Why are libertarians disproportionately masculine

The problem with social sorting

The female body is constantly monitored in the various spaces in which it moves; from the "privacy" of your own four walls to public space. The male gaze is constantly categorizing and controlling the female form to ensure that it conforms to overarching patriarchal norms. Surveillance - and datafication of everyday life - is not simply an invasion of privacy, but, as David Lyon postulates, also a form of social sorting, a form of social sorting.

This process of social sorting results in differences being created and amplified:

“Because with today's surveillance, people are divided into categories and assigned the attributes valuable or dangerous, and in a way that actually has an impact on people's chances in life. There is profound discrimination, which is why surveillance is not just a question of personal privacy, but a question of social justice. "[1]

With the advent of surveillance capitalism[2] the everyday, the previously banal, is now turned into money. In other words: the ego is being datafied in an unprecedented way and made the subject of social sorting. Building on the work of Gandy[3] and Lyon, it is important to look at surveillance beyond the mainstream debates of the libertarian criticism of violations of individual privacy. Surveillance must be placed within feminist discourse, which takes into account the various effects of surveillance and (social) discrimination on bodies, using gender, class and “race” as categories of discipline and discrimination against surveillance. Feminist research on surveillance uses the concept of intersectionality and thereby emphasizes that surveillance is not perceived as uniform, but is often directed disproportionately against bodies deviating from the norm and different. In her groundbreaking work Dark Matters Simone Browne urges us to expose the concept of surveillance and see it not as “a form of neutral observation”, but alternatively as “the disclosure of the inequalities between those who are observed and those who observe”.[4] In addition, feminists equate the term surveillance with the “male gaze”, which results in the dehumanization and control of the viewed object. This very sensible approach provides an explanation for the control inherent in all surveillance systems.

Social sorting presupposes differences

Social sorting presupposes differences; in this sense, it condenses existing differences in society and preserves the status quo. The most recent example of this is Amazon's recruiting algorithm, which reproduced gender-specific patterns of attitudes using a collection of pre-existing records; H. to a work environment in which women were already underrepresented and created “beneficial” profiles on this flawed basis. This made gender an indicator of employability; the social sorting reflected the status quo, which in turn is the result of systematic sexism and patriarchal barriers in the MINT area.

Surveillance is about power

Surveillance is about power: who has the power to collect information, create categories, and sort out social realities? Law enforcement agencies are involved in surveillance and sorting in the form of ethnic and racial profiling. The power to declare certain areas as unsafe and therefore in need of monitoring often plays a decisive role. An example: One of the most important demands of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a civil rights movement from Pakistan's tribal areas under federal administration (Federally Administered Tribal Areas, FATA), is the restructuring of the so-called "security checkpoints": the PTM has these checkpoints as Identified places where the state exercises arbitrary and discriminatory power every day. Routinely, the Pashtun bodies and identities are subjected to humiliating and abusive control and search practices based on ethnic and racial profiling. It is alarming that these everyday surveillance experiences have been objectified with the introduction of so-called Safe Cities projects across the country - urban spaces are now equipped with surveillance cameras; with the result that data is collected and patterns of discrimination are reproduced.[5] With the help of these surveillance technologies in urban areas, non-categorizable bodies in cities are actively identified from a gender and class perspective as deviating from the norm and therefore dangerous. For example, homeless people and prostitutes were forced to avoid the surveillance points created as part of the Safe Cities project or to limit their whereabouts to areas not covered by the cameras. Safety is thus defined at the expense of bodies that do not conform to the norm.

Monitoring the "other"

Transgender bodies challenge the strictly binary logic of the male gaze and are therefore exposed to increased surveillance. In Pakistan the community is the khwajasara (which roughly corresponds to the western understanding of transgender) have come into the focus of the state in recent years.[6] The turning point came in 2009 when the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled that individuals who identified themselves as khwajasara should be given a machine-readable identity card and a third column should be added to the gender category. This step towards more rights for this community, however, also moved them into the state's surveillance framework in a more formalized way. With the datafication of transgender bodies, their identities were objectified as “other” in the third column. It is true that there are some advantages to being issued with ID cards - the option of applying for a passport, working in the public sector, getting a mobile phone SIM card, receiving financial support from government aid programs - but at the same time it ensures for people to find themselves in categories and databases that were constructed not only to monitor their activities, but also to restrict their identities by robbing them of their existing, flowing character. In a number of legal systems, the recognition of transgender identities has so far not been accompanied by the entry of their gender identity in official documents. For the system, gender identities are still firmly defined parameters. If a Pakistani transgender person wants to have their gender changed on official documents, they must meet conditions that require a connection to a traditional family structure: for example, bring a male family member with them. However, this cannot be fulfilled by most transgender people due to their gender identity, as this usually leads to a separation from the family.

Social sorting has a long tradition

The social sorting ensures that gender is restricted to existing categories and the strictly binary system. At the same time, it brands unknown / non-categorizable gender identities as “deviating from the norm” and “different”. These control processes, which defame the unknown as something different, are not of a purely technical nature, but rather are based on a history of brutal oppression. In his publication The Census, Social Structure and Objectification in South Asia Bernard S. Cohn describes in detail that the census in colonial times played a decisive role in the “process of classifying and objectifying Indian culture and society for the Indians”.[7] This sorting was accompanied by the creation of "castes" and "tribes" in colonial India, these being classified as either warring races or criminal tribes. So did he Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, not only identified different groups of criminals, but also laid the foundations for their registration, monitoring and control. The monitoring took place in the form of a registration with the judges * who settled at the district level and in the form of a passport system, on the basis of which the members of the named "criminal" castes / tribes had to acquire a passport in order to be able to leave their village.[8] So monitoring individuals with the help of technology is not entirely new. Rather, the observation and monitoring of "deviants" through the systematic collection of "objective data" has always been a powerful instrument for exercising control.

Women always experience surveillance

In conclusion, it can be stated that surveillance determines the lived experience of women both inside and outside their own four walls. In the South Asian context, Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan and Shilpa Ranade describe in Why Loiter the surveillance experienced by female bodies in urban spaces.[9] Female and queer bodies are exposed to surveillance in public spaces. Their visibility forces them to constantly justify their presence and makes it difficult for them to experience this space as a pleasant place. At home too, women are monitored at the behest of the family; their behavior is controlled and control exercised over their bodies to ensure compliance with gender norms. The technical possibilities and the datafication of the ego have opened up new places in which surveillance is reproduced through the control of personal devices and online accounts, both at the individual level by the family and through systematic processes emanating from the state and private companies.



[1] Lyon, p. 1, own translation from English.

[2] Shoshana Zuboff, "Big other: surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization", Journal of Information Technology, 2015, pp. 75-89.

[3] Oscar Gandy, “The Panoptic Sort: A Political Economy of Personal Information. Critical Studies in Communication and in the Cultural Industries ”, Westview Press, 1993.

[4] Simone Browne, "Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness", Duke University Press Books, 2015, pp. 18, 21.

[6] This note is not intended to suppress the decades of surveillance, control and harassment by state actors in informal spaces and the activities of the community.

[7] Bernard S. Cohn, "The Census, Social Structure and Objectification in South Asia", Anthropologist among the Historians, P. 250, own translation from English.

[8] Rachel J. Tolen, "Colonizing and Transforming the Criminal Tribesman: The Salvation Army in British India", American Ethnologist, Volume 18, No. 1, 1991, p. 107.

[9] Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan and Shilpa Ranade, "Why Loiter ?: Women And Risk On Mumbai Streets", Penguin Books, 2011.