Revisiting Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto in 2023.
40 years later, Cyborg Manifesto is as relevant as ever:
What does it mean to be a woman?
In 1984, feminist scholar Donna Haraway penned essay Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism which is commonly referred to as a A Cyborg Manifesto. Her work challenged traditional masculine notions about technology and instead attempts to associate technology with a feminine nature.
Haraway’s cyborg serves as an allegory for the post-modern condition and women’s fluid role in society. Our conceptualization of human and machine continues as our understanding of gender. The essay is difficult to read at times which allows for personalized speculation on the part of the audience. Nonetheless, CM has an intention of optimism. Technology, can cause harm and can be incredibly dangerous. Yet, it should be recognized its ability to shift power and ultimately empower women.
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Reproductive autonomy caused one of the most transformative shifts of the 20th century. In a generation, high earning industries have seen 30-50% increases in women laborers. Technology in the form of contraceptive has allowed us to author our own destinies. In world where transphobic rhetoric is backed by veils of “female empowerment” we must understand that unquestioned Naturalism is detrimental to the advancement of women.
Many have rightfully questioned the ethics of artificial wombs. While this technology is far from implementation it exemplifies how our propensity for Naturalism can serve as a future hinderance to technological advancements which will later benefit women. This offers an ethical alternative to the grossly exploitative surrogacy industry practiced by the ultra-wealthy. Without the debilitation of pregnancy, women will be able to engage in society in ways unprecedented.
Something I personally enjoyed about Haraway’s work was her framing of Black women, women of trans experience, migrant women, Asian women as cyborg. We exist in a dynamic that can’t be described by a single experience but rather its own, unique, other thing.
Considering this was written in the mid-1980s, there weren’t that many scholars outside of the Black womanism sphere discussing intersectional concepts. It was interesting to see
While reading Cyborg it’s imperative to consider “women’s” labor and its ties to our identities. Many pink collar fields like teaching and nursing aren’t easily replaceable, other woman-dominated fields are. Administrative assistance, retail, accounting are all overwhelmingly women and are on the verge of employment downturn. With this labor outsourced to technology, will this allow women to take on more fulfilling work or will this cause widespread middle-income unemployment? Perhaps we should consider whether women did this work because we enjoyed it, which is a possibility, or rather it was the most suitable for skills imagined to be of women.
A Cyborg Manifesto is a call-to-action. To embrace the futures that innovative technology can offer women. Also - for women to consider our values in society outside of rigid, nature-bound constraints.
Thank you so much for reading, as always. I’d like to read more essays, books, and interesting articles. If you have anything about society, humans or topics you’d think I enjoy please send it my way!