Manufacturing SMART Vaginas:
Cyborgs And The Future of The Ubiquitous
An essay that dissects the socio-political realm of technology as it intersects with the bodies of women. Delving both into Sarah Kember’s notion of the “ubiquitous” and theories of cyborg from Donna Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto’, the essay ultimately poses the challenge of a feminist interpretation of technology within impositions of domination over our bodies.
This is an old piece of work that I reworked. I got rid of the bits I didn’t think was relevant while retaining some older parts. It’s safe to say that while discussing Haraway and the Cyborg Manifesto, that a bio-essentialist critique would emerge. I tried my very best to bear that in mind while I was re-working this essay (that I wrote more than a year ago) I understand that the very definition of vagina is extremely essentialist and therefore very problematic. However, writing about the reproduction of machinist and masculine interpretations of “woman”, essentialist language was unfortunately what followed.
The political, the social, and the body are topics very often undervalued in technological advances. That is because it runs counter to what the public understands as the purpose and use of technology – being that it will elevate humanity to a position devoid of all social problems.
There is an assumption that the ultimate goal for the advancement of technology is to somehow alleviate labour – labour within the workforce, labour of the personal, and essentially the labour of our bodies. It is assumed that the progression of technology will and can, quite magically, create a world in which all of our problems will disappear. Quite contrarily, the acceleration of technology appears to only be the means to a utopian solutionist end. When in reality, technology shrinks labour into extremely limiting and constricting gendered boxes; quite the opposite of what it aims to solve.
The perception that the elements of body, society, and technology live in distinction from one another, and from politics of gender, are inherently problematic, as is the idea that one is capable of absolving the other. Our understanding of technology as a solution is ultimately part of the wider problem. As long as this notion remains uncontested, social and political issues will remain sidelined in technological approaches, and will continue to perpetuate a form of invisible labour on our bodies, and reproduce these normative gendered approaches within new technology.
SMART Janet Smart
Sarah Kember describes this very paradigm colliding gender with the technological world as one that is ubiquitous, so far as to link women’s bodies directly to its ubiquity: everywhere, and everyWEAR; constantly subjected to scrutiny, regulation, and self regulation, to produce ever more productive and ever more “perfect” versions of ourselves through devices we come in contact with. Kember images an indistinguishable relationship within the gendered realm of ubiquitous technology and female bodies.
Describing Janet Smart in her book “iMedia”, Janet Smart being a metaphor for the many, if not all ubiquitous women in the world, Kember refers to SMART technology as a medium of feminized labour. She connects the labour of Janet as a [female body] merging with the environment around her. Janet moves from her SMART bed, to her SMART kitchen, to her SMART toilet, where there’s a SMART mirror inscribed with a digitised to-do list full of unsurprisingly heteronormative tasks ahead of her i.e. shopping and baking. All this and more before Janet even gets to brush her teeth or make her morning coffee.
Even though the idea of having a choice is apparent, and Janet is presented as a creature of independence, it is an illusion of agency that has been painted for her by automation and SMART tech. She is inevitably being manipulated by her environment and subsequently policed by it. She alters her behaviour throughout the day, restructuring her manipulation into a facade of the agency of productiveness (Kember, 2015:81). This is labour,
“Janet doesn’t get to choose, as she lives through her day, she becomes an agent of her own reconstitution as a political subject” (YouTube, 2017).
While the idea of a ubiquitized SMART Janet, subjugated to producing feminized labour via her body does indeed seem like a thing that has been born out of modern technological advancements, it is certainly not new. Neither is it solely tied to contemporary automation and technology.
The Paradigm of Hysteria
During the 1800 – 1900s, women who experienced symptoms ranging from anxiety and irritability to vaginal lubrication and abdominal pains were often subjected to the diagnosis of Hysteria. This was a condition in which doctors believed only the interventions by androcentric and heterocentric medicine could absolve. Such interventions were not only bodily intrusive, but were often focused on the ““normal” het-erosexual […] penetration of the vagina” (Maines, 2001:23) as a form of treatment or cure.
The diagnosis of hysteria in women in 1800s was so widespread that physicians began employing the use of technology in order to help relieve themselves of the fatigue caused by giving therapeutic massages. Technology became a way for doctors, or therapists, to expedite the process of inducing, or producing a female orgasm. Incorporating technology into the practice, many of the treatments evolved from manually administered massages to include hydro massages to the womb, clitoral electromechanical vibrators, and penetrative dildos. These apparatuses were designed to alleviate the laborious task of producing a female orgasm, gesturing to notion that women were in essence, incapable of being an autonomous agent to their own pleasure and understanding their own bodies.
