Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Paradox of the Cyborg Woman

It's really difficult to know where to begin with this. I kind of want to launch right into unrealistic American ideals now becoming attainable through technology.
I kind of want to talk about how our ideas of beauty have been influenced by colonizing forces, and how the cyborg seems to be nearly-always represented as a busty, slender white chick with European facial features.
But, I also kind of want to talk about the perpetuation of women as subjects. As things. As constructs. As machines. And how the cyborg is simply representative of who we are becoming, rather than just an extremely sexy figure utilized in science fiction. The female cyborg does not present an opposition to the female human, but is rather a reflection of who she is and who she strives to be based off of global, social, and sexual relations.
Conversely though, the cyborg does make one advancement in terms of feminine liberation, and that is that generally, she tends to kick ass. She can and does kill men (between her thighs no less, as seen with Pris in Blade Runner) and other cyborgs, blows people away with her intelligence, and often asserts a deep dimension of character that goes beyond what her sexiness would suggest. While her body is usually, if not always, incredible, she does not appear useless and weak. Her biceps would take an extreme amount of reps at the gym to achieve, but appear and are extremely capable.
The female cyborg is useful. The female cyborg is brilliant. She is complex, strong, ass-kicking and neck-crushing. She is not helpless, and does not appear to be "made of porcelain" (umm, Eli said that). Although she comes across as a sexual object and carries an attached fantasy with that objectification, at least she can beat the shit out of her objectifiers if she so chooses. Though her mouth is often agape and moist, like the Spearmint Rhino billboards lining the freeways of Los Angeles, the female cyborg can potentially still be seen as its own kind of advancement in the representation of women in pop culture. We are trading one impossible extreme ideal for another, but at least this type of female is not defenseless, silent, and weak.
BUT in order to fit into the strong, ass-kicking female cyborg category, the female cyborg must have a perfect body (no flat-chested, overweight, or eight-toed cyborg women) and a beautiful (European) face. She still has to fit an ideal before she can go on the ass-kicking sprees that defy a more useless model of idealism. (Eli and I also talked about this. Citing Eli.) I was really surprised to even find this image: Now I feel way more conflicted than when I began writing this. Let's watch Pris crush Harrison Ford with her thighs: Pris in Blade Runner; and a bitchin preview for Blade Runner

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