Posts Tagged ‘ technology ’

Gender role critique in ‘Neuromancer’ [short version]


Set in a future that is arguably dystopian and not too far fetched, the representations of power, race and gender within William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984) can be seen as a reflection on and critique of the state of those that were current at the time of writing. As LeBlanc (1997:2) points out, ‘cyberpunk, as a genre, it is not only about the near future— it is about our own time.’

Donna Haraway, whose Cyborg Manifesto (1991:2) posited that the ‘cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world’, also claimed that Neuromancer offers a radical critique of current gender roles. In arguing where Gibson is implicitly criticising, accepting or ambivalent in this respect, this essay will examine his representation of men and women and search for underlying bias in the characters’ descriptions and fates and their adherence or subversion of the gender roles assigned them.

Case is a traditional —if unwholesome— [anti-]hero that Gibson wants us to like. Someone who has paid harshly for a mistake, Case’s killing of three people in Chiba is glossed over as part of his downward spiral and not dwelt on. It is in relation to Molly, however, that differences emerge. In a reversal of traditional roles, Case is the passive, non-violent, controlled one, though he has to ‘will himself to passivity’ (p.72) to receive Molly’s simstim sensorium. Despite the contention that Molly is just a vehicle for him (Stockton, 1995), Gibson portrays the power and control as belonging to her.

The few named female characters include Molly, Linda Lee, 3Jane, Marlene, Michèle and (Flanagan, 2000) the Matrix itself. Women are depicted as sexual objects, from the ‘free’ Linda Lee and Molly to the ‘forced’ wives of the sarariman, who are required to wear sackcloth and sport artificial bruises (p.154) and the meat puppets who endure sexual (ab)use, though technology can cancel-out their conscious awareness of it.  Molly’s recollections of her ordeals are possibly a reminder that no matter how they try to fix it, actions such as these always leave a mark somewhere.

Conversely, the reader is meant to like Molly. She is portrayed as good, strong and independent. She is not a sexual trophy for Case, she is his bodyguard. This is a major contravention of the protection and safety role that men traditionally occupied in relation to women. Molly is the one who initiates the first sexual encounter with Case and in another transgression of generally accepted gender roles, it is Molly who leaves Case at the end of the novel.

She would not have the ability to truly break away from the female stereotype, however, without her body’s enhancements. To become a street samurai, a ‘working girl’ (p.41) she first had to be another kind of working girl, a meat puppet, in order to be able to afford the expensive surgery (Cavallaro, 2000). Molly sacrifices and utilizes her body in order to attain the power and status generally afforded only to men. This kind of trade-off had been the norm for decades at the time Gibson was writing.

All of these factors seem to suggest that Molly is a strong new type of woman, however she can be perceived as a cautionary tale, i.e. be like her and become isolated. Therefore, although Gibson seems to be criticising women’s various sexual or abused roles and celebrating their liberation from them, he nonetheless includes a corollary.

Overall, Gibson seems to criticise current roles such as the militaristic macho man and the sexually abused woman and encourages subversion in liked characters, i.e. Molly and Case. However, subversive but unliked characters are punished and as Kamioka notes, even though Gibson ‘hates’ the status quo, ‘his balancing act accepts [it] … as inevitable and unchangeable.’ (Suvin 1991 in Kamioka, 1998:65).

© 2009 Geo S. Willis

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Video: ‘The art of corporate mind control’… Paranoid?


Some of you may have seen this video before. It presents what could easily be described as a paranoid* view of the world we live in today. Let me know what you think. Is this how it is? Partly? Or is this all preposterous nonsense?



* some might say, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Just a thought.

MIT’s wearable computer project[ion]


This is a video of ‘No.6’, mentioned in the iBoobs post below. The full article can be found here. Pretty kwl… :):-

Password strength diagram – not for rookies


Forevergeek has showcased an amusing diagram for choosing password strength.

Visit their article for an explanation of that gert big unbreakable one.

This diagram begs a couple of questions though:

i) do people really still use passwords like ‘password’, ‘access’, ‘secret’ and ‘12345’?

and

ii) who decided on the computer-using-persons range:

teens> douche> geek> nature lover> professional> ‘normal’ ?

No silver surfers? No brats? No rookies? No chavs?

Admittedly a world devoid of chavs would be an improvement, but you can’t have everything in life including, it seems, a representational educational diagram.Rookies, however, would likely be the most in line to benefit from such a diagram and their exclusion must have left the feeling adrift. Where to place oneself? Am I a geek? Am I… Normal?

Q&A: Hayley Martin on social media


A seven question ‘witter’ with Hayley Martin on how she’s finding the increased use of social media on the second year of the Communications and Media (BA Hons) course at Bournemouth University‘s prestigious Media School.

Q: How are you finding the experience of blogging?

A: I like the concept of it and I’ve found some really interesting blogs to read, but I’m just getting into what to write.

Q: What do you prefer about blogging to Twitter?

A: You can go into more detail about what you’re interested in, but I don’t think you can have a blog without Twitter to blog about.

Q: What do you find most useful about Twitter?

A: All the PR and social media people I’ve made friends contact with on there and getting random news in my feed.

Q: How do you feel if, for whatever reason, you cannot access your social media for a length  of time.

A: I’d like to say it wouldn’t bother me, but I think I’d feel a bit cut off from the world. It’s just so easy to get hold of people on SNS and social media.

Q: Where do you see computer technology going next?

A: Apparently Google will be able to anticipate what you’re searching for and not send you useless or irrelevant sites.

Q: Why do you think social media is so important?

A: Because everyone wants to belong somewhere and with social media there’s so many opportunities for people to join that no one needs to feel left out.

Q: If you were a fruit, what would you be and why?

A: A star fruit, because I’m an odd shape, but when you cut me open you see how much of a star I am.

Hayley can be found on WordPress here and Twitter here.

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