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Overview:In her work, “Cyborg Manifesto,” Donna Haraway critiques traditional forms of feminism as too focused on individual and cultural identity. Instead, she sees a Utopian promise in leveling the gender “playing field” in the promise of posthuman chimeras (which, she believes we all are) — the cyborg. What do you make of her central thesis?

In their study of gender representations of domestic use robots, Carpenter et al. (2009) make the case that, “The very nature of a robot with a humanoid form mixed with implied (or real) functionality, the social characteristics of the robot and the context of use are combined with the individual user’s cultural expectations and will encourage a set of interaction norms,” (p. 264). In other words, our symbolic social interaction derived from cultural perceptions influence our need to project humanoid characteristics on anthropomorphized cyborgs. With this in mind, consider Haraway’s point that cyborgs will liberate us from gender constructs. What do you make of the conflict between her ideal concept of cyborgs and the everyday reality of interaction between humans and cyborgs?

Some questions to consider:

●Have the lines between human and cyborg really blurred to the point that “human” is no longer distinguishable? Is there a case to be made against Haraway’s claim that human has become chimera? If so, then how do you avoid falling into the trappings of biological determinism?

  • Is tech neutral? Or, are cultural biases encoded into the cyborgs that Haraway had such confidence would liberate us from gender constraints?
  • Consider the contemporary conversation over robot rights to citizenship and / or legal personhood from a gendered point of view. Do some robots have more rights than women?

●Why are sexbots such booming market? Who are they for?


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