By Emily Ann
Omegle is not a feminist of color space. In my experience, Omegle has proven to be a male dominated space that, with few exceptions, is unfriendly to the feminist woman. It is not an intellectual space; the conversations among users of Omegle tend to be short and shallow rather than long and thought-provoking. It is a space where people go to engage in sexual, nonfeminist activity online, or where bored teenagers go to procrastinate doing their homework. A sexual feminist space is one where women can express their sexuality freely, without fear of judgment or discrimination of feminist discourse, something that Omegle, as an online space, does not provide.
In thinking about Tumblr, which is said to be neither a nonfeminist nor a feminist site, I feel that Omegle, too, has the potential to be neither or both, as it is such an open discussion space with an ever-changing, ever-flowing user environment. Omegle has the potential to be more of a feminist space with the addition of a certain aspect of censorship to the site. Were Omegle to come up with a female-only version of its site, where females go to discuss their thoughts and ideas of the world in a more regulated environment, the space could be more open to intellectual feminist discourse. The architecture of Omegle as an open chat room, however, hinders the capacity for Omegle to exist as a post-structural feminist forum. The anonymity associated with Omegle allows for the uncivilized, offensive behavior associated with the space.
As a feminist, I could, in theory, voice these thoughts on Omegle, taking the risk of being shut down dozens of times before coming across a user with whom I can build a relationship (albeit somewhat shallow) and receive feedback regarding my thoughts. Omegle is not a site of trustworthy users; at any time, one could terminate the conversation, leaving me alone in the virtual world, searching for another user to interact with. I found that in order for me to bring up such an analytical idea and build a conversation off of it, I have to build a relationship with each stranger I talk to and get a feel for what kind of wording I should use and how I should go about presenting the argument or stance I have. For instance, I “befriended” a 20-year-old male and had about a 15 minute conversation with him. Throughout the conversation, I never directly stated that Omegle is not a safe space for feminist women online, but I hinted at the idea by asking him questions like whether or not he “wanted to get my pants off,” to which he responded no, he “just wanted a companion.” This conversation, the entirety of which is on my Tumblr, was the closest I got to discussing the safeness of Omegle as an online platform. In other experiences, when I asked the question “Do you think that Omegle is a safe space for women?” I merely received “yes” or “no” answers, followed by the Stranger subsequently leaving our conversation. These experiences, however, further prove my point that Omegle is not a feminist of color space. The fact that users often dismissed me when I spoke my mind or presented a question like that only shows how uninterested the majority of Omegle users are in engaging in such relatively intellectual dialogue.