Thursday, April 07, 2011

Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls: Feminism, Popular Culture and the Posthuman Body by Kim Toffoletti

(Unfinished @ ~ 30%)
This book wasn’t what I thought it would be, or perhaps it is better to say it isn’t what I had hoped it would be. I thought it would explore how new technologies are leading to different types of humans and ways of being in the world, and how that would relate to feminism and popular culture. I thought it would probably look a lot at enhancement as it relates to beauty and perhaps even robots as surrogates for sexual desire. I was wrong as evident by this sentence:
“Although this book takes as its starting point images of the posthuman – representations that depict the fusion of the organic and the informational – its primary concern is with posthuman images." (p.31)
Further, the work, admittedly more academic in nature, seemed to use the stereotypical post-modern language style that I do not find appealing. There seem to be useful points within the book, but I was frequently frustrated by how things were phrased. For example, “We find that the ambiguity arising from technologies that collapse the distinctions between nature and artifice, mind and body, organism and machine, offers the potential for new forms of subjectivity beyond oppositional frameworks.”
I think I agree with that statement, as I dislike dichotomies because they are usually false, and I do not see much validity in essentialism. Consequently, evaluating how things come together, how we categorize and what that means for our experiences is fine with me.
Alternatively, I was hostile to some stances taken on the nature of science (a biased, male enterprise that isn’t objective) and found it very odd that some authors argue that women are associated more with “the body,” “nature,” and “irrationality.” Exactly the type of absurd statements that I hear about second hand but don’t usually read. I will admit science is mainly done by men and it isn’t as objective as it would like to be… but it is more than any other area of study.
So… given that the content and style were not jiving, I took a loss. Perhaps a more patient, future Darren will revisit this work. Present Darren cannot recommend it.


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