Log in

Previous Entry

We were assigned some excerpts from "A Cyborg Manifesto" by Donna Haraway as a supplemental reading in my Study of Women and Gender course, and I think the professor is assuming a lot of prior knowledge. I'd be eager to hear perspective from anyone who's encountered her work or socialist feminism writing in general.

We weren't given a lot of background, so in desperation, I resorted to Wikipedia as a starting point:

Donna Haraway's essay is an attempt to break away from Oedipal narratives and Christian origin doctrines like Genesis; the concept of the cyborg is a rejection of rigid boundaries, notably those separating "human" from "animal" and "human" from "machine." In A Cyborg Manifesto, she writes: "The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust."[2]

It goes on to discuss such ideas as "sonographic fetus as cyborg." This part is interesting:

Traditional feminists have criticized the Manifesto to be antifeminist because it refutes any commonalities of the female experience.[1] In the Manifesto,she writes "there is nothing about being 'female' that naturally binds women", which goes against a defining characteristic of traditional feminism that calls women to join together in order to advocate for their fellow kin.[2]

From my understanding, Haraway is concerned with ascribing a much higher level of autonomy to the female body than had previously been assumed, as well as breaking down dichotomies and hierarchies. The cyborg is a metaphor for blurring the distinctions between human and non-human, between living and machine, and between physical and non-physical. She has an interesting note on the irrationality of the commonly assumed distinctions between human and non-human animals (copied from the full text at this link):

Movements for animal rights are not irrational denials of human uniqueness; they are a clear-sighted recognition of connection across the discredited breach of nature and culture. Biology and evolutionary theory over the last two centuries have simultaneously produced modern organisms as objects of knowledge and reduced the line between humans and animals to a faint trace re-etched in ideological struggle or professional disputes between life and social science. Within this framework, teaching modern Christian creationism should be fought as a form of child abuse.

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

--Emily Dickinson