The medical world was turning to new technology to administer a wide array of treatments for what they believed were symptoms of chronic hysteria, to which the cure was to produce an orgasm (ibid:22-25). Thus became the most widely understood, ubiquitized, and embodied technological use against the female body, routinely exercised through the most politicised location on the female body – the vagina. This phenomenon was later defined by Foucault as the “hysterisization of women’s bodies”, referring to the disease paradigm that framed female bodies as one constantly regarded as highly sexual and an object of public and medical knowledge, as well as a matter requiring control (Foucault, 1990:11).
Technological advancements made to treat hysteria during this period of “hysterisization” continued to proliferate, with an array of devices spilling out of the medical market made to tackle the various challenges posed by the perceived failing capabilities of a functional orgasming female body.
In the 1900s, Freud concluded that women were only capable of two types of orgasms, a vaginal orgasm and a clitoral orgasm, the latter of which was deemed by him as “immature” and “infantile”. He asserted that women who could not achieve, or produce an orgasm through vaginal penetration were stunted as result of arrested development in the juvenile stage (Freud,1975). This became a widely accepted notion for which set hysteria treatment, and the technology that accompanied it, on a new trajectory, one for which we now know was a pseudo claim to a psychoanalytic and scientific revelation.
Nevertheless, Freud’s “revelation” in psychoanalysis resulted in a fundamental shift within hysterical treatment. More focus was thereby placed on the vagina as the appropriate contributor to an orgasm, and technological approaches to treating hysteria began to evolve to fit that shape as well. The conclusion made by Freud created the socialized belief that female sexuality and the only acceptable route to female pleasure was situated strictly in the vagina through penetration. Hence turning the role of the clitoris in the understanding of female orgasms and arousal into one that was largely misunderstood and disregarded. The vagina became the sole vessel to which hysteria treatments were to be administered.
Much like the labouring, ubiquitous, female body as described by Kember, the technology that arose during the ‘period of hysterisization’ is similar. When measuring the efficiency of the technology for hysterical treatment, the characteristic merging of capabilities between the vagina, its ability to produce orgasms, and it’s aiding technological counterpart is apparent.
The productivity of the machine administering the orgasm is measured hand in hand with the efficiency of the vagina that is able to produce one. The interwoven language of capabilities between technology and vagina thereby becomes almost indiscernible, where the description of one can no longer be distinguished from the other; the machine that labours well is only as good as a vagina that orgasms efficiently. This is further articulated in Maines’s book where the language describing optimal productivity of the vagina at the time was attributed to an almost factory-like commodity, outlined by it’s ability to churn out orgasms in a
“less capital intensive[…] more reliable, portable” manner (Maines, 2001:30).
It is therefore understood that within the paradigm of hysterisization, the female vagina is simply another component to which capitalistic mediums and technology can, and will ultimately relieve. Whereby if the sole goal is to produce an orgasm, then the machine, already exemplary in its form, will facilitate that goal until it is achieved. However, it is only under capitalist masculine interpretations can this happen.
The woman who is unable to have a vaginal orgasm through penetration is perceived as inadequate, a product of her own affliction; immature, unhuman, hysterical and faulty. She is to work harder, just as a machine, to diminish the body’s hysterisization, and to induce in herself a vaginal orgasm. She is to continuously labour, through her vagina, an ever more flawless, ever more effective version of her orgasming self, without ever engaging with the very organ on her body that delivers orgasmic pleasure – the clitoris. And if she fails, she is just as faulty as the machine that fails along with her.
This collision between body and machine is ubiquitous in its development. Women were unconsciously producing, through machine intervention, a labouring vagina intertwined with its physical and social environment, capable of readjusting itself to mitigate hysteria diagnosis within the body and away from medical damnation. The woman ultimately doesn’t have a role in mediating her own sexual pleasure, and as Kember describes, is turned into an agent of her own political and social subjugation.
Hysterization Within New Technology
While hysteria treatments no longer exist, and the violence of hysterisization has since been forgotten by the medical community and the public, it appears that the technological paradigm that had attempted to “curb” hysteria diagnosed in women have not been at all eradicated. But rather, repositioned from the hands of doctors, and subsequently placed in the hands of women themselves.
