Word and Text Issue 6, “Proto-Posthumanisms” (December 2016): 95-113.


‘I’d Blush if I Could’: Intelligent Agents, Disembodied Cyborgs and The Problem of Gender

In this article, I seek to draw a lineage between the long history of the female cyborg and the interactive technologies (Siri, for example) that we carry with us everywhere today. Thirty years after the publication of Donna Haraway's seminal 'Cyborg Manifesto', the female cyborg is still an assemblaged site of power disparity. Imprisoned at the intersection of affective labour, male desire and the weaponized female body, today's iteration of the cyborg—the intelligent assistant that lives in our phone—is more virtual than organic, more sonic than tangible. Her design hinges on the patriarchal, profit-driven implementation of symbolic femininity, accompanied by an erasure of the female body as we know it, betraying the ways in which even incorporeal, supposedly 'posthuman' technologies fail to help us transcend the gendered power relations that continue to govern real human bodies.