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Notes Towards Day 10: Contemporary Engenderings of Technology

I. Panelists: please graph yourselves via space, time, class, race, gender, age, occupation before seating/labeling yourselves

II. Coursekeeping

panels for Wednesday and days following
(grumbling re: meeting deadlines/taking responsibility:
less than 2/3–30–of you signed up)

–reminder re: scheduling a writing conference before break
some “transparent” thoughts about next paper-writing:
consider the differences between

* “top-down” and “bottom up” methods
(Cat: characters made it easier for me to visualize
I had learned from the theory-rich texts)

(Ruth: theory really is useful. It helps us to examine how we think, and why we think what way, and how we understand the world…. it helps us to question the very notions of accuracy.)

* “inside-out” and “outside-in” pov’s
(Kathryn Janeway/Hlin on the
“gender propaganda” that is Barbie&Ken)

Pattern slowly emerging for the three weeks after break
(less than 1/2 of you–20–voted…)

Many relevant events to attend/learn from/report back on…

III. Today’s (contemporary) introductions:

IV. 15 (also contemporary) performances,
moderated by “self-made man” Norah Vincent (Anne):

Anna Wintour (Anna)
Nadya Suleman (Michelle)
Overbrook Elementary Computer Science teacher (Ruth)
Wenza Ali Mutlaq (Shikha)
Emily Gould (Hannah)
Waris Dirie (Nat)
CompSci Faculty (Diane)
Benazir Bhutto (Natasha)
Judith Butler (Roldine)
Meg Whitman (Kalyn)
Sally Ride (Aline)
Mineko Iwasaki (ZY)
Valentina Tereshkova (Cleo Calbot)
Adrienne Rich (Melinda C)
Martha Coston? (Julia)

V. Framing this as a conversation with our blog/audience members,
who have posed some great questions:

AH on revisiting the”omitted axes of differentiation”
to get a better grip on the technologies that forged these personalities/stories:

  • Location (U.S./Europe?)

  • Class (Upper/upper middle?–>more flexibility?)

  • Race (generically Caucasion)

  • Humanoid (striking gaps in portrayals of technological possibilities…!)

Hlin on that darn fictional panel:
something many of us had in common was a high degree of destructiveness…an indicator of the creators’ sense of apprehension of our developing relationship with technology…..Last month, I had the misfortune of getting my personal laptop hacked….I felt angry and violated, handicapped and incomplete, because my computer is an extention of me. So, I think we already have a symbiotic relationship with technology….it has altered our human identities. And to me, that’s kind of unsettling.

Alexandra, who had gotten very caught up in the
idea of technology as an extension of humanity:

But what if we are extending in the wrong direction? (Doctor Manhattan transcends the human condition…He eventually loses all traces of humanity. He has no morality…he is decidedly male.) Could gender be something that is so ingrained in our consciousness that it is impossible to get rid of?…….could we talk about the idea of sex becoming outdated through technology?

If we’re to evolve past sex, will we then evolve past gender, too?

Maddie on the difference between biological and cultural defaults:

  • without the addition of testosterone, the default sex would be female.

  • dressing like a man isn’t adding male elements, but stripping away female elements. Is the default gender male?

Marwa on technology nowadays…
isn’t just isolating, it is promoting anti-social behavior…When there was a real live new person sitting right there doing nothing, why was someone else’s recorded voice more entertaining? You can learn new things from new people, not as much from words you already know by heart.

Melinda C, Farhat, Mista Jay: technology does promote sociability.
Farhat on media’s life altering effects:

people fail to differentiate between right and wrong. Some forms of technology do blind us from our sense of self. ‘The things you own end up owning you.’

Sugar Spice re the technologies of representation (“body as artform”):
(Do you think that) the nude female body is fetishized, while the male acts as an accessory?

ZY re the “tough guise” of sexism:
the media and pop culture portrayals of men as tough and strong lead to domestic and sexual gender violence
(Aline says no: it’s the lack of exercise?)

Michelle on the construction of superheroes:
most are obviously gendered. However, the average joe has gotten more and more, well, average…bulky muscles replaced it with a newer, kind of geek/chic version of masculinity. Also, there’s the matter of masks versus makeup, both of which offer variability and programability of one’s appearance. Most superheroes have a mask, while most villains wear makeup….to define their identity, rather than to disguise it?

Carrie on Rosie’s “actual impact”:
Some say that the campaign opened up the workforce forever while some of the statements used in the campaign seem to imply otherwise: “Do the job he left behind,” a “patriotic duty”–the women simply seen as the man’s replacement, only working to hold his place and when he returned her job would become his job again..
DC on the so called “maternal instinct”:

Is this encoded in our DNA or is it conditioned through the use of props such as baby dolls?
Nat on the technology of language
used to define and gender the world in which we live:
“gender changer,” “motherboard,” “mothership”…. any more examples?