Research Paper: Cyber Feminism, Gender and Technology

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[. . .] From their perspective, technology such as the internet can be used as a medium to promote feminist philosophy and principles in order to liberate women from subjugation they experience at the hands of males. Sadie Plant wrote Zeroes+Ones in the year 1997 and asserted that cyberfeminism is a philosophy used to describe the seditious bond between females and technology[footnoteRef:18]. Furthermore she asserts that women have always been kept in shadows in the male dominated culture and society and "have been the ones who did the groundbreaking work: from the very first computer program to the latest incarnation of virtual reality"[footnoteRef:19]. Furthermore, Plant concentrates on translating computer codes and asserts that one represents male dominance and authority and zero represents the subjugation of females. Furthermore, she asserts that in the field of telecommunications, women have been sidelined and that males were the actual works. [18: Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991; Reprint,2000] [19: Plant, Sadie. "On the Matrix: Cyberfeminist Simulations." In The Gendered Cyborg: AReader, eds. Gill Kirkup, Linda Janes, Kath Woodward and Fiona Hovenden, 265-75.London; New York: Routledge, 2000]

Her cyberfeminism illustrates the point that women are the machines and that "women have always been the "machine parts" in a male culture by reproducing both the species and the communication. Through this notion of the female capability of translation, she fills the previous absence in the history of the machinery by inscribing women's activities, bodies and emotions in a very close, or even symbiotic, relationship to machines. When machines get more autonomous, women go the same way, and between them a highly charged, sexual alliance is developed, "naturally" linking women's qualities to the new electronic world"[footnoteRef:20]. [20: Plant, Sadie. "On the Matrix: Cyberfeminist Simulations." In The Gendered Cyborg: AReader, eds. Gill Kirkup, Linda Janes, Kath Woodward and Fiona Hovenden, 265-75.London; New York: Routledge, 2000]

The theoretical framework used by Sadie Plant to define cyberfeminism has been appreciated by several authors but also has been subjected to severe criticism as the relationship between women and technology; particularly, in terms of internet, making it a female technology[footnoteRef:21]. [21: Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991; Reprint,2000]

Sandy Stone

From the works of Sandy Stone, transsexual body image has been used in order to understand the concept of cyberfeminism, gender inequality and internet[footnoteRef:22]. According to Stone, the position of a transsexual is not determined. But this does not that the transsexual body does not have the power to speak and thus, "the violence inscribed in the transsexual body can be turned into a deconstructive force even though this process may be severely painful. Stone reads the transsexual body in its internal dissonance to unveil elements of gender in new and unexpected compositions"[footnoteRef:23]. In terms of cyberspace, Stone asserts that "the nets are spaces of transformation, identity factories in which bodies are meaning machines, and transgender -- identity as performance, as play, as wrench into the smooth gears of social apparatus of vision -- is the ground state."[footnoteRef:24] [22: Cockburn, Cynthia. The Line: Women, Partition and the Gender Order in Cyprus. London;New York: Zed Books, 2004] [23: Cockburn, Cynthia. The Line: Women, Partition and the Gender Order in Cyprus. London;New York: Zed Books, 2004] [24: Cockburn, Cynthia. The Line: Women, Partition and the Gender Order in Cyprus. London;New York: Zed Books, 2004]

Cyberfeminism and Internet

The internet is considered to be a medium for bringing social change. The main issue is that how the internet views genders? The main issue in the in terms of gender and internet is that what is the impact of internet on gender and how its content and construct perceptions of gender in the cyberworld? The internet technology was first developed in the sixties where the Pentagon and American Universities worked collaboratively[footnoteRef:25]. Thus, it has been designed by military and industries, which according to the feminists, is controlled and managed by male with their own male values and codes. In the last decade, feminists have associated that internet is a female technology and thus has the qualities of femininity[footnoteRef:26]. On the other hand, some feminists assert that the technology has no gender. This section of the paper concentrates on discussing cyberfeminism and gender in context to internet technology. [25: Faludi, Susan. Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. New York: W. Morrow and Co,1999.] [26: Faludi, Susan. Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. New York: W. Morrow and Co,1999.]

