On the Occasion of Women’s History Month, We Appreciate the History of Women’s Struggles & Take a Look at their Contributions in Creating our Future, the Metaverse.
In October of last year, Facebook took the world by storm by announcing that it was changing its name to ‘Meta’ and thus staking claim to a developing metaverse. While the metaverse did not begin with this announcement, it seems to have floated to the mainstream through Zuckerburg’s vision. But what is this vision but an obvious connection of worlds that had been viewed in disparity?
The key to viewing the metaverse and its effects on our lives is through envisioning a totality that integrates the virtual with the physical and the economic–three intertwined worlds now merging into one.
As of today, women have continuously struggled to enforce their presence in the physical and the economical spheres. This manifests in international wage gaps hunting employers and human rights violations occurring on social and judicial levels in even the most advanced of societies (the fact that grassroot pro-choice movements are still required in the US is a testament to that). However, with the integration of the virtual and the decentralization of currencies (through the rise of a digital ‘virtual’ economy), women might just be able to navigate their existing struggles and reshape their relationship with the current patriarchal world. Their contributions to the rising world are a start, but are they an end?
Women’s Contributions To The Metaverse
In the world of immersive technology, women have been the demographic most subjected to discrimination and a lack of representation. Indeed, the great majority (over 75%) of those in tech are men. However, a quick look at women’s history shows us that they are not the ones to stay silent if outnumbered; they know they have a seat at the table and they know they will take it no matter what.
With the rise of the Metaverse, women are becoming the face of modern technology on their own terms, not through men-led stereotypes that degrade women’s bodies and freedoms.
Below are five women who are breaking the norms of the tech industry through their contributions:
Candice Houtekier, Art Collision’s Founder & Director
Ang’l Artiste, Artist & VR Creator
Mary Spio, CEO & Founder of CEEK
Mary Matheson, Film Director & VR Creator
Janine Yorio, Co-Founder & CEO of Everyrealm
While this new representation places women in a position of advantage in shifting the norms with the integration of the virtual, is it enough?
Representation In The Metaverse: Revolutionary Or More Of The Same?
On February 1, a 43-year old mother from London spoke up about her experience as a Meta avatar. According to her testimony, she was groped by several male avatars upon her arrival in the upcoming virtual world. While this incident quickly inspired new ‘digital rules’, it sent a downstream shock of realization: the Metaverse is not the end of women’s struggles and their history of power does not rest with its initiation.
This realization was reiterated with high fashion brands’ launches as meta businesses, signaling more objectification. The body becomes the avatar, and the avatar becomes, once more, subject to huge corporations and their anxieties for profit.
Revolutionary? Definitely not. More of the Same? Not necessarily.
How Women Can Reshape The Meta Narrative
I conclude this blog with a message of solidarity, one that has been iterated by women all over the world since the rise of our economy. While the Metaverse is not intrinsically revolutionary for women, it is dialectically influenced by their endless contributions.
The women who will shape our future as a society are those who will keep rising in tech, those who will open doors in this male-dominated industry to new generations of women, and those who will understand the ongoing struggles with the rise of the virtual.
It is the women who will flood the tech industry and impose the rules and regulations that will make the Metaverse revolutionary, who hold the future for women… And we are all here to support them this Women’s History Month and every month.
by Adham Al Saabi