There is a growing emergence of SMART technology that exists today that supposedly allows women a new sense of closeness with their bodies through datarizing and monitoring algorithms. Connected via applications on their SMART phones and other devices, the experience of interacting with such SMART technology is often presented as highly personalized; where women can hold the reigns of technology quite literally, in the palms of their hands.
Such SMART technologies range from sex toy apps to period tracking apps, and stake a claim on the ability to improve the sexual and bodily health of women. They are often marketed with an emphasis on offering women the ease, convenience, and agency to use such apps to their own satisfaction and benefit. However, these “benefits” only remain to serve as a perpetuating structure for technology that surpasses women themselves in understanding the capabilities of their own bodies.
The notion of SMART technology first became prominent in the 1990s, originally a diagnostic method developed to cope with computer failure. SMART, or ‘Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology’ was categorized as technology that was able to predict computer failure and produce a diagnostic report before it happened as a preventive measure. According to the Encyclopaedia of Information Science and Technology, smart technology refers to
“technologies (includes physical and logical applications in all formats) that are capable to adapt automatically and modify behavior to fit environment […] is also capable of learning, […] using experience to improve performance, anticipating, thinking and reasoning about what to do next, with the ability to self-generate and self sustain” (Igi-global.com, 2017).
It is under the capacity of “behaviour development” and “performance improvement” do these SMART devices continue to exist. But only in bid to alleviate female bodies from its perceived bodily limitations, and to elevate it to that of which is recognized as socially adequate and functional. It disregards the autonomy of women in defining what is a functional body is for and within themselves.
The technological endeavour to meet these developmental goals fail however, to consider that when capabilities of SMART get inscribed with the intentions of capitalism, a system that ensures the economic profit and political gain of those in power, it inevitably reproduces existing, damaging gender normative and heteronormative models.
SMART technology, while striving to counter real problems faced by women such as infertility, sexual non-pleasure, bladder control, and recovery from childbirth, continue to sustain an incredibly disconcerting sociopolitical dimension parallel to that of the hysterisization period
One embodiment of such SMART technology is the Elvie, an award-winning pelvic floor exercise tracking device. Built to be small and discreet, it resembles a streamline silicon pod, similar to the size of a pebble. It is capable of feeding and receiving strings of information to, from, and between human and machine, as well as process data within itself. When inserted into the vagina, the Elvie sits inside of the body, and engages with the user via Bluetooth. In the form of an app on one’s iOS or Android phone, one is then able to play a series of “games” ranging in difficulty involving an on-screen gem.
The SMART functions of an Elvie work by utilizing the pelvic floor muscles in the user’s vagina. Once the pod is placed in one’s vagina, it registers the force applied by the user’s pelvic floor muscles and translates the information to the “game”, allowing you to lift, pulse, or even hit moving targets on your phone.
The data collected is so sensitive that an LV score (a measurement in Newtons of the amount of force being applied to the pod) is fed to back to the user, allowing her to be aware of, and therefore altering the strength exerted by the pelvic floor muscles in her vagina (Elvie.com, 2017).
Comparing Elvie to what is traditionally regarded as SMART technology, it is similarly able to produce diagnostic reports, or “instant bio feedbacks” of one’s pelvic floor muscles to its user. But while the tracker is the device producing the diagnostic reports, it is inevitably the vagina that labours, creating an environment for the tracker to then evaluate. The information collected is then transmitted to the bearer of the vagina, who uses the data to then decide whether or not to exert more or less force with her pelvic floor muscles.
Ultimately, it is the vagina that then adapts, labouring a modified version of itself in a cycle of human/machine dependent self-sustainability. Because of its active participation in this continuous loop of receiving and sending data, the latter definition of SMART technology – “capable of learning, […] using experience to improve performance, anticipating, thinking and reasoning about what to do next” – is fulfilled, not by the tracker, but by the user’s vagina. Without the labour of the vagina, the tracker is unable to complete the cycle of data feeding and receiving in its entirety.
The occurrence of inter-dependent data production between technology and vagina therefore creates an effect whereby the definition of SMART technology is allocated to the vagina and its user, rather than the tracker, due to its ability to carry out and complete the function of adapting and improving performance. SMART technology developed for devices like the Elvie is consequently understood as yet another imagined route of feminized labour through which women are presented with the promise of self improvement, while preserving the illusion of autonomy and agency.
According to an article by elle.com promoting the pelvic floor exercise tracker,
“weakening of the pelvic floor can also have a negative effect on one's sex life […] When you strengthen this area, it is easier to get a tighter grip during sex, which makes for a more pleasurable experience for all parties involved” (Strauss, 2017).
