Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ben Fellows Blog #5 Prompt #1

In William Gibson’s Neuromancer, he presents the character Molly Millions, a street samurai, razor girl, and bodyguard cyborg. Throughout the novel, the reader learns about just how dynamic this character is. It is very interesting that Haraway describes the cyborg as:

“a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity”(Haraway 151).

As I stated, Molly is very dynamic character and this description both does and does not apply to her at different points in the novel.

Molly, as we meet her, is the cyborg girl with enhanced nerves, quicksilver eye lenses, and of course, razors tucked under her fingernails. But as we learn more about her, as she reveals more to Case, we learn about the type of girl she was prior to these operations. She employed herself as a “meat puppet” in order to afford these enhancements. This is revealed when Case visits her at a place where the prostitutes are disconnected from their consciousness to be whatever the customer wishes. She states, “You know how I got the money, when I was starting out? Here. Not here, but a place like it, in the Sprawl”(Gibson, 147). She goes on to explain that at first the concept was that she was not conscious while she was being “rented”, but eventually this unconsciousness began to bleed into her conscious. This passage shows a different side of Molly than the reader was used to. It shows her as vulnerable, in addition to her debasing herself to the status of “meat puppet”. It is interesting that this is all before she undergoes her operations to become a cyborg.

The Molly that is present through the novel is far from what one would call vulnerable or debased. She is a kickass street samurai who does what she wants and uses her aggressiveness to manipulate others. On top of this, she is highly protective of Case, which would appear to be a role reversal to the reader, as generally it would be that the male would be protective of the girl. This is reversed, as in this situation, Case is the more vulnerable being, and Molly considers him to be a possession of hers, and wishes to ensure that no harm ever comes upon him. One example of this is when Case is about to take a drink and he sees “the flicker of a thing like a giant human sperm in the depths of his bourbon and water.” Molly reacts to this by slapping Riviera, who was behind the mind trick, and tells him, “No, baby. No games. You play that subliminal shit around me, I’ll hurt you real bad. I can do that without damaging you at all. I like that”(Gibson, 102). This is a very different person from the impression one would get after reading the section about Molly’s past. Molly clearly is a completely different person when one compares her pre-cyborg to her current state.

With all of this said, I think Molly’s character can be read as both anti-feminist and postfeminist. However, with that said, the cyborg Molly of the present and future certainly is postfeminist. I believe that Molly subscribes almost perfectly to Haraway’s belief that cyborgs are “creature[s] in a post-gender world,” and as such, she has no need to wish for equality in gender. Why would she want equality in gender when her female gender has little negative consequences associated with it? Molly uses her femme fatale qualities to overpower others, fully exhibiting postfeminism.

With that said, I believe this novel presents that as one becomes more machine-like than human, they lose the concept of gender. As Haraway states, the cyborg becomes “an ultimate self untied at last from all dependency, a man in space”(Haraway, 151). As society advances in technology, and electronics become more integrated into what defines humans, the gender gap will slowly shrink. Although it may not ever completely disappear, it certainly closes, and that clearly shows in modern day. A basic example of how technology closes the gender gap is a comparison of early humans to modern day. When we were hunter-gatherers, the male relied on stature and strength to make him the dominant gender. No technology was present, so women were the gatherers and child-bearers. However, in modern society today, women are beginning to pass men in their importance in society. Studies show how women interact vs. how men interact in work environments, and women certainly display advantages that were not present before without technology. Although we may not mesh entirely with the definition of cyborg, our relationship with electronics and technology certainly exhibits cyborgian qualities.


Adam said...

"but eventually this unconsciousness began to bleed into her conscious." While this might be a throw-away line, this could also be used to talk about true and false consciousness in the Marcusean/Marxist/Harawayian sense. Not saying you must or even should do that, just pointing out that there are rich possibilities there.

While there are good observations here at the beginning, I'd like to see something resembling an argument, or at least an articulate question, from the beginning.

In the middle of the essay, you stick pretty closely to things we talked about in class. I'd be more happy with that if you were either more clearly expanding upon those things, or challenging them - your discussion of Molly and Case seems more like repetition than development, though.

The ending of your essay is kind of muddy - you don't, after all, develop a terribly clear argument. You flirt with biological determinism in an interesting way which at least parallels Haraway - if you were to structure an argument around the historically changing roles of men and women, though, I"d like to see you be concrete about it rather than general (research), and to engage directly with Haraway on this topic.

Overall: Interesting ideas at the beginning and end, with a rather easy/familiar middle, and lacking a truly clear argument overall.

Brandon said...

Although you do have a great introductory quote, the rest of the essay has almost nothing to do with it. You do not discuss bisexuality, unalienated labor, or any of the other things that Haraway describes.

However, you do present some interesting ideas in the form of Molly's prostitution and how she has changed, even if they have nothing to do with your opening paragraph. Maybe the best thing you can do is to use an alternate thesis statement, or find something else in Haraway that supports what you are trying to get at, which seems to be that Molly's defiance of gender roles is affected by her past.