(Chat)Rooms for Rent: Gays, Identity, and Power in Cyberspace

From Iskomunidad


This study challenges the prevailing notion of cyberspace as a tool for liberation specifically in the online gay chatroom, PlanetRomeo. It looks at the problem of gay identity construction in the realm of cyberspace. This study questions the democratic and liberatory view towards cyberspace by re-examining representations of gay identity and the power struggles involved in this online community.

Textual analysis will be used to identify manifestations of patriarchy and capitalism in order to point to the discourse of marginalization in cyberspace. The site PlanetRomeo was chosen since it is one of the most widely used website among gays which has almost 59,500 users everyday. It is run and managed by a Dutch gay team and claims to be a genuine community that is accessible to gays around the globe. It has a lot of applications which include chatrooms, which will be the main focus of critique and interrogation in this study. By reading the site as a text, this study attempts to contest the empowering characteristics of cyberspace, as seen by other critics. By using the frameworks of classical Marxism, Guy Debord’s Spectacle, Mark Poster’s Super-Panopticon, and J. Neil Garcia’s Philippine Gay Studies, this study will look at how capitalism gives a false notion of liberation in this marginalized space.

With these premises, this study argues that the true power of cyberspace still lies on the intertwining factors of capitalism and the dominant patriarchal ideology, thus, continuing the prevalence of marginalization.

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Subject Index : Gay Online Chat Groups