Ladder of Hierarchy: how gender matters in internet governance

In the Gender and Internet Governance Exchange (gigX) workshop last month, we, participants from different countries — Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, were asked to arrange these words on a “ladder of hierarchy”.

Ladder one

  • Married man
  • Unmarried man
  • Married woman, unmarried woman
  • Disabled woman
  • Disabled man
  • Transman, transwoman, HIV+ man, HIV+ woman, gay man, lesbian woman
  • Sex worker

Ladder two

  • Unmarried man
  • Married woman
  • Unmarried woman
  • Disabled woman
  • Gay man, lesbian woman, married man, disabled woman
  • Trans man, trans woman
  • HIV+ woman
  • HIV+ man, sex worker

The first “ladder” belonged to one group, while the second ladder belonged to my group. Despite our cultural differences, it seemed as though we all agreed on one thing – whether married or unmarried – men are always on top.

Male or female, white or black, straight or lesbian, remember that these things matter. Our society positions us according to our race, class, education, ability, age, language, and of course, gender and sexuality. I remember one of the speakers saying: “These intersectionalities determine where we stand as a citizens. And thus, it determines our access to rights”. She also said that when it comes to online spaces and internet governance, you don’t go there as a blank person. These things stick with you.

Read the full Feminist talk in .