Cyberfeminism 101

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a brief introduction to cyberfeminist history and method

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Cyberfeminism 101

  1. 1. CYBERFEMINISM 101
  2. 2. <ul><ul><li>Or: what do you mean, cyberfeminism? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. When I talk about cyberfeminism I am talking about the work of artists and theorists such as
  4. 4. VNS Matrix The Old Boys Network Faith Wilding and Critical Art Ensemble Sadie Plant SubRosa Rosie X Rosie Bradotti Linda Dement Sonya Rapoprt Sussana Paassonen Verena Kuni
  5. 5. You can find links to a lot of great cyberfeminist work at www.functionfeminism.com
  6. 6. History But first, to put their work in context, here is a bit of
  7. 7. Herstory Or rather
  8. 8. <ul><li>In the early 90s, at about the same time, a few people in different places around the world started to use the term cyberfeminism </li></ul>
  9. 9. VNS Matrix <ul><li>It is hard to tell but it seems that the very first use of the term in this context was by </li></ul>In their 1991 Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century (Pronounced Venus Matrix)
  10. 11. “ four bored girls decided to have some fun with art and French feminist theory… with homage to Donna Haraway they began to play around with the idea of cyberfeminism… Beginning as if by spontaneous combustion, from a few hot nodes in Europe, America and Australia, cyberfeminism became a viral meme infecting theory, art and the academy” As Julienne Pierce explained:
  11. 12. <ul><li>But it was more than just fun - it had a huge impact </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>The Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century was integral in instilling the manifesto tradition into cyberfeminism </li></ul>
  13. 14. <ul><li>And it helped to create cyberfeminism as a movement </li></ul>
  14. 15. At around the same time in Europe The Old Boys Network was created by a group of women including Cornellia Solfrank, Faith Wilding, Yvonne Volkart and Helene von Oldenburg
  15. 16. The OBN still exists today. Check out their reading room at www.obn.org - it is an excellent resource
  16. 17. It was the old boys network that really set the terms for cyberfeminism as a movement by holding the First Cyberfeminist International
  17. 18. This was a conference within a conference - Documenta X - that was held in Kassel, Germany, in 1997
  18. 19. It was a one day session where women who had begun to work in this new field could get together, share ideas, talk about the direction they wanted to take cyberfeminism and address the question of a unified definition of cyberfeminism once and for all
  19. 20. But they did not define it
  20. 21. Well not in the traditional sense. They decided to avoid a rigid definition, or rather refused to create a definition that would force others to conform and instead they decided to create the 100 anti-theses
  21. 22. 100 Anti-theses
  22. 23. 100 Anti-theses 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance
  23. 24. 100 Anti-theses 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance 63. cyberfeminism is not a wound
  24. 25. 100 Anti-theses 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance 63. cyberfeminism is not a wound 55. cyberfeminisme n'est pas une pipe
  25. 26. 100 Anti-theses 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance 100. cyberfeminism has not only one language 63. cyberfeminism is not a wound 55. cyberfeminisme n'est pas une pipe
  26. 27. 100 Anti-theses 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance 100. cyberfeminism has not only one language 63. cyberfeminism is not a wound 55. cyberfeminisme n'est pas une pipe 14. cyberfeminism is not complete
  27. 28. 100 Anti-theses 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance 100. cyberfeminism has not only one language 63. cyberfeminism is not a wound 55. cyberfeminisme n'est pas une pipe 14. cyberfeminism is not complete 83. cyberfeminism is not about boring toys for boring boys
  28. 29. 100 Anti-theses 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance 100. cyberfeminism has not only one language 63. cyberfeminism is not a wound 55. cyberfeminisme n'est pas une pipe 14. cyberfeminism is not complete 68. cyberfeminism is not a single woman 83. cyberfeminism is not about boring toys for boring boys
  29. 30. 100 Anti-theses 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance 100. cyberfeminism has not only one language 63. cyberfeminism is not a wound 55. cyberfeminisme n'est pas une pipe 14. cyberfeminism is not complete 68. cyberfeminism is not a single woman 83. cyberfeminism is not about boring toys for boring boys 30. cyberfeminism is not without connectivity
  30. 31. 100 Anti-theses 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance 100. cyberfeminism has not only one language 63. cyberfeminism is not a wound 55. cyberfeminisme n'est pas une pipe 14. cyberfeminism is not complete 68. cyberfeminism is not a single woman 83. cyberfeminism is not about boring toys for boring boys 30. cyberfeminism is not without connectivity 65. cyberfeminismo no es una banana
  31. 32. The 100 anti-theses is a list of statements describing what cyberfeminism is not
