Category Archives: Posts

css.php

Music-Activated Vibrator

For this week’s class we are discussing Xenofeminism.org which is a website led by an anonymous group of people. The post-modern movement of xenofeminsim focuses on the advancements of technology, on gender abolition, on feminist emancipation, on societal alienation and on anti-naturalism. When you go to the website, the first thing that you see is a post:

“I Wore a Music-Activated Vibrator to the Club Instead of Doing Drugs”

– I had more orgasms than you had last weekend.

Interestingly, the concept of doing drugs while going to a dance club is replaced by the concept of having orgasms. What does this say about the ‘feminist movement’? When comparing drugs to orgasms, does this obscure or highlight the relationship a femaled body could have over their pleasure autonomy? What are some of the liberal OR progressive qualities of having sexual pleasure in a public environment by way of a technological apparatus (a vibrator)? 

Technology That Makes Life Easier, But Not for Women

After reading the Cuboniks piece, I was reminded of an article in the New York Times that explained how everyone suffered from Zoom fatigue during the pandemic, but women are feeling the technological effects worse. I chose two New Yorker cartoons that sum up some of these emotions:

The scrutiny of being a woman working in an office haven’t gone away—they have just been shifted to a new digital setting. In a year that brought us all to our emotional and mental breaking points, that same pressure to be perfect still exists, but this time online and ALL the time.

The Times article mentions “mirror anxiety”, which is when seeing yourself in a mirror (for 8 hours a day) triggers heightened self-focus. This leads to anxiety and depression, and women were surveyed as feeling these stronger than men. Adding this on top of demanding duties caring for the home and loved ones (but it’s an inconvenience for others when that real life pops up in the Zoom background), the pandemic was much harder on women. These technologies designed to be convenient and accessible didn’t help with women feeling overwhelmed.

Arca’s “Nonbinary”

This is a screenshot from Arca’s 2020 music video “Nonbinary.” The link to the full video is also included. 

Like the authors of Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation, Arca is interested in the relationship between gender, technology, nature, and the future. 

What does this particular screenshot (or the whole song) seem to suggest about Arca’s views about the relationship between gender and nature? Does it seem to reject nature in the same way that Xenofeminism does, or do something different?

Artificial Womb

As shared on the news recently, there was a lamb born from an artificial womb. The lamb was placed in the artificial womb as a premature ‘infant’ to extend and sustain them while continuing their growth in an area copying the premature ‘natural’ environment. When this idea becomes available for humans, this will allow the baby born before 37 weeks, to continue to grow before it needs to face the world of infections and allow the lungs to mature enough to breathe for themselves. So far, they were able to keep the lamb in the artificial womb for four weeks.

We are in the section of posthumanism in class. Posthumanism is about leaving the body behind and letting the mind extend on through technology. In this case, it can be the case of an infant leaving behind the parents’ body. Although, many people feel there is an ethical issue on how scientists can extend this idea being used. Some believe there is an advantage of allowing parents to use this idea of an external artificial womb in surrogacy for willing to be parents. Though, this will also mean an alternative to abortion. This allows the second parent of the child full rights of this fetus.

Video – https://www.bbc.com/news/av/health-50056405

And an article –

The Robots are Here

A city in Hawaii just spent a large amount of their PPP money on buying one of these robot crime-fighting dogs for their police department, for which they were heavily critiqued. What are your thoughts regarding the implementation of these dogs? Are you pro/anti?

Does it remind you of this Black Mirror episode?

They were supposed to add one of the dogs to NYC police department, but it was cancelled due to public outcry this April. It would have cost $94,000 and would have helped with surveying hazardous areas. The dogs are able to climb stairs. The mayor called the dog “creepy” and “unnecessary.”

Should we be adding them to police departments? Why or why not?

Data Collection Through EEG Cap

I came across this wearable technology that is being developed by a scientist by the name of Neo Mohsenvand. His goal is to help those with brain difficulties be able to store memories, specifically with Alzheimer’s Disease in mind. With a camera on his chest and his sporty EEG cap, he records himself everyday and analyzes his physiological signals. In the future, this innovation can help those with severe chronic memory weakness be able to retain more, though it does require collecting an incredible amount of personal data. A quote in the Data Colonization reading that caught my attention was, “A continuously trackable life is a dispossessed life, no matter how one looks at it.” The authors also state that the very integrity of human life needs to be protected with all this data collecting. Obviously, the authors of this piece and Mohsenvand have opposing views on this issue. I would like to know what are your takes on this EEG Cap, considering that those who would be using it in the future may not be the ones signing the consent forms for it because of their compromised mental capacity.