Even with a list of long term health benefits like organ prolapse and urine leakage prevention, the Elvie persists to advertise with a strong emphasis placed on the benefits of increased vaginal sexual pleasure in women (Elvie.com, 2017).
While advocating for a more pleasurable sexual experience, the Elvie routinely excludes the discussion of the clitoris and the role it plays in delivering female pleasure. Choosing instead, to focus primarily on the vagina. Like in the case of hysteria treatments, vaginas continue to be viewed as the dominant route for sex and pleasure.
The Elvie renders its user a tool for self regulation, morphed into the gatekeeper of her own oppression, and reinforcing the same systematic patriarchal definitions of bodily fulfilment sustained in the 1800 – 1900s. It frames the vagina as the only viable route to improving the sexual or reproductive health of female bodies. What Foucault characterized as the “hysterisization of women’s bodies” has thereby not been redefined, but instead, reoriented through SMART devices.
It seems the labouring vagina remains ubiquitous, even in the contemporary technological sense of today. Through the use of technologies like the Elvie, women are transformed into a mere device of capitalist, masculine intention – a SMART vagina – inevitably fused with the very resolution as the technology aimed at relieving its perceived limitations.
SMART Vaginas: Human or Non-Human?
The example of the Elvie explicitly outlines a diffusion between machine and body. As the device sits inside of the vagina, the distinction between what is ultimately embodied grows obscured. With the added cycle of data receiving, adapting of environment within the vagina of its user, and the subsequent feeding of information back to the machine, the division between female bodies and the functions of what characterizes SMART technology become inseparable.
The formation of SMART vaginas – neither machine, neither body; not adequately female, yet not male enough either – can therefore be recognized as the compounding of various dualisms: body and technology, human and non-human, physical and digital, feminized and masculinized, material and immaterial. The binary boundaries between what is prescribed agency and what isn’t, what is imbued power as opposed to subjugation, and what ultimately is conceived in social reality becomes increasingly vague while examining these SMART technologies and their interactions with women.
The thresholds of utility between one blends into the other, and vice versa, becoming entangled within and between. They envelope layers of both gendered and technological discourses concurrently – the ubiquitous everywhere and everyWEAR, infused simultaneously with patriarchal intentions and capitalistic reproduction, turning women into neither human nor machines; simply as yet another endlessly labouring subject of unattainable outcome. Women live undeniably, and ubiquitously, both as human and machine; essentially as cyborgs, to which SMART vaginas are simply another symptom of.
One of the earliest descriptions of a cyborg was outlined in the 1960 issue of the journal Astronautics, "Cyborgs and Space" by NASA scientists Manfred Clynes and Nathan Klein. It was a term coined by them to describe a cybernetic organism: a human-machine hybrid capable of complementing the onset of space exploration. The word “cyborg” was an amalgamation of the words “cybernetic” and “organism” and was derived from the field of cybernetics, which delineated the discipline of feedback, control, and organism at the time.
Consistently cybernetic, its purpose was to create an environment that laboured a freedom from humanly limitations in order to enlarge and expand the human experience. Simultaneously melded with the meanings of organism, a cyborg was a being imbued with technological and mechanical properties that potentially coexisted, but were still considered mutually exclusive to one another.
“The purpose of the Cyborg, as well as his own homeostatic systems, is to provide an organizational system in which such robot-like problems are taken care of automatically and unconsciously, leaving man free to explore, to create, to think, and to feel” (Clynes, M.E. and Kline, N.S., 1995).
The cyborg was envisioned at the time as exclusively male, with a strong emphasis on leaving the world of freedom to explore, create, think, and feel, entirely for men. The cyborg of Clynes and Klein’s imagining is therefore an entity of patriarchal consciousness. While women, in part excluded from the formation of its definition, and by omission, a contributor to its dream, become an unsuspecting labourer to the patriarchal masculine purpose of a cyborg.
While undoubtedly a cyborg herself – a body able to be lived in as well as apart from it’s mechanical conception, attached but still separable within the definition of what is cybernetic and what is organism – she continues to re-appropriate its purpose as one of the same. It thus disregards the politics and sociality of womanly consciousness for which it is a part of, unconsciously reproducing itself as an illusion of agency and autonomy. Clynes and Klein’s cyborg therefore produced, in effect, what Sarah Kember reiterates as the ubiquitous paradigm of feminized labour in technology.
