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A post-gender world?

Anne Dalke's picture

According to Kathryn Vogel in the MIT course on Gender and Technology,

Haraway defines a cyborg as: 

"a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity. In a sense, the cyborg has no origin in the Western sense -- a 'final' irony since the cyborg is also the awful apocalyptic telos of the 'West's' escalating dominations of abstract individuation, an ultimate self untied at last from all dependency,"

I do not feel that the monster necessarily lives in a post gender world.  When Victor was about to create his partner, Victor was creating a specifically female partner.  Victor even worried about the two creations mating and bringing more of their kind into the world.  This action implies that the current monster has a phallus and the new monster would have child bearing capabilities.  These capabilities imply that each monster is still very much so gendered.  

... I feel that Shelley's text is a comment on technology and altering the human body.  I think her text is a warning to think about not only whether we can create a new technology, but also if we should utilize this new technology.... Before utilizing new technology, we must think about the implications and how people affected by this technology will be treated




vgaffney's picture

The creature's gendered world

I agree that Frankenstein’s creature does not exist in a post-gender world, and is thus, not a cyborg.  I also agree that it’s important to keep in mind that it is a female that the creature requests for companionship. I think it’s interesting that the creature is specifically gendered male in the novel—which resonates the with Prometheus tale. The creature starts out alone and acquires knowledge about the world independently. However, because the creature is positioned in the actual world—the world of Frankenstein—it’s impossible for him to be in a post-gendered world. However outcast he may be, he is subject to his time and environment. His decision to request a female companion seems the most natural thing for him to do given the exposure he has had to human society. The creature’s desire to be more human-like, usage of gender binaries, and acquisition of human traits push against the cyborgian reading.


shin1068111's picture

Who is responsible?

When we were discussing about the book on Wednesday, I was talking about the responsibility that scientists have as a potential inventor of new technology. It was discussed in the text that all Victor wanted to do is figuring out about death and life and creating a beautiful form of life from something inanimate, but his experiment ended up in a complete disaster. Therefore, we could interpret the text as a warning to think about creating new technology, which could possibly bring disastrous outcomes.

I do agree with the post that we must think about the implications and how people affected by this technology will be treated before utilizing new technology. However, I think that the question should be addressed is who are the ones responsible for thinking about the implications and how people will be affected. I personally think it is the responsibility of the inventor, in this case, Victor, to deeply ponder about the possible dangers that could be associated with one’s project. If Victor had deeply thought about possible dangers associated with his first creation as he did when he was creating the female form of creature, then none of this disastrous outcomes would have occurred.

rubikscube's picture


I agree that the monster cannot be considered a cyborg by Haraway's definition because of the post-gender world. Outside of the monster himself and his incomplete female companion, he seemed to be very much aware of the gender of others. He admired the physical characteristics of Felix and also the contrast of those of the sister Agatha. The monster also talks about the beauty of the picture of William's mother in the locket, and he describes her physical features which he finds attractive. Another part of Haraway's definition says a cyborg has no seductions to organic wholeness. Before the monster see his reflection in the pool, he comments on how he admired the "perfect forms" of the cottagers. This makes me think that the monster did have a desire to have that organic wholeness. Although he was created entirely from human parts, it was the science and technology that went behind his creation that prevented him from being truly organic.

Amophrast's picture

During the second part of our

During the second part of our first set of panels (1.2?) kgould represented Major Motoko Kusanagi, and talked about gender as something kind of... fluid, or irrelevant. The Major could take on a male or female gender. Kgould also identified the Major as a cyborg...but Haraway seems to think otherwise, saying that cyborgs have "no truck with bisexuality" (I'm assuming she means the binary system/the idea of two sexes). So the ability to flip between two sexes does not make one "post-gendered." A destruction of binaries/categories is required for this, as Haraway reminds us more or less often. So what do we call these creatures, seemingly cyborgs but not quite? quasi-cyborgs? cy-halves? It doesn't seem like any of us are cyborgs yet. But those who identify as genderqueer...are they getting close?
Implications of new technology, huh? Something that comes to mind is nuclear warfare...the chemicals continue to devastate in a multitude of ways. Were the effects worth the "benefits"? People don't seem to be too good at judging these sort of implications, or rather, the need to consider these implications

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