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Enacting Privacy and Everydayness online: The case study of the Spiteful Tots community

By Terri Chih-yin He


This thesis focuses on an online Taiwanese community named the Spiteful Tots. The long-term participants are mainly gay men, with several lesbian women, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and heterosexual people. The community, whilst accessible by anyone via a registered screen ID name, operates like a private club. As a part of this community from its beginning in 2000, I am interested in the community in this particular location, not least because of my own affiliation with Taiwan, but because of the cultural specificity of Taiwan as non-Western and yet Westernised. My research methodology is based on approaches inspired by ethnography. I observe the dynamics, participate in the community, collect data, and visit online and offline sites to formulate ideas in relation to both the inside and outside of the community. I use knowledge and experience gained from my interaction with the Spiteful Tots participants and with the wider Taiwanese society. I locate the community within the culture of contemporary Taiwan, utilising and critiquing previous literature on the politics of sexuality, gender theories, and critical analyses of heteronormativity. My findings are: a) the Spiteful Tots participants carefully negotiate ways of maintaining privacy within the group, and do not ‘come out’ in recognised LGBT ways; b) the Spiteful Tots community focuses on discussion of mundane everyday life, rather than on sexual politics. My findings have the following implications: a) privacy and everydayness enables the Spiteful Tots participants to assert 'freedom from scrutiny and created a zone of "relative insularity"' (Cohen 2000); b) a rejection to heteronormativity is enabled by (re)asserting the right of privacy and validating everyday life as a gay or queer subject, and c) therefore, there needs to be consideration and recognition of gay or queer subjects’ right of privacy, as well as academic and political attention to the representation of sexual minorities’ everydayness

Publisher: Centre for Women's Studies (York)
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

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