Monday, March 2, 2009

On Cyborg Feminism: Gender and Laser Vision

For the second time in a row, we believe we've met our match with yet another subject so asinine that even Learned Men can't comprehend it. -Klint

Patrick: Klint, I hope you've been well. I've had a remarkably boring couple of days to myself. I have fully understood all the concepts presented to me and felt challenged by nothing. I was hoping you could hit me off with a brain-buster to make me feel whole again.
Klint: I've been quite well. A largely uneventful weekend, but sometimes that's alright. And good thing you asked, because I'm about to drop a megaton of phony academia on you. Have you ever heard of Cyborg Feminism?
Patrick: I'm sorry, say again?
Klint: Cyborg Feminism. Sounds as if they'd go together like nuts and gum. But, Donna Haraway wrote an essay entitled "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century" which attempts bring the two together.
Patrick: Well, I have to confess this is an idea I don't understand at all. You've met my challenge head-on. Let's learn!
Klint: Here's a good place to start, since Wikipedia isn't thorough enough this time.
Patrick: Klint, I want you to be honest with me. Can I rely on you to answer me straight?
Klint: Patrick, how long have we known each other? Of course.
Patrick: Do I have brain damage?
Klint: No, but I think Donna might have suffered some before they turned her into the Robocop of the women's studies department.
Patrick: The page you just sent me, aside from the sexy tie-dye anime girl, is straight-up gobbledygook. It made less sense to me than Mormonism. Am I losing my brainpower? Like Professor Klump in The Nutty Professor 2?
Klint: No, it just really is this stupid. Try this and this.
Patrick: You know what the worst part of this is? This nonsense sucks all the joy out of both cyborgs and women. Prior to reading this, I thought cyborgs were awesome and women were my equals. Now... I'm all mixed up.
Klint: I am, too. The cyborgs she speaks of have nothing really cool going on about them.
Patrick: This sort of lifted my spirits. I felt a lot better about cyborgs after watching that, but am still feeling a little betrayed by women.
Klint: Well, the idea she's trying to express is that there's nothing basic that women all have in common just because they're women. The cyborg part is just in there to make her ideas seem novel. You really need to try and get the idea of T-1000s and anime sex robots out of your mind. And I thought women were my equals, too. But apparently they should also swear no allegiance to each other and have robot legs.
Patrick: I've been saying that for a long time. Does this woman want a cookie for suggesting the obvious?
Klint: I think she wants tenure.
Patrick: So are we sure this has nothing to do with actual legitimate awesome cyborgs?
Klint: I'm sure. No eye lasers, no guns instead of arms, or anything else appealing. It's just using the combination of organic and inorganic life as the root of a poorly developed social commentary.
Patrick: I'm tripping balls. This shit is like trying to do a Magic Eye while battling a migraine.
Klint: Check out some of her other essay titles: Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields: Metaphors of Organicism in Twentieth-Century Developmental Biology, Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science and Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature
Patrick: Was Inspector Gadget a robot or a cyborg?
Klint: I think a cyborg, since he had a daughter. Or was she a niece?
Patrick: Niece, I think. How do you think she felt about Cyborg Feminism?
Klint: I don't know if she was a liberated woman or not.
Klint: Slightly related question from a reader: Ben Brennan seems to be convinced that if people had sex with robots, it would be the downfall of humanity. How do you think this relates to Cyborg Feminism, and what are your feelings on it?
Patrick: What constitutes a robot? or a cyborg for that matter? I mean, if a woman gets her vagina tightened or her breasts lifted, that's not cyborgism right? Does there have to be an artificial component left in the body? And if so, does it have to be functional? Are breast implants the first part of being a cyborg? And if so, can I suggest that cyborgs are every bit as awesome as I always believed? And if you masturbate with prosthetic hand, is that having sex with a robot?
Klint: Well, Haraway defines cyborgs as, among other things, a "hybrid of machine and organism." So I think plastic surgery and/or breast implants would not qualify as cyborg. And to clarify, I think a robot lacks any sort of organic component.
Patrick: So if the breast implants had a lever, pulley, or wedge they would move someone towards being a cyborg? Those are machines.
Klint: You could probably sell that on a technicality. I'd rather make the breasts run Linux. Here's a section of the actual "Cyborg Manifesto." You can tell by the illustration that her ideas are very serious and academic.
Patrick: Oh fuck. Ok, I am starting to grasp that this is irony and purely rhetorical to further a point, but even with that in mind: What the fuck is going on here? It's unreadable! I feel like you gave me a link in Farsi with disappearing ink.
Klint: It's a pile of garbage. I don't understand what motivated her to choose the cyborg as her metaphor, either. Pick a concept that the academic community respects. As it stands, this appeals more to a World of Warcraft player than her supposed peers at university.
Patrick: There was an old bum in my town for years during my youth and he would stumble around yelling at people and breaking into storefronts. I feel like he made a fuck lot more sense than this gibberish.
Klint: That's probably true. And I'm sure his drunken ramblings about the end days were more relevant, too.
Patrick: Holy shit.
Klint: Breakthrough?
Patrick: Breakthrough.
Patrick: Did you know Angelina Jolie was in Cyborg 2?
Klint: I didn't even know there was a Cyborg 2. According to the trailer, she's also made for making love. A sexually liberated robot/woman hybrid is a feminist cyborg, I guess?
Patrick: Case closed. Thanks, crazy old lady, for introducing us to this dynamic idea. Cyborg feminism. Awesome.
Klint: I think I actually know less about this than when we started. Perfect place to stop. Thanks Donna, thanks Patrick. Fuck.
Patrick: Peace out, mean old lady. The only literature we need is Cyborg 2's closed caption option on it's multiregion DVD.


  1. This is equally as mind boggling to me. But it does remind me slightly of the Janelle Monae record, which is about a woman robot falling in love with a human.

  2. I tried reading that section of the Cyborg Manifesto, but after a few sentences my vision went gray and I got extreme vertigo.

    Donna Haraway seems really fucking reputable, I'd bet my online college degree on it

  3. Hey man- credit where credit is due, Donna Haraway is my baby.