Week 6 Too Close to see: men, women and webcams (2003)

In this article Michele (2003) addresses questions related to the use of live Webcams on internet. She examines different ways of how this interactivity is played out, especially with focus on women as Operators of webcams and the male audience as Spectators.

 White is interested in this new trends of internet and webcam-use because “studying these developments is imperative in order to understand the ways in which authority is mediated through empowered looking, submission, and even controlling visibility” (Michele White, p.8)

 On one side White present a negative image of how women can be seen as victims of the male gaze and voyeurism:

“The sleeping Jenni lies utterly exposed. She has let here defence slide. She has allowed me, a stranger, into her bedroom. Now she is powerless against my prying gaze. She isn’t even aware of my presence. She just lays there, passive and vulnerable. This body, this image, could be anyone’s for the taking.” (White refers to Steven Shaviro 1999)

Another negative picture is given by White when she show how some women take advantage of the Gaze themselves like Cam-girls: “The cam girl label suggest to spectators that women will respond to monetary rewards with personal favours, always be visibly available on the webcam” (White refers to Cydniey 2002) This phenomenon of Cam-girls has given the Webcam medium a bad reputation according to White.


White advocates a positive approach to the medium. She see the positive trend of women taking control of the situation between spectator and webcam-operator: “Webcam spectators may have less control than they expect because women webcam operators exert authority and achieve agency through their visibility” (White, p.7) She gives an example by Sindy(2001)on how some webcam operators set the rules of behaviour and refuse to do anything on demand: “I am not your virtual puppet […].I will not smile to you” ( p16)

But White also show how the medium is about more than the gaze and voyeurism. She sees that how the webcam-medium creates a possibility for women to be creative and explore Digital-technology. Further she explain how women as webcam-operators inspires each other: “Women webcam operators are much more likely to mention women than men when discussing what inspired them to start up a webcam” (White, p 18)   




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