Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog 5, Prompt 1

Molly Millions: Badass technokiller in a hypersexualized body

Molly, also known as “razor girl” is a fiercely independent, violent, take-no-prisoners character that is viewed as a strong, positive female character. When Molly Millions is first introduced in William Gibsons’ Neuromancer, she immediately sticks out because of her composition of parts. She’s physically fit, has eye sockets sealed with vision-enhancing mirrored lenses that were surgically attached to her face, has her tear ducts leading to her mouth, and has artificially heightened sensory input, metabolism, and reflexes. Also, she has incredibly sharp razor claws beneath her fingernails. “You try to fuck around with me, you’ll be taking one of the stupidest chances of your whole life” (Gibson 25).

And while she’s had a difficult past to overcome, she’s seen as the confident, active hero of the cyberpunk novel after using her prostitution to gain independence and transform herself into a strong technokiller. “She’d have you wearing your balls for a bow tie if you looked at her cross-eyed, ” Finn said (Gibson 87). She’s also comfortable with her sexuality and exudes her status as a woman without being opposed to men. She’s supposed to be represent a rebellion against the patriarchal system. But while Molly Millions embraces her badass techno-hottie role, she is still held back by her feminized sexualization, making her post-feminist image ineffective.

Near the beginning of the novel, Case asks Molly what makes her tick that makes Armitage want to employ her. “‘I’m an easy make.’ She smiled. ‘Anybody any good at what they do, that’s what they are right? You gotta jack, I gotta tussle’” (Gibson 50). Haraway, in her discussion of Marxism’s influence on gender in labor, comments that gender plays a role in class categorization that “reveals class structure.” She references Catherin MacKinnon’s take on gender and Marxism, noting that the West tends to have a more assimilating theory toward gender. Molly recognizes her role as a woman with a designated task, and she pushes to achieve what is expected of her despite any setbacks. Riviera, who Molly doesn’t like from the beginning of the novel, depicts Molly as an cartoon-like femme fatale. Molly rejects this and “kicked at something beneath the feet of the holo-Molly” to make the figures disappear (Gibson 202). And while Riviera constantly mocks Molly throughout the novel, but Molly has the final insult when she poisons him.

It’s one argument that Neuromancer places everyone in a postgender world once they are plunged in the virtual, cyberspace world. In Donna Haraway’s “A Cybord Manifesto: Science Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” she weaves together technology, gender, and sexuality. “The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world: it has not truck with bisexuality … or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all powers of the parts into a higher unity” (Haraway). So while this opens up the concept of a post-gender world, another argument can be that the cyborg -- as a metaphor -- leads to a disingenuous presentation of the postgender image.

Molly is the metaphorical cyborg. A combination of femininity and intelligence, she goes against the idea of women has a maternity figure and emotional femininity. Molly is incapable of moving past her hypersexualized female body, making post-feminist attempts in the novel somewhat regressive. Postfeminism wants to push the belief that women have achieved what they set out to do in the first and second wave of feminism. Characters like Molly espouse that a woman is liberated, aware of her own consciousness, and knows what is worthwhile for her. However, Gibson’s attempts to generate a postfeminist image of Molly falls short as she fails to move past her sexualized attitude.


Jacob Pavlovich said...

I thoroughly enjoy your commentary on Molly in your first few paragraphs. However, when you start to get into the parts that analyze her character to Haraway's writings I find myself a bit confused. To clarify what I mean, because of the ambiguity of that last statement, I am not sure the whole of the essays flows together. I feel like a quick remedy to this, would simply to add a Haraway quote or start talking about Haraway earlier in your essay.

Adam said...

It's been a while since I've had anybody in class with either a knack for titles, or an interest in them. So thank you for another great title!

You say she "is viewed" in a particular way. Why the passive voice? Do *you* view her this way?

Your thesis -- "But while Molly Millions embraces her badass techno-hottie role, she is still held back by her feminized sexualization, making her post-feminist image ineffective" -- is great. It's well worded, argumentative, and simultaneously serious and funny.

I'm confused re: what you're doing with Riviera in the third paragraph - maybe a bad transition? I thought you were heading to an argument that Molly, as laborer, remains feminine and feminized despite all of her power. This was a great start, but your transition to Riviera here is very awkward.

I remain confused through the last couple paragraphs. I get the direction - Molly remains hypersexualized, and therefore the project of the cyborg fails. I think your demonstration that she remains hypersexualized lacks details, though. I'm beginnign to understand why Riviera is central to your argument, but you need to do more with both the roles in which he tries to place her and how she reacts - discussing what happens at the end of the novel (with 3Jane, Hideo, and Riviera) is necessary to make your argument work in detail.

Short version: outstanding start, but at the end you simply need to do more with the text.