Cyborgs, Goddesses, and Identity

In an age where new technology allows for communication and self-expression in very non-physical ways, the opportunities for expanded definitions of self has increased significantly. This expansion of new ways to self-identify has allowed the femtech movement to explore the postmodern concepts of blurring lines between physical and non-physical realities. Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto” describes the odd interplay between pleasure and responsibility within the complicated cultural boundaries which are built in a heteronormative society. Haraway sees the cyborg identity as the perfect escape from these boundaries as it allows persons to be identified not by their physical bodies, but for a non-physical, non-natural self-constructed identity. Haraway argues for a cyborg reality which transcends the natural physical boundaries of our bodies. This is key as the body’s physical state is labeled at birth by the established social constructs of the people surrounding it. With new technologies. The physicality of our body no longer limits our world experience as we can communicate and explore the non-physical realms of technology. Haraway sees this as a liberation from the natural boundaries that limit the feminist movement.

However, Jasbir Puar’s article, “I Would Rather Be a Cyborg Than a Goddess,” argues that this intersectional proposal, in fact, reinforces the instability in the face of the heteronormative constructed boundaries. Puar argues that limiting people to just the Cyborg experience without fully flushing out the experiences and limitations within each sub groups weakens intersectionalitiy’s ability to reach the whole of the feminist movement. Puar then compares this cyborg manifesto to that of the goddess movement. Goddesses represent the feminist idea of reclaiming their natural identities and owning them as a strength of their identities. Puar calls for a balance between the two theoretical structures, both to be proud of your physical identity while also transcending the limits placed upon it. This allows you to see yourself as more individualized than the labels placed upon you, but not completely disowning the groups from which you come from.

Scannell takes these ideas even further in the work, “Both a Cyborg and a Goddess: Deep Managerial Time and Informatic Governance.” In these writings, Scannell outlines the problems with datalogic in context with the writings of Haraway and Puar. This particular reading was much more difficult to understand as it referenced several technical terms and theoretical constructs which I had not been familiar with before. Yet the breakdown Scannell gives off the other writings was very informative.

I think this view is more realistic and healthy. As we discussed last week with the VJ Um Amel research, humans are complex creatures with multifaceted identities, at any given time being more than one identity.


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