Donna Haraway and The Ubiquitous
Donna Haraway, a prominent contemporary scientific scholar, theorist, and feminist thinker, provides a more nuanced, and perhaps offers a more forgiving reality for cyborgs and the SMART vagina. She characterizes the cyborg as being entangled between human and machine, where the line between what is technology and what is human can no longer be so clearly distinguished. Unlike Clynes’ and Klein’s, the purpose of which Haraway’s cyborg serves cannot be quite as easily outlined as well.
Haraway continues to expand on the failure to purpose a cyborg in the quote,
“machines were not self-moving, self designing, autonomous. They could not achieve man's dream, only mock it. They were not man, an author to himself, but only a caricature of that masculinist reproductive dream” (Haraway,1991:10).
To her, cyborgs are not neutral subjects, unlike machines.
A thing like the SMART vagina produces in itself a masculinist “dream” – the perfectly functioning vagina – but simultaneously mocks it, as the perfect vagina is only as perfect as the machine that is able to produce one. In this definition, the “dream” is completely diminished, or eradicated, along with the premise that built it. Haraway’s cyborg thereby lives not within but between and around these “promises”, suspicious of the very definition man aims to build of it.
SMART vaginas can therefore be interpreted under this very understanding as cyborgian entities that exist simultaneously as a creature of lived social reality, as well as a creature of fiction – just as Haraway imagines a cyborg to be. It is compounded by its many limitations of gendered and capitalist nature, concurrently an unrealistic imagining of a simply unachievable outcome.
Through the understanding of Haraway’s cyborg, we can also begin to interrogate the ambiguity of a SMART vagina as one that tears down the essentialist boundaries through which it is projected to exist, creating a framework that departs from essentialism and binaries, and replaces it with one that includes more porous feminist genealogies of technology, labour, body, gender, and capitalism within its discussion. It is Haraway’s cyborg that seeks to tear down the binaries and dualisms between the politicized male/female, feminine/masculine, human/non-human, and to depart from their patriarchal limitations. Essentially the genesis of a cyborg that lives out of a radical and feminist praxis.
Indeed, there is an expanded argument that occupies the masculine conception of technological approaches, as with the conception of the SMART vagina through ubiquitous devices described in earlier parts of this essay. Beginning with the description of the feminized labour of Janet Smart as a tool of subjugation within the technological world, to the unconscious hysterization of women, there is a ongoing discourse that supports the formation of feminized labour around and within the cyborgian woman as she exists within systems of masculine intention.
Such discussions of gender and feminist politics as it intersects and interacts with the technological realm of innovation and SMART should not be disregarded. All definitions between human and non-human get entangled and become crystallized in the making of a cyborg, and the making of the cyborg is certainly nuanced and complex.
However, the intention is not to suspend the discussion as iterated earlier, but rather, to embody Haraway’s vision of the future cyborg as one that can be built on top, or over that. I want to conceive of the SMART vagina not simply as a creature inescapable from the fact of a masculinized social reality, but one that can be reimagined to reject the very notions surrounding it.
In her seminal book, “Cyborg Manifesto”, Haraway describes the overlapping regions between technology and organisms:
“We are all Chimeras, theorised and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; inshort, we are cyborgs. Cyborgs are our ontology”. (Marciniak in Haraway,1991:1).
She displays an acknowledgement of the deeply-embedded existence of the non-human and human; that all social, political, and bodily functioning of the non-human and human are intwined within that of what we understand as reality. Haraway continuously dwells on ambiguity between the two by emphasizing the limits of what is perceived as natural and artificial, consequently redefining the cyborg as an entity that doesn’t exist simply within binaries and dualisms, but rather, envelopes all.
The cyborg, according to Haraway, reconsiders rigid, hegemonic structures of what we understand as human and in turn, develops a characterisation of a post human cyborg that undermines these very structures. The breakdown of boundaries between stern categories like animal-human, organic-machine, and physical-nonphysical is what contributes to the formation of what she considers to be cyborg – inherently a disloyal and blasphemous subject. It is within Haraway’s theories that one may come to recognize the cyborg as non-linearly conceived, just as a SMART vagina isn’t an innate product of nature or society either.
The SMART vagina reorganizes ideas about the cyborg as metaphor, but also restructures its history, social reality, and physical existence as entangled. It thus becomes embodied in an ephemeral space of conception instead. SMART vaginas are indeed inescapable as a subjugated figure; a product the masculine and patriarchal “dream, but it is also an evolving subject of the politics of body, society, gender, and feminism.
