present the leak as a habit so as to disrupt the illusion of privacy and sealed subjectivity that enables the possibility of being a “victim” of slut-shaming, revenge porn, and similar dangers of Web 2.0. They argue that blaming the user for leaks only detracts from the systematic vulnerabilities of Web 2.0. The essay looks at the pernicious practice of “ruining” young, white, female subjects through the circulation of naked or sexual images of them. This habit not only exemplifies the linking of subjectivity, privacy, and whiteness but also the way in which the online subject is figured as open, vulnerable, and perhaps asking for it—that is, traditionally female. The essay argues that rather than call for bubbles of privacy that seal off online subjects, as if to prevent their leaking or sluttiness, the inherent promiscuity of new media must be embraced.
Habits of Leaking: Of Sluts and Network Cards
wendy hui kyong chun is a professor and the chair of modern culture and media at Brown University. She has studied both systems design engineering and English literature, which she combines and mutates in her current work on digital media. She is the author of Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2011) and Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2006). Her forthcoming book Habitual New Media will appear with Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press in 2015.
sarah friedland is a filmmaker and choreographer working at the intersection of moving images and moving bodies, narrative and affect. She investigates the relationship between movement, narrative, and affect. A recent graduate of Brown University, she studied in the department of modern culture and media, where she was awarded the Kenneth Baker Memorial Prize for her honors thesis titled “The Meaning of the Moves: Gestural Mythologies and the Generic Film.” She was also the recipient of the Weston Fine Arts Award for her hybrid art in film, dance, and photography. Friedland is currently working on a new dance piece titled “Diegesis: The Film Viewer Solos,” along with several film projects in New York City.
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Sarah Friedland; Habits of Leaking: Of Sluts and Network Cards. differences 1 September 2015; 26 (2): 1–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-3145937
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