Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog 5 Essay #1

Julia Carpey

Prof. Adam Johns

Narrative and Technology ENGLT

23 February 2012

Before we delve into the debate of how Molly is the epitomized character to Haraway’s perspective of feminism as it pertains to society, we must first establish what it is that Haraway is arguing in the first place. Essentially, in his essay, Haraway is rebelling against the western notion of female equivocation with nature. Rather than lining the woman up with a goddess, Haraway states that the female gender is beginning to equivocate itself with the male gender in many ways. The lines between genders are blurring, the boundaries previously established by gender roles are breaking down and women and men are arriving on a more even playing field. This equalization is led, in Haraway’s argument, by the establishment of cyborgs. With the robotics of these entities playing a larger, more prominent role than the gender, the concept of gender roles within cyborgs falls by the wayside. Thus, without cyborgs, Haraway argues in context of Neuromancer, gender social equality would not be as feasible, or at least more difficult to attain. Haraway essentially states, “the cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world, it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour…” (150).

One can argue that in our society, in our reality, without cyborgs we are working towards gender equality. While we are working towards it, there are many strides waiting to be taken and many obstacles necessary to overcome before this is even remotely the case as much as it is in Neuromancer. To start, we are continuously reminded that Molly is clearly of petite stature, society’s reaction to her as she struts down the street is obviously that of fear as they clear a path for her. This is simply because of their knowledge of her physical composition threatening those around her. Which leads us to wonder whether the blurring of lines in her society between genders is really genders blurring the lines, or the physical composition of individuals regardless of gender identity which blurs the line. Or are they one in the same? Additionally, rather than playing into our society’s gender roles of having the man take the woman out to a meal for the date, Molly exemplifies the reconstructed social norms in her society as she takes Case out to eat, wining and dining him rather than the other way around. She is a representation of the cyborg’s impact on her reality and society.

However, it wasn’t always this way, as she had to buy these parts and have them physically constructed in order for her to have this appearance, physically, emotionally and mentally to the rest of society. One can also argue in relation to this, that the fact of her prostitution only forces her to take steps backwards and regress in the fight for gender equality. She played into the role of taking advantage of her gender and sexuality in order to get what she ultimately wanted in the end, something that is widely debated in our society. On one hand, the woman knows exactly what she is doing and is using what she has to her advantage while she can. However, on the other hand, in many situations it is not the woman’s choice to be a prostitute and is only supporting the patriarchal objectification that has so evidently inhibited certain strides from being made socially towards gender equality.

So while Molly is a representation of a female cyborg blurring the lines between gender in her reality of a society, she is also an apt representation of the questions we must constantly ask ourselves regardless of what reality of a society we live in: Is there a line, and what is it, that we must teeter in order to preserve our the dignity of our individuality and in turn the community which we are representing and that which is aiming to progress? And at what cost do we cross that line? Is crossing that line necessary for true progression? In other words, do we need to be controversial in relation to what our goals represent, and do something shocking to wake people up, make them pay attention, and in turn, ultimately make true social progression?


Amy Friedenberger said...

You've really started something with a clear argument that you want to make throughout your essay. It's good that you reinforce it throughout, such as the role of cyborgs in a postgender world -- not just extrapolating without tying it together.

I think I just really wanted a clarification of what you're arguing about Molly: Are you saying that a postgender world has not been achieved? Because you made a convincing argument that she doesn't assume gender roles. But then again, you might have to bring in Case or a man if you want to show that, overall, it's not a postgender world. I hope that wasn't too confusing.

Adam said...

I like your emphasis on Haraway's critique of woman-as-nature/natural. It's a good approach, although what exactly you intend to do with that starting point is pretty unclear at the start.

I like this sentence "Molly exemplifies the reconstructed social norms in her society," although I found the paragraph as a whole lacking in direction. One question I have is: do you really find norms to be reconstructed here? Or have they been eliminated entirely, or recapitulated (that is, the man and woman have changed places, but the roles remain essentially unchaged). Through the second paragraph I think you're asking good questions, but not seemingly working very hard, at least not yet, at answering them - which a revision would need to be concerned with.

This tendency - to ask good questions, but not even try to answer them - also characterizes your conclusion.

Haraway is difficulty, and dealing with her simply through questions has some justification. But this would work better for me if you restricted the number of questions and at least worked toward answers, in particular through using both texts: your vagueness throughout is paired with your lack of engagement with details of any text.