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

Notable excerpts from 1997, mentions VNS 1991 Manifesto (for the 21st century?), and after "the supersexed cyborg femme" and "cunt", I'm still interested in knowing how/where is cyberfeminism today (or at least how has VNS's evolved?)

From http://www-art.cfa.cmu.edu/www-wilding/wherefem.html
by Faith Wilding

The question of how to define cyberfeminism is at the heart of the often contradictory contemporary positions of women working with new technologies and feminist politics. Sadie Plant's position on cyberfeminism, for example, has been identified as "an absolutely post-human insurrection - the revolt of an emergent system which includes women and computers, against the world view and material reality of a patriarchy which still seeks to subdue them. This is an alliance of 'the goods' against their masters, an alliance of women and machines" (1). This utopian vision of revolt and merger between woman and machine is also evident in VNS Matrix's Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century: "we are the virus of the new world disorder/rupturing the symbolic from within/saboteurs of big daddy mainframe/the clitoris is a direct line to the matrix..."(2) Another position in this debate is offered by Rosi Braidotti: "....cyberfeminism needs to cultivate a culture of joy and affirmation....Nowadays, women have to undertake the dance through cyberspace, if only to make sure that the joy-sticks of cyberspace cowboys will not reproduce univocal phallicity under the mask of multiplicity...."(3)

The press release issued at the cyberfeminist discussions in Kassel declared that: "The 1st CYBERFEMINIST INTERNATIONAL slips through the traps of definition with different attitudes towards art, culture, theory, politics, communication and technology--the terrain of the Internet." What strangely emerged from these discussions was the attempt to define cyberfeminism by refusal, evident not only in the intensity of the arguments, but also in the l00 antitheses devised there - for example: "cyberfeminism is not a fashion statement/ sajbrfeminizm nije usamljen/cyberfeminism is not ideology, but browser/cyberfeminismus ist keine theorie/cyberfeminismo no es una frontera/(4)..." Yet the reasons given by those who refused to define cyberfeminism - even though they called themselves cyberfeminists - indicate a profound ambivalence in many wired women's relationship to what they perceive to be a monumental past feminist history, theory, and practice. Three main manifestations of this ambivalence and their relevance to contemporary conditions facing women immersed in technology bear closer examination.


While cybergrrls sometimes draw (whether consciously or unconsciously) on feminist analyses of mass media representations of women--and on the strategies and work of many feminist artists--they also often unthinkingly appropriate and recirculate sexist and stereotyped images of women from popular media--the buxom gun moll, the supersexed cyborg femme, and the 50's tupperware cartoon women are favorites--without any analysis or critical recontextualization. Creating more positive and complex images of women that break the gendered codes prevailing on the Net (and in the popular media) takes many smart heads, and there is richly suggestive feminist research available, ranging from Haraway's monstrous cyborgs, Judith Butler's fluid gender performativity, to Octavia Butler's recombinant genders. All manner of hybrid beings can unsettle the old masculine/feminine binaries.

Cybergrrlish lines of flight are important as vectors of investigation, research, invention, and affirmation. But these can't replace the hard work that is needed to identify and change the gendered structures, content, and effects of the new technologies on women worldwide. If it is true, as Sadie Plant argues that "women have not merely had a minor part to play in the emergence of the digital machines.....[that] women have been the simulators, assemblers, and programmers of the digital machines, (6)" then why are there so few women in visible positions of leadership in the electronic world? Why are women a tiny percentage of computer programmers, software designers, systems analysts, and hackers, while they are the majority of teletypers, chip-assemblers and installers, and lowskilled tele-operators that keep the global data and infobanks operating? Why is the popular perception still that women are technophobic? Sadly, the lesson of Ada Lovelace is that even though women have made major contributions to the invention of computers and computer programming, this hasn't changed the perception--or reality--of women's condition in the new technologies. Being bad grrls on the Internet is not by itself going to challenge the status quo, though it may provide refreshing moments of iconoclastic delirium. But if grrrl energy and invention were to be coupled with engaged political theory and practice.....Imagine!

Imagine cyberfeminists theorists teaming up with brash and cunning grrl netartists to visualize new female representations of bodies, languages, and subjectivities in cyberspace! Currently (in the US) there is little collaboration between academic feminist theorists, feminist artists, and popular women's culture on the Net. What would happen if these groups worked together to visualize and interpret new theory, and circulate it in accessible popular forms? Imagine using existing electronic networks to link diverse groups of women computer users (including teleworkers and keystrokers) in an exchange of information about their day-to-day working conditions and lives on the Net; imagine using this information network as an action base to address issues of women digital workers in the global restructuring of work. Such projects could weave together both the utopian and political aspirations of cyberfeminism.

* Digiteer Art Tech Cult http://digitalmedia.upd.edu.ph/digiteer/ * Algorithmic Music http://mp3.com/fatimalasay | http://mp3.com/breathemusic * Discussion group send email to digiteer-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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