This was a difficult project for me. It was not for lack of ideas but wanting to say too much.
Should I center around Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” (1984), which lay at the crossroads between gender, identity and technology, incorporating themes like chimeras and being somewhat animal yet also a technological creature? I couldn’t with honesty because I’ve never read this postmodern feminist classic even though I’ve read summaries and find the summaries very agreeable. The very notion of gender is crossed over and expanded within giving me access to speak authentically as a postmodern feminist and a male but since I’d never read the source material, such would be dishonest and likely too obscure to explain in such a short space.
But then I realized: I can slide this project sideways and back in time a little for I have had the privilege of having had a future vision that may suit the criteria of this project and working on it in reality. I have had the privilege of participating in and watching it unfold with wonder over a period of nearly 34 years.
Quickly going over early influences in the video, I mention being an early adopter and advocate of the early internet and mention my work in children’s rights but without space to be specific so I shall do so here.
I founded the first children’s rights group on the internet in 1990/1. Known as Y-RIGHTS, I set it to be very broad and as inclusive as possible. My main focus was kids and teens having a voice in their own lives in various degrees and people together to talk about it. I was privileged to be found by a UNICEF coordinator and the group helped them and they helped us as did other human rights groups, as well as the rare middle and high school classes that got experimentally online in the days of green terminals and text only.
I was 18 when I started it and I swore I would never forget what it was like (in hardships) to be young and I hope I remembered to today. I had a vision of this internet which could bring various people together from different continents and organizations could be used as a place for kids and teens and the adults they would someday become to learn about the incredible variety of humans by engaging and explore their own possibilities through trying on different personas or having a safe space to share the persona that they were unable to at home, school, or work. I wanted the planet to get online and over 34 years, they have, including at least two generations of which a majority of them are online – Generation Z and Generation Alpha as they’re called.
I’ve had the privilege of watching subcultures form of so many kinds, I knew Otherkin – a precursor to furries, including Elfenkind, had friends that used alternative pronouns – I think it was Xe and Xhe – I was and am a fan of people using their own – and the start of all the wonderful freedoms for young people for identites and subcultures hinted at back at that time, and I wanted this to be available worldwide with the multinational collaborations possible, all person to person, group to group with maximum individual autonomy possible.
Not being a woman I did not think it would be right for me to express what I think or believe to be the future of women or of feminism. However, I can speak of identity, intersection, our nature as being chimeras of a kind and the forgotten power of collaboration between like-minded that internet affords.
Early internet artifacts are difficult to find as much of that era was wiped as servers died or repurposed, data destroyed forever. But there is some evidence. I’ll share two. Two major spawns from this group includes TCS – “Taking Children Seriously” – a libertarian parenting style whose founders, Sarah Fitz-Claridge and David Deutsche met on my list and split off when I didn’t like their academic writing style and showed them how to start their own group, which they did and it flourished. Taking Children Seriously – a new view of children
The other major spawn was NYRA – National Youth Rights Association, and focuses on drinking age, voting rights, curfew, student rights and medical autonomy. They were “too political” for my liking so I showed them how to start their own group which they did and flourished. National Youth Rights Association – NYRA
I bring all of this detail to demonstrate that working to actualize the future you think should already exist is a worthy pursuit. I see so much of the future I wanted and worked for around me and I’m still working on it in new realms in new ways as there is a long long way to go – and you can as well in the areas important to you. You can’t start yesterday. Only now.