Cyberspace a Liminal Space

Cyberspace can very well be seen as a liminal space, though the notion of liminality in its initial use referred only to the “in between-ness” during the rites of passage, when the concept was introduced in 1909 by the ethnologist Arnold van Gennep. Later, Victor Turner—a social- anthropologist who explored more deeply this concept—enumerated some features of liminality as transition, homogeneity, communitas, equality, anonymity, absence of property, absence of status, minimization of sexual distinction, absence of rank, humility, disregard for personal experience, no distinction of wealth, unselfishness, total obedience, sacredness, continuous reference to mystical powers, foolishness, simplicity and acceptance of pain and suffering.21 Cyberspace becomes a liminal space in its scope as a transitionary phase that creates a certain amount of equality in the absence of rank, absence of status, and minimization of sexual distinction. Other characteristics of limi- nality such as anonymity and the possibility of communitas also apply to cyberspace.

The notion of liminality as “the setting for a life-changing transition”22 makes it pertinent in its association with cyberspace and women. The very fact that participants take on ‘usernames’ or identities, and many surreptitiously engage in activities they might not otherwise consider,”23 provides women anonymity which is necessary for engaging in subversive politics that can change their given situations. Cyberspace offers women also the possibility for “equality of relations, comradeship that transcends age, rank, kinship etc., and displays an intense community spirit.”24 As it is a self-chosen space, it facilitates de-centering, giving way to plurality and diversity. Thus, cyberspace can pave the way for cyberfeminism—opening to women an utopia of the possibilities created by new technologies in order to escape the phallic trap of gender binaries.25

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