Pauline van Mourik Broekman on 24 Aug 2001 10:32:27 -0000

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Re: [oldboys] Re: maria fernandez/suhail malik on cyberfeminism


> >Donna Haraway is very mystified by this resurgence in interest ;) ).
>reg. this i'd say that it just reflects a general need for 'prophecy', and 
>if a thinker manages to condense a complex construct of ideas into a handy 
>formula like a manifesto, a star is born.

Yes, which explains the first and perhaps lasting impact... but what I 
think is occurring now, or at least with things like the totally mistakenly 
entitled 'Cyborg Manisto' associated with Adbusters 
([] which was a spoof lambasting the 
oldest-fashioned version of the cyborg and seemed wholly unaware of 
Haraway's different formulation), is that it's coming back again, but in a 
kind of amnesiac haze, and, unlike before, accompanied by serious 
animosity. This is what I believe mystifies her - not the initial interest.

>i, personally, always understood cyberfeminism as an operational mode 
>which is first of all, based on activity, which means you become a 
>cyberfeminist by developing your own cyberfeminist theory/ piece/ 
>work/thought - whatever medium you prefer to work in - and contribue this 
>to the discourse. the discourse, at least the one around obn is not just 
>open enough to allow all possible approaches, but obn's basic idea is to 
>build platforms which allow exactly this.
>that is why i have never accepted a critique like the one from maria, 
>saying cyberfeminism is not political or critical or radical or whatever 
>nice adverbs there are around. why doesn't she [simply] formulate her idea 
>of a political cyberfeminism and contributes it? why is it the better 
>political gesture to blame others for not doing what i think has to be 
>done? i am happy that this very comfortable gesture doesn't work any 
>longer with cyberfeminism.

Well, I feel very uncomfortable speaking for someone else, and as you seem 
to imply that Maria is on this list, I'm sure this won't last for long, but 
surely these two things aren't mutually exclusive? First of all, her points 
re-emphasize Haraway's and presumably go along with cyberfem's 
'non-natural' use of technological tools; second, I think it's clear from 
everything's she's saying that she thinks the story ain't over - as it were 
- but yes, that there's a frustration there at the lack of specificity 
regarding what are broadly understood as its aims, and the 'backpeddling' 
on the feminism half of its name; third, I think she's trying to reclaim 
for something-like-cyberfeminism a far more diverse understanding of what 
'cyber' might be in the global economy - to bring in all the far flung 
female identitities which Haraway brought into the equation. Fair cop, no? 
Can't *that* be a contribution, from a practitioner whose 'medium' is text? 
When she talks about careererism, well, that stuff is so personal that the 
single term cyberfeminism just becomes too big an umbrella to really 
categorise the who and the why, but it's fair to posit it as a worry: even 
if it only functions to be shot down, including by those who may think 
careererism is a useful political strategy.

By the way, Suhail Malik lectures in art theory in the fine art dept. of 
Goldsmiths, here in London. Essentially, in this article he was revisiting 
a subject that was already a bane of his in 1994 - when he wrote one of our 
(Mute's) first big essays: The Immateriality of the Signifier: The Flesh 
and the Innocence of Michael Jackson.

Byeeee, Pauline.

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