Re: [-empyre-] the use in girls coming

Julianne Pierce wrote:

The project of VNS Matrix was to attempt to claim a female space within cyberspace. One of the strategies to do this was to use language and to reclaim language which is negative or derogatory towards women. The word 'cunt' can be offensive...and has obviously been offensive to some on this list!! But for us it was about using this word in a positive way, to say that we are cunts and proud of it....

The thing is, this shows a real lack of understanding of _why_ the word "cunt" is offensive, doesn't it? I mean, why is the word cunt offensive? To me it's because it's been about a violent reduction of the human being to purely sexualized terms, which is a kind of psychological violence. In the same sense, a feminist that says "I am a cunt and proud of it" is still advocating the recognition of her humanity in terms of particular sexual organs rather than the complexity and individuality of each member of the female side of the species.

I'm sure you are familiar with ecofeminism, which draws a comparison between the segmenting of animal bodies and the segmentation of female bodies- particularly in the images of advertising in which women are reduced to breasts, legs, lips, or in harder pornography, an ass, a cunt, etc. I had always figured it would make the most sense for feminists to reject this practice wholeheartedly rather than endorse the segmentation of thier own bodies as a source of pride. It seems to shy away from real confrontation with the darker side of these segmentations and actually encourage them?

in other versions of the manifesto we replace the word 'cunt' with 'kunst', we make art with our 'kunst'. We were also interested in the relationship of the body to the computer...that the Matrix is another word for the womb and that the cunt or clitoris is a direct line to the Matrix.

But there is no connection between the body and the computer. The computer can work as an extension of the psyche only. There is a fashionable idea that a bird builds a nest and that therefore the nest is an extension of the womb and therefore an extension of the birds body- but this is simply idea-play, isn't it? What difference might it make in any understanding of feminism if the internet was an extension of the vagina, which I haven't seen much evidence of.

Our project was to take the writings of french feminists in particular and place these in the context of virtual space, to use the language of this feminism and graph this onto another sphere - to create an imaginary space where the body could exist. It was also about exploring sexuality in cyberspace, and as ben.w points out there was a lot of this going on at the time, and we all remember teledildonics with fondness and strapping ourselves into latex suits and being virtually stimulated by remote bodies. It was serious investigation of networks and virtual space but it was fun as well.

Doesn't this further remove us from being human? An army of women using dildos interactively hardly seems like true liberation. I am curious Julianne if you would describe what you consider "liberation" to be, or if you are even concerned with it? I feel that sexuality and public sex- which are major components of a lot of the cybersexual stuff I remember- plays on themes of exhibition, "fucking the network," etc- which are really variations on exhibitionism that play on the concept of "looking"- fucking an object is objectifying. Cybersex removes the need for a human sexuality altogether- which is a rejection of male/female dichotomy but I'm not sure if that one is for the better. How is fucking a machine liberating? I see it more as escapism, a displacement of actual sexuality, a very cynical denial of progress- "men and women will never bridge thier differences; let's just fuck fantasy versions of ourselves." Cybersex- and I'm talking particularly of the leather suits and strap on bits that were dreamed about in 1994- is simply elaborate masturbation; and masturbation is not liberation, either. [And I'm not wanting to imply its an escape from the male/female dichotomy either, because lesbians with cyber strap ons aren't being liberated; its still a denial of actual contact and communication with another human being which formulates the core of compassionate living.]

All forms of oppression are basically linked, and they are linked to one thing, which is the desire for power. This desire for power is what stays with us from day one, and the rest of it is how we are told we are supposed to deal with that power. Ultimately, the idea that a womans power comes from her cunt is offensive not because the word cunt is offensive or that vaginas are threatening to men. It's because the idea of weilding sexuality as a threat is how women are now told to obtain power. But sex is not about power. The idea that sex is about power is what led to the oppression of women to begin with. Power comes from - as childrens book cliche as this is- the mastery of ones self, an independance of thought. Also: a sufficient control of ones own thoughts, which requires an active deprogramming of cultural ideas such as the one we've mentioned. Here we see an idea that plays right in to male fantasies being thrown at men with the idea that it is offensive. "Look out, I am a walking vagina and I will fuck you if I want to and I will control you with my vagina which I am synonymous with." It's almost mysoginistic.

Behind the fun though was a desire to agitate for increasing women's involvement with the datasphere...and this is where the cyberfeminism comes's about become active and making change and in some ways being aggressive about that. VNS Matrix wasn't about separatism, it was about recognising that the cybersphere isn't neutral at all, it's a political, privileged and cultural space.

This much is true- but all spaces are neutral, its how we come to understand the metaphors of that space that are gender biased, and how we control that space. How we deal with these metaphors is really just how we deal with power. I've never felt that oppression should be segmented. The real problem is less "Patriarchial Hegemony" and more about who controls what, and the answer is that creativity of any sort seems to be tossed out the window when it comes to organizing spaces. When creativity is allowed, it is a "feminine" space. I know many women who operate spaces in a way reminiscent of "male" methods of control, because control has its own protocol, whether we are aiming to control the internet, corporations, government, cultural ideas or the media. We're still living with the historical protocols for power which evolved through thousands of years of male control [and reproductive selection based on how well males could obtain and wield that control, and how well women could avoid it] which means that there is not a "feminist" language for control or oppression- yet. This shouldn't really be the goal of any feminist movement, but when I see the word "cunt" used I think it is a misguided attempt to wrest control back from "males". The idea should be more towards establishing a new language for control, a language in which control does not inevitably rest in bed with oppression.

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