Culture

Cyborg Madness: Information, Power and Dehumanization

Haraway, in her Cyborg Manifesto, is trying to get us to think about, from a social feminism perspective with a slant of postmodernism, a future with gender free feminism through the use of a “cyborg” that is all things while at the same time being none of them. Through this perspective she asserts that the control and flow of information define power and this power is used to turn everything into production, reproduction and communication as she terms “the informatics of domination”. Haraway is trying to get us to think about how hardship brings kinship, and that this can span across race, gender and class. There is room even in the foretold dark hour for reformation through “discourses of subversion and transformation”.

She assumes that her argument for a gender-free feminism might be well received by her readers, because she ventures into this cyborg analogy as a means to explore that knowing that her claim will keep the reader engaged or ‘listening’. Haraway also assumes that other ‘conversations’ have not considered the power of information as a serious factor in the world of modern feminism and hinges a good bit of her argument on how this shapes our reality and causes our domination.

My main critique for this essay is that in choosing something so out there, a cyborg nation, Haraway alienates much of her audience. I imagine her saying, no worries, I just wanted to have this conversation with my colleagues anyway – admitting that her concept is beyond what many newly interested can struggle to grasp and interpret soundly. While I imagine her being a ‘spit-fire’ kind of person, I realize that this may be a ploy to shock the reader and carry them with her into her reasoning, however I feel that the manner in which she presents her cyborg theory just exploits the boundaries of sensationalism in a way that likely ‘turns off’ many readers and her audience suffers for. This critique is to consider your message valuable enough that you present it in a manner ‘worthy’ of the common people, or at a minimum the emerging feminist scholar. The more a reader must struggle to understand the less likely that you’ll see mileage of discussion from your efforts; instead it may be merely discarded.

Now that I understand this essay a bit more, and it was put into perspective against Anzaldúa’s mesitza’s new consciousness, I can understand what she’s getting at a bit better. Without that connection my comprehension of her intent in this essay was very low. The message was lost on me. I feel, however, that the dramatic dehumanization that she causes through the use of the cyborg metaphor causes me to step back a bit and to consider her theory with a more wary eye. I understand how she feels that the information of domination actually have the same effect of dehumanizing our human experiences, however the cyborg is presented by Haraway as a vehicle in which we can understand her vision of a prepared being in the future. I understand the cyborg as the ideal by which she feels we can attain to then make a difference. However, dehumanizing this ideal means that I can’t relate or warm to her theory. Sure, we may be dehumanized by the power structure around us, but I cannot see how that should or is in some manner the way by which we would reach an ideal. (Does that make sense?)

Overall I think that Haraway’s perspective on the information of domination is compelling and warrants further inspection. From it I picture the Microsoft or Google-ization of the world in a manner which leaves us all less than human subjects of another’s will. Also, I’ll note that I understood her critiques of the other feminist’s works she references in the essay.

Haraway, D. (1991). A Cyborg Manifesto. Nature, 14941, 149-181. Routledge.

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