EEG cap and camera

Neo with the EEG Cap and Camera

6/16 – Coded Bias Documentary

From this week’s readings on biopolitics, data colonialism, and biometric surveillance and tracking, I immediately thought of the documentary that came out on Netflix last year, “Coded Bias.” The documentary exposes how human interaction with technology (data) has taught technology (data) the same biases that are found in our society. The documentary focuses on facial recognition technology or biometric identity tracking, and the biases that are built into the use and accuracy of the algorithms used in this type of tracking or surveillance. I have posted the trailer below, but if you have Netflix I highly suggest you watch the full piece. At one point in the documentary, the discuss the William Gibson quote, “the future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Whereas some people use this quote to imply that people in power, people with money are living in a future that the rest of us are trying to catch up to, in the documentary they argue that it is minority groups and the oppressed that are living in this future (the Orwellian Big Brother future).  They (we) are the ones being hyper-tracked, where power is being wielded through data science.  People in power, people with money, are being elevated with these advances in technology, while the other groups are being punished through its use.  It is also a catch-22 that we are placed in (and that we are placing ourselves in), in order to fully participate in society, you have to allow some amount of data to be collected about you.  Working hard to not let data be collected about you, also means that the data that is “teaching” technology is also only coming from a select group of people.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNsbsPLLvqH/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Plastic Surgery, Medical Tourism, and the Cyborg

A Cyborg Manifesto was first published in 1985. While plastic/cosmetic surgery (herein referred to as cosmetic physical intervention) was an option to consumers in the 80s (liposuction was developed in that era, in fact), it was not as widespread and technologically advanced of a practice as it is today. Currently a multi-billion-dollar industry, various manners of cosmetic physical intervention is now commonplace in certain social/cultural spheres. The marketing target for this industry has gotten lower and lower over the years; I am currently in my 20s, and I am aware of peers my age (and younger) that have integrated all manners of cosmetic technology into their lives (preventative Botox comes to mind).

I selected a video as my piece of media, one that was shown to me as a recommended video when I was on YouTube. The video discusses the cosmetic physical intervention industry in  South Korea, showcasing some of the technologies available and outlining why the country is an international destination for cosmetic work (for a taste of cosmetic surgery in South Korea see : https://gawker.com/plastic-surgery-blamed-for-making-all-miss-korea-contes-480907455 ). There is a ton of machinery in this video, all used on bodies. Does plastic surgery contribute to someone being a cyborg?

Transhumanism and the illusion of control

In a 2011 essay, Katherine Hayles defines transhumanism as the idea that “contemporary technosciences can enhance human capabilities and ameliorate or eliminate such traditional verities as mortality.” The essay was a follow-up to a book she had written over a decade earlier in which she first identified the emergence of this trend. At the time, she had called for a more balanced approach to technology, where we recognize the power it has to improve our lives but also understand its limits. “My dream is a version of  the posthuman that embraces the possibilities of information technologies without being seduced by fantasies of unlimited power and disembodied immortality,” she wrote.

I worry that her dream has not been realized. A few years ago my husband and I were struggling to conceive. Of course, I was constantly on Google looking up tips and tricks, so I started getting served all sorts of ads related to pregnancy. One that really stood out for me was from a femtech wearables start-up called Ava. The $270 device they were trying to sell basically told you when you were ovulating — exactly the same information you could get from a $15 pack of pee sticks! But their ads framed their product as though it was the answer to any fertility woes. They used vocabulary like “regain control” and even offered a “pregnancy guarantee or your money back.” I just used the Facebook Ads Library to see what types of ads they’re running, and it was exactly the same concept: positioning a (pretty basic technology) as some sort of salvation for people experiencing fertility problems.

Apologies for the slight delay in uploading — technology issues! (How ironic, given the topic.)

Black Women in Pornography

The jezebel trope reminds me of the many objectifying ways that black women are represented in the mainstream media to this day, which has been addressed by many prominent scholars such as Roxanne Gay and Kimberly Crenshaw. However, something that doesn’t get discussed enough is how black women are portrayed in pornography and how it perpetuates their representation as sexually-deviant objects of male desire. 

In the U.S., pornography is a huge industry. A scattered array of statistics shows how much the pornographic industry impacts our society:

-Just one (of hundreds of websites) reported 42 billion site visits in 2019. 

-In 2006, pornography revenues exceeded 13 billion

-91% of men and 60% of women reported watching porn in 2018.  

The first problem with portrayal of black women is that “black” is a niche porn category. There is no such category as “white women”. So, when dehumanizing labels of porn videos, such as “whore”, describe a video with a black actress, they are inextricably linked to her race, creating the illusion that she is a “whore” because she is black.

In addition, black women are often portrayed in ways that reaffirm stereotypes about their sexuality. For example, black porn actresses are more likely to be the target of aggression compared to white women. This again reaffirms the stereotype that black women have insatiable sexual appetites and that it is acceptable for men to violate them since it’s “what they want”. In addition, black actresses are less likely to be cast in “feminist” porn that focuses on female pleasure, which gives off the image that they are unworthy of intimacy and respect. 

It’s hard to imagine that with the high rates of porn consumption, these images don’t get internalized by the men and women who see them and then manifested in the treatment of black women. 

source: Cosmopolitan