While it is recognized in Clynes’ and Klein’s cyborg and SMART devices like the Elvie as occupying the techno-patriarchal dream of freedom and agency of female bodies; labouring unendingly in the pursuit of the goal of freedom and perfection, it is simultaneously in Haraway’s imagining of a cyborg that recognises the SMART vagina as persistently defiant – refusing a reproduction of the patriarchal dream, insofar as to mock it. The cyborg as embodied in the SMART vagina breaks down the implications of a biased, patriarchal system, and forms itself around the understanding of Harawarian cyborg instead. It is consequentially enmeshed and entangled in mechanical properties, while reproducing women and the vagina as a reimagined feminist, posthuman subject of technology and the future.
In ‘Simians, Cyborgs, and Women’ Haraway elaborates that,
“[t]here is nothing naturally female that ties us together as women” (Haraway, D. and Teubner, U., 1991).
Everything created as “woman” is inherently part of systems of binaries created by masculinist and patriarchal forces, just as it is with the cyborg of feminized labour. While the conception of SMART vaginas seem to be one that outlines this “dream”, unconsciously producing a subjugated body of feminized labour, it is inevitably Haraway’s contextualising of a cyborg that allows for its porous qualities to be brought to focus. Replacing it in the realm of a “dream” and diminishing it as a masculine cyborg, and instead, as more of a Harawayan one.
The Future of SMART Vaginas and The Ubiquitous
The effect of machine and human merging is certainly not something that belongs exclusively to contemporary times. Evident during the hysterization period that occured in the 1800s – 1900s, cyborgs have always been part of the history of technology as it intersects with the politics of gender, taking on insidious roles in the lives of women through technological devices.
From hysteria to the ubiquitous, women have been engaging with the layered social and political dimensions of technology that evolved from medically administered and heterocentric treatments employed with vibrators, to the now ubiquitous use of SMART.
Today, technology still insists on telling women who we are, what we can be, what we can do with our bodies, and where we can go in the future. The existence of SMART vaginas, Elvies, and other devices that reiterate feminized labour have been permeating our human condition for a long time, and there is a framework that needs to be established for the gendered, feminist, and cyborgian discussions within it.
While Kember images the ubiquitous (Everywhere, and everyWEAR) within technology in the subjugation of women and the unconsciously labouring female bodies, Haraway imagines a human and non-human merging in a different light; one that mocks these hegemonic and heterocentric systems – a feminist cyborg counter-force.
The vision for a cyborgian future as described by Haraway is radical, non-linear, and calls for a porous landscape of existence. It is enmeshed within all encompassing definitions of science, nature, gender, and body, and thus a product of a posthuman world concerned not only with what binaries and dualisms are, but subsequently breaking them down, and embracing the various multiples that exist within it.
“Feminists re-appropriate science in order to discover and to define what is ‘natural’ for ourselves. A human past and future would be placed in our hands” (Haraway, D. and Teubner, U., 1991).
Alas, both Kember and Haraway outline the importance of recognizing gender and feminist politics within the discourse of technological approaches. The SMART vagina should not remain uncontested as key to the genesis of discussions within cyborgian realities like emerging SMART technology and the ubiquitous. It is of cyborgian nature, and holds within that, the many interpretations of body/technology, human/non-human, physical/digital, feminized/masculinized, material/immaterial. It is entangled as part of the cyborg anthology that will pave the way for future feminists to understand gender politics within new technologies.
Devices such as the Elvie are becoming more readily available to women, and have the power to potentially perpetuate social beliefs of a certain gendered existence and patriarchal feminine subjugation.
Thus, we need to continue to be suspicious of the technological world while still remaining enthusiastic about what it can mean for us. We must continue to hold on to feminist genealogies that aren’t engaged with and talked about enough, and to tear apart the ubiquitous. To engage in questions that of which technology brings with it – whose world is it making better? Ours or somebody else’s?
If we are to achieve Haraway’s dream of a cyborgian existence, it is necessary to interrogate, recontextualize, and destroy the hegemonized language of technology that exists within the masculinised spaces. We must be attentive in refuting existing technologies that politicize gender, and redirect them into expanding categories of what is cyborg and what is posthuman. Undeniably, we need to continue to rebel and queer the techno realm of “female” work, and expand the future of work itself as they are set out in current debates of innovation and tech acceleration. Essentially, the furthering of feminist work.
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