  32. 33. The anti-theses range from playful , eg. 1. cyberfeminism is not a fragrance
  33. 34. To the more serious and instructive, eg. 100. cyberfeminism has not only one language
  34. 35. So that is what it is not .
  35. 36. But the question still feels unanswered
  36. 37. What is Cyberfeminism?
  37. 38. Yvonne Volkart from the old boys network said:
  38. 39. &quot;Cyberfeminism is a myth. A myth is a story of unidentifiable origin, or of different origins. A myth is based on one central story which is retold over and over in different variations. A myth denies ONE history as well as ONE truth, and implies a search for truth in the SPACES , in the DIFFERENCES BETWEEN the different stories. Speaking about Cyberfeminism as a myth, is not intended to mystify it, it simply indicates that Cyberfeminism only exists in plural.”
  39. 40. So I am going to hold true to the vision of my cyberfeminist foremothers and not provide you with a singular definition either
  40. 41. However…
  41. 42. I will tell you some of the things that cyberfeminism can be, to add to what it is not
  42. 43. examine the relationships between women and technology Cyberfeminism can… critique at equality in cyberspace examine relationships between bodies and technology examine technology by engaging with it disrupt the perception of technology as ‘toys for boys’ challenge established perceptions of cyberspace seek to bring about change from within playfully address feminist issues directly address feminist issues subtly address feminist issues embrace technology be humorous be fun be active be collaborative be subversive
  43. 44. Cyberfeminism can be all these things, but any individual cyberfeminist work need not be all these things at once
  44. 45. examine the relationships between women and technology critique at equality in cyberspace examine relationships between bodies and technology examine technology by engaging with it disrupt the perception of technology as ‘toys for boys’ challenge established perceptions of cyberspace seek to bring about change from within playfully address feminist issues directly address feminist issues subtly address feminist issues embrace technology be humorous be fun be active be collaborative be subversive that would be a lot to ask
  45. 46. Still, I think there is even more to cyberfeminism
  46. 47. Cyberfeminism is not just the subject matter, but also the approach taken to examine that subject matter
  47. 48. So I have developed a cyberfeminist methodology based on the art and theory of established cyberfeminists
  48. 49. And thus I present…
  49. 50. The Five Rules of Cyberfeminist Engagement*
  50. 51. The Five Rules of Cyberfeminist Engagement* * Of course, these are my rules and you are welcome to use them, but as a cyberfeminist you are free to make your own if you want, in fact you are encouraged to do so
  51. 52. 1. Remember the feminism in cyberfeminism
  52. 53. It is cyber feminism after all So this means initially examining things through a traditional feminist lens
  53. 54. 2. Engage
  54. 55. Cyberfeminism is very much connected to a DIY ethic. From the very beginning of the movement it has had a strong connection to art Most of the prominent cyberfeminists are both artists as well as theorists
  55. 56. Engagement and participation are integral parts of what makes cyberfeminism a movement beyond a feminist critique of technology There are theorists, such as Donna Haraway and Judy Wajkman who have done some awesome work in the area of women and technology, but that doesn’t necessarily make them cyberfeminists as such
  56. 57. 3. Hack
  57. 58. By this I mean, once you have engaged with the technology, don’t settle for things the way they appear It may not mean actual program hacking - although it certainly could - it means see what is there and take it and turn it into something that works for you.
  58. 59. Jon Ipolito said that electronic art was best described as ‘ creative misuse of technology ’ and I think that description is particularly fitting - which leads me to the fourth rule…
  59. 60. 4. Playfully Subvert
  60. 61. I do wonder if this is a backlash against the perception of the humorless feminist, but there is a tradition for cyberfeminist works to be playful and fun while subversive with a serious message. Kind of lighthearted with a sting
  61. 62. And lastly…
  62. 63. 5. Conspire and Collaborate And lastly…
  63. 64. This is an important one, because, while it is becoming more common, collaboration generally goes against preferred patriarchal methods of art practice where a lot of value is placed in the idea of the auteur , and works being touched by the hand of the master
  64. 65. However, when you are talking about technology , and the internet in particular, the more femininely defined collaborative approach is increasingly suitable
  65. 66. what I mean by this is if you think about a craft vs art dichotomy - current uses of technology are more analogous to craft - more like quilting than an oil painting
  66. 67. So that is what I mean when I say cyberfeminism
  67. 68. 52 Acts of Cyberfeminism http: //fiftytwoacts . wordpress .com 1st January 2008 - 31st December 2008

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