For more than 100 years, the world has celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8. In that time we have gone from a horse-and-buggy society, to a world connected by cable and fiber optics. Since we cover all things Internet here at the Daily Dot, we wanted to honor women who were paving the digital way.
And so—a list of women on the Web we admire.
In 2014 Amber Discko launched Femsplain, an online community that provides a safe space for women to share their stories with the Internet. The site was funded by Kickstarter pledges, and Amber and her team lifted women’s voices up to new heights online. They also consistently paid everyone who contributed to the site—almost unheard of in the Internet’s content factory tradition. Last year, in “honor” of International Women’s Day, Femsplain was the victim of a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) via 4chan that took the site offline for three hours. The Internet rallied around Femsplain and Amber to spread the word about the excellent community she was in the process of building, and the DDoS attack brought hundreds of thousands of eyes to the site. Amber and all the ladies of Femsplain have been a light in the darkness of online misogyny. —Rachael Berkey
If you want to understand young women on the Internet, you need to read Rachel Syme’s “Selfie.” The 2015 treatise on the selfie phenomenon took the Internet by storm with its powerful assertion that a selfie is less a display of vanity than it is a declaration that the subject deserves to be seen—and that she deserves to be the one both in front of and behind the camera. Because historically, representation has been limited to the gazes of men—male portraitists, photographers, writers, and historians. The selfie, in its unabashed confidence, is a radical act. Rachel’s essay opened my eyes to the incredible complexity of this supposedly vain exhibition. —Angela Lashbrook
Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton
What’s it like to be a young woman of color on Tinder? Why do we love Beyoncé? And why don’t white men ever get “ashy”? I first learned of BuzzFeed writers Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton through their addictive podcast Another Round with Heben and Tracy, where they discuss race, love, and pop culture over whiskey. Sometimes they’ll interview high-profile guests like Hillary Clinton or Margaret Cho, or regale childhood tales of racist Beta fish. As you listen, you’ll find yourself wanting to invite Nigatu and Clayton to happy hour with your girlfriends, then brunch with your mother, and then eventually to serve as guardians to your first-born child. As young women and people of color and Internet people, Nigatu and Clayton can sometimes serve as translators for those who don’t fit into all three of those categories. And for the people who do, they’re practically soulmates. —Amrita Khalid
You’ve seen her in movies and rapping about dongs on Saturday Night Live, but if you don’t follow Anna Kendrick on Twitter, you ain’t seen nothing yet. As someone who spends most of her professional and personal time on Twitter, I see how huge of a place it is, and how hard it is to be unique and stand out. Kendrick’s humorous commentary really breaks up the navel-gazing and nudes in my feed. In a world where women are not encouraged to be bawdy, Kendrick’s tweets make you feel like those raunchy thoughts you have, but never share, are OK.
Ugh – NEVER going to a Ryan Gosling movie in a theater again. Apparently masturbating in the back row is still considered "inappropriate"
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) January 14, 2013
From her child star turn in Mrs. Doubtfire to life as the Faceless Old Woman in Welcome to Night Vale, Mara Wilson has spent her life in the limelight, involved in incredible entertainment. But her Twitter presence is a goldmine all its own, chock-full of comedic retweets, political barbs, women’s rights, pandas, and everything in between. Wilson is proof that women can’t and shouldn’t be pigeonholed by what they do or what they’re famous for, and she’s making everyone’s feeds 10,000 times funnier while she’s at it. —Monica Riese
The women of Good Morning America
Long before my Internet days, I sat next to my mom (another inspiring woman) each morning watching GMA before school. Unlike most eight-year-olds, who admired their Barbie dolls, I admired Diane Sawyer—marveling at her grace and composure on air and aspiring to be like her one day. I continue to be inspired by the women at the GMA news desk each morning, and online 24/7. Now as a young woman in media living not far from their Times Square studio (but waking up much, much later) I gladly welcome Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer, Amy Robach, and Ginger Zee into my apartment each morning. These women represent the success that is available to young, hard-working women today. While many TV personalities appear as celebrities to their viewers, these women have not shied away from sharing their personal lives with their followers, proving that “everybody’s got something,” as Roberts says. Spencer, Robach, and Zee are proof that women don’t have to leave their fulfilling jobs to raise families, and shouldn’t feel forced to push their dreams aside to do so. Both Roberts and Robach shared their personal health battles with their viewers and continue to empower their followers who are fighting battles of their own. I may feel like I’m the fifth woman in the pack, but I don’t actually know these fabulous ladies (sadly). Thanks to social media, I feel like I do. —Melanie Price
Tiffani Ashley Bell
Tiffani Ashley Bell is building technology that’s helping to secure safe, clean drinking water for people who struggle to afford it. The entrepreneur is the co-founder and executive director of the Detroit Water Project, a nonprofit platform that matches donors with individuals who need help paying their water bills. Not only has her work helped more than 950 families in Detroit with their most basic needs, she’s also an outspoken woman in technology who frequently highlights the problems with diversity and inequality in the tech industry and the U.S. as a whole. Her nonprofit recently launched its program in Baltimore and is planning to expand to other cities, too. —Selena Larson
Ali Kamenova is my antidote to the Internet’s chaos. Each morning I greet the day with one of her yoga classes on YouTube. And while her videos are tiring workouts and unique flows that keep me energized and healthy, it’s the community she’s built with other yogis around the world that has given me a positive and calming space online. Kamenova inspires me through her powerful guides of emotional awareness and acceptance, the photos and recipes she and others share on Instagram and Facebook, and the weekly challenges of fitness and self-love that encourage us to push our boundaries and explore new or forgotten bits of ourselves.
my new fav place on the internet is a private fb yoga group that's just filled with positive energy, light, and encouragement. 💜
— Selena (@selenalarson) February 16, 2016
Through some simple doodles, Vi Hart taught me that everything is math—even mashed (mathed) potatoes. Her YouTube channel is as entertaining as it is educational. I love her stream-of-consciousness style of explaining complex topics in mathematics. Her work inspires me to be a better science writer. I also admire her candor and fearlessness not only to speak on difficult issues, like gender, but to share her own journey toward coming to understand and empathize with others. —Cynthia McKelvey
As someone who only started using face moisturizer a few years ago, and whose idea of complicated eye makeup is using more than two colors of eyeshadow and a little bit of mascara that came as a free sample, it might be surprising that a woman known for her beauty vlogs has caught my attention. Of course, Gorgeous (a.k.a. Giselle Lauren Lazzarato) is eye-catching for more than just her beauty (she’s just as stunning in person, I can attest). She’s also an inspiration for transgender and genderqueer people worldwide, documenting her transition on her YouTube channel since 2008 for her 2.1 million followers. She’s been active in Miley Cyrus’s Happy Hippie Foundation and spoken out at political and charity functions on the transgender millennial community. She’s also breaking down barriers as a spokesmodel, as Crest Canada’s face of 3D White Strips. If I’m ever ready to upgrade to eyeliner and contouring, Gorgeous is exactly where I’ll turn. —Rae Votta
Kelly Sue DeConnick
I recently signed up Bitches Get Shit Done, a text-based subscription from comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, and it might be one of the better things I’ve done for myself lately. It’s part motivation, part assurance, and part kicking your ass into gear. I can’t count how many times it’s inexplicably—and already—been eerily on point. DeConnick, who introduced a new generation of fans to Captain Marvel through Carol Danvers and writes Pretty Deadly and Bitch Planet for Image, has long been a forthright supporter of geek culture and used her own visibility as an influential voice in comics to share the spotlight with others as well as motivating the rest of us. —Michelle Jaworski