“Feminist cyborg stories have the task of recoding communication and intelligence to subvert command and control” (Haraway).
If the character of Molly from William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer can be summarized in one quote, it is the one listed above. The quote, taken from Donna Haraway’s, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”, can be read in conjunction with Gibson to reveal the deeper meaning within her character: as a physical embodiment of the future of Feminism. She is introduced to the reader as a futuristic bounty hunter, capturing Chase, an experienced criminal, with seeming ease. Exclaiming that she, ““hurt people sometimes, Case. I guess it’s just the way I’m wired””, with a gun to his face, Molly is immediately portrayed by Gibson as an empowered individual (25 Gibson). Immediately, she is portrayed to the reader as a woman capable and willing to, “subvert command and control” (Haraway). Her willingness to engage in roles typically thought of as masculine is further demonstrated through Molly’s physical appearance.
In the same scene discussed above, it is revealed to the reader that Molly has received body-altering surgery. As she kidnapped Chase, “and with a barely audible click, ten double-edged, four centimeter scalpel blades slid from their housings beneath the burgundy nails” (25 Gibson). By creating a female character that is both willing to engage in violence, and to mutate her own physical appearance, Gibson has made Molly perfectly illustrate Haraway’s idea that, “the new technologies affect the social relations of both sexuality and reproduction, and not always in the same ways” (Haraway). Molly is certainly made-out to be physically attractive to men, but this attractiveness, this feminine sexuality, is attacked by her willingness to sacrifice it in favor of more masculine technological additions. Her, “social relations”, are therefore modified by these technologies to be less traditionally feminine (Haraway). It is here that the reader recognizes yet another connection, perhaps the most telling, between Gibson’s Molly and Haraway’s vision of the future of feminism.
Despite her betrayal of all one could consider “traditionally” feminine, Molly’s assertiveness and somewhat de-sexualized behavior has its roots in enemies of feminism. In behaving in this way, Molly represents, “the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism" (Haraway). The very things Molly does which contradict established world-views of what it is to be female are the very things done by those who would stand against principals of feminism. While her willingness to modify her body suggests that she understands that, “to be constituted by another's desire is not the same thing as to be alienated in the violent separation of the
labourer from his product”, it is also indicative of her “militarism” (Haraway). This dichotomy is at the heart of both Gibson and Haraway, and is difficult to resolve. How should one balance these two extremes? Is it possible to create and truly “post-gender” existence (Haraway)?