One of the sites I am starting to create is a womyn-born lesbian feminist social network. More than a dating site — though it could be used for that — it would be a place for lesbians to meet other actual lesbians, for friendship, for organizing, or for simple relief from our growing isolation.
There are several challenges here.
The first one is to protect it from ddos and hacking, which I know I can only do imperfectly, and so I have to make plans for resilient failure, too. This isn’t much different from the challenges online commerce sites face, and so I can secure the site as if it were processing credit cards, minus the credit cards and the processing.
The second challenge is keeping the site free of trans activists and their handmaidens, as well as free of “sex positive” fun/faux feminists. I have several ideas how I can go about this. I will probably use, in some manner or another, all of these ideas, so that someone who slips past one filter would be caught by another. One of my ideas, though, involves the participation of the broader community as gatekeeper. For this reason I want to get input and suggestions from readers before I implement some version of it.
The idea is this:
In order to register at the site, you would need a token — a tiny bit of code, just like a password. Initially I’d personally send out tokens to known lesbian feminists.
When a woman registers for the first time, she would be given three more tokens (that number is flexible), to distribute to other women she knows to her satisfaction to be (genuine, non-male) lesbian feminists. She will be encouraged (but not required) to write down on paper who she gives her tokens to, but she should not send her records to me nor let me know that she has written anything down unless I ask for it. Nor should she put this information online anywhere (not even on Dropbox), nor keep it on any mobile device, unless she can encrypt it first with military grade encryption. Keeping a partial scattered record of women’s identities this way gives us records enough to trace problems, but does not create a reliable centralized database that can be stolen by hackers or subpoenaed by litigious trans activists.
Anyone who doesn’t have much of an online footprint, or who I miss in the initial mailings, could also contact me directly and make her case for a token.
The point of the scheme is to distribute the decision-making about who is a radical lesbian feminist, as well as to take advantage of the mathematics of exponential functions to blanket the lesbian community with tokens. I still expect some trans activists will wiggle through, and I expect an even greater number of pomo queer pro-porn lesbians to slip past community screening.
I have more ways planned to filter out the men, ways I can’t talk about on the open Internet. I hope to make such incursions rare, temporary, and perhaps painful for the intruders.
I’m less concerned about the queer-identified women. Who they are will become obvious. If they don’t invite in their faux-female friends, or try to endlessly argue that penises are female too, or use the site to solicit or promote BDSM or porn or other misogynistic things, they can stay. In fact I hope the site begins to attract apolitical and queer-influenced lesbians whose only real reason to be there is to use it as a trans-free dating site. In doing so they will be exposed to feminist ideas they probably have never heard of before, except perhaps as the grossly distorted parodies of feminism we are accused of believing by anti-feminist men. The more they are exposed to us, the less appealing the brutally misogynistic trans/queer subculture will appear to be.
I do not want to become the Supreme Forever Dictator of Internet Dykespace. To construct a social network, I must necessarily craft the site as if I were its dictator. I can’t imagine what php coding by the consensus of a political collective would look like (in fact now that I’ve generated that very bad bit of imagination, I think I’ve made myself more geek nightmare fuel). But no one whose list of doctors includes an oncologist has any business making Forever plans. Dictatorship even under the best of circumstances does not work out well for the dictated to. Historically the survival of lesbian institutions has depended on how well they transitioned from being their founder’s baby to becoming a community resource.
I’m open to any ideas as to how to gracefully hand over ownership and control of a site to its members. While you are brainstorming, keep in mind that it must be a non-profit private membership organization. If it were to take the form of a for-profit business, it could, and probably would, be forced to admit men.