Cyborg Feminism




New medical and consumer technologies seem to be bringing us closer and closer to a future populated by androids and cyborgs. But what if we have always been cyborg? Technology theorists provide us with rich examples of the ways in which human bodies have always been augmented by technologies – and therefore always more than human. Cyborg feminists insist that this comes with ethical risks and opportunities: it might make it easier to exploit other people, but it might also provide us with the tools to create better, more pleasurable, and more equitable futures. Join Dr. Danya Glabau to peer into the past, consider the present, and imagine the future of our cyborg societies.



Donna Haraway’s 1985 ‘Manifesto for Cyborgs’ is a landmark essay for what is often termed ‘cyberfeminism’, the postgender, post-Western, post-Marxist, post-Oedipal expression of feminism in our day. Rather than an extension of the feminist political project of gaining power for women equal to men, it argues against the very category of women as essentially different from men. With respect to human nature, Haraway, like Foucault, is constructivist rather than an essentialist. She expresses her manifesto for constructivism as a means of escaping the varied traditional mythologies of the West (and we might observe through every human culture). Like zombies, but without the negative connotations, cyborgs lie in the boundary between organic life and the machine world. A biologist by training as well as a literary theorist, Haraway embraces the destruction of the conceptual boundaries been human and animal, organism and machine, and the physical and non-physical world in the post-WWII technical-scientific establishment. Thereby she announces one of the challenges of our age largely ignored by Christian theologians. Our contemporary age, while thoroughly Gnostic in accordance with its Cartesian beginnings, is nonetheless also entirely deterministic and utilitarian in the way it regards human nature and the human body. Progress is measured by the transgression of all limitations to the exercise of the human will, with the sole exception of the flimsy ethical notion of consent. The result is the total domination of our making over our being as humans. And along with the loss of human nature, there is a consequent loss of the capacity to reason about it. For me, the modern technological university, in accepting these goals as its own, not only sacrifices human dignity, but also the very possibility of the knowledge of transcendental beauty, truth, and goodness.