Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Subvert Command and Control (option 2)

Even by setting the numerous spelling errors aside, this passage does not get any easier. As I struggled to read the 30 pages of this article, I began to day dream about robots. I wished I had one that could read the paper and explain to me, in every-day language, what Haraway was trying to say. Unfortunately, this type of device is not out yet, and until it is, I will try my best to explain.

“The phallogocentrie origin stories most crucial for feminist cyborgs are built into the literal technologies - teehnologies that write the world, biotechnology and microelectronics - that have recently textualized our bodies as code problems on the grid of C3I. Feminist cyborg stories have the task of recoding communication and intelligence to subvert command and control.” (Haraway, 175)

If you are like me, you might think this is a video game narrator talking to a nerdy gamer about how to save the planet; subvert command and control, cyborgs and C3I along with technology, communication and intelligence. What does all this mean? Great question.

Before we get into explaining what these sentences mean, we must first understand what Haraway’s background is. She earned a degree in Zoology and Philosophy, studied philosophies of evolution, earned a Ph. D. from the Biology Department of Yale and wrote her dissertation on the functions of metaphor in shaping research in developmental biology in the twentieth century.

Just having that knowledge helped me understand why Haraway is quick to relate her ‘feministic’ ideas to cyborgs and the fact that she can use this relationship. Haraway uses the metaphor of cyborg identity to expose ways that things considered natural, like human bodies, are not, but are constructed by our ideas about them. This has particular relevance to feminism, since women are often discussed or treated in ways that reduce them to bodies.

Now that we have some kind of understanding of how Haraway relates her ideas to cyborgs, let’s try and explain this passage.

The phallogocentri[c] origin stories, what are they? What I found when trying to research this topic is that women are defined only in terms of their relation to men, only in terms of what they lack. The base word phallus refers to the fact that the masculine is the only source of validity and authority, the central point of reference.

Feminist cyborg literally means a hybrid advocate for equality for women. Relating to the rest of that sentence, Haraway is trying to say that women need to help themselves relate to the changing world. The stories that have always been around, saying men are more superior to women are being encrypted into the hard-drive of every male. “They have recently textualized our bodies as code problems on the grid of C3I.” She is saying that women are just going to be one more piece of data and one more problem to solve if they do not step up and starting solving their own problems and creating their own data. C3I, command-control-communication-intelligence, was an $84 billion item in the US defense budget. It would be a major step if the feministic movement could understand and take control of something like C3I. Look at the powerful words in that sentence: Command, Control, Communication, and Intelligence.

The last sentence is relatively simple. Haraway states pretty clearly that you can write your own destiny. It is time for women to take charge of their lives and the lives around them and stand up for future generations. Demand and earn equality and power will begin to move from the all-powerful male to the rising-in-power female.

Haraway uses this language to emphasize her point. If she speaks and writes in everyday language, what respect is she demanding? By writing in this fancy shmancy mumbo jumbo, she is showing her intelligence and proving that she is in control of her own life. She also shows that she understands where the opposing party is coming from, which is respectful. This is another sign of her intelligence because after all, it is always easier to make change when respect is shown to your enemy.

Sam Luffy

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

The spelling errors are scanning/digitizing errors, which helps explain them. Funny line about robots, by the way.

You should have cited your (flawed, if only because so incomplete) information on Haraway's background. When you do research, you *need* to cite it. Again, you should have cited your source re: "phallogocentric"

"Feminist cyborg literally means a hybrid advocate for equality for women." Really? Why didn't you explain this?

Short version: You get a very slow start, and you picked a perhaps unnecessarily long passage. Your discussion of her terms is quite good, and detailed. Your last paragraph is a dismissal of Haraway, not an engagement with her, though - you aren't thinking things through at all. I'm not saying that you need to like Haraway - but doing this particular prompt demanded taking her seriously, and assuming that her difficulty has some sort of real reason behind it. This still isn't exactly bad work - you handle her terminology well - but you're ignoring the most interesting part of the prompt.