Background

Telephone was the device that was invented in the year nineteenth century. The technology had been developed in order to establish and improve communications systems and networks. Slowly and gradually, the developments made in telephone and communications led to he development of telephone companies. During that time, majority of the companies objected the use of telephone by women. This was because it was widely believed that women only discussed trivial matters rather than using the telephone medium in a constructive way.

The telephone had indeed been propagated by the burgeoning industry as a medium for practical management and household purposes; businessmen were the first target groups. Exhibits, telephone vendors and advertisements in trade journals all claimed that the telephone would 'increase efficiency, save time, and impress customers [footnoteRef:27]. [27: Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991; Reprint,2000]

During those times, the phone had primarily been used by women for meeting their social needs and requirements. Majority of the industry's leaders disproved the female usage of telephone labeling it as "female foolishness"[footnoteRef:28]. "In trade journals and advertisements'talkative women and their frivolous electrical conversations about inconsequential personal subjects were contrasted with the efficient taskoriented, worldly talk of business and professional men'"[footnoteRef:29]. Furthermore, newspapers filed complaints against women usage on phones for catering their social needs. In pop culture, humorous jokes were made on female usage of phone. This indicates that from technological perspective, the gender bias had always been present since the inception of telephone. In this context, it can be understood the need for changing the behavior of females in terms of phone usage. Furthermore, the objections were also made because of financial reasons. For instance, the total cost of the phone was not dependent on the length of the call. "It appeared at the hearing, however, that ordinary telephone subscribers had no objection to the way women used the telephone, 'so the commission ruled it could do nothing'"[footnoteRef:30]. During the twenties, the phone became an important part of marketing and thus, "It is therefore not a far-fetched conclusion to say that 'women subscribers were largely responsible for the development of a culture of the telephone' as we know it today"[footnoteRef:31]. In the same manner, the invention of the computer is joint efforts of Charles Babbage and Ada, a gifted mathematician. 'Ada understood the potential power of a computing machine such as envisioned by Babbage -- one that had internal memory, could mathematical computation, artificial intelligence and even computer music'"[footnoteRef:32]. Babbage's and Ada's work emerged in the late thirties and Ada's "contribution to computer history has been acknowledged by various sources, most notably the American Defence Department which named its primary programming language, ADA, after her"[footnoteRef:33]. The internet technology was first developed in the sixties where the Pentagon and American Universities worked collaboratively. Thus, it has been designed by military and industries, which according to the feminists, is controlled and managed by male with their own male values and codes. Irrespective of the nature of the internet, it is widely believed that the internet is controlled by males and their male values and principles. [28: Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991; Reprint,200] [29: Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991; Reprint,2000] [30: Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991; Reprint,2000] [31: Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991; Reprint,2000] [32: Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991; Reprint,2000] [33: Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991; Reprint,2000]

The last decade has witnessed significant developments in the information technology domain. The commercial interest in the development of the Internet technology is comparable to the commercial interest in development of Guttenberg Press, which aimed at producing massive printed text during the age of industrialization. From feminist critique, it has been observed that although scientists and academics claim that science and technology are objective and unbiased in nature. The statement that technology is objective in nature is false and in reality, it maintains and sustains inequalities and disparities. The global impact of Internet and its supporting technologies cannot be denied, yet they are controlled and managed by Western multinational organizations and corporations. In this regard, ownership, gender, knowledge and technology are still under the hands of a particular group and thus are part of an exclusive category. In the era of digitization, information technologies have been utilized in order to have a positive impact on society and its ends. Yet this is only seen in theory and not in practice.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cyber Feminism, Gender and Technology.  (2011, June 11).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/cyber-feminism-gender-technology/7644519

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