Technology and Sexual Difference

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to interrogate a particular understanding of gender and technology as co-constructed from the standpoint of sexual difference theory by showing what this conceptualization of gender and technology excludes. It is also an attempt to enable an understanding of what is excluded by elaborating upon the conditions for thinking technology, gender and sexual difference differently. I further ask: what is the current status of the relation between technology and sexual difference and how can we think about technology in relation to a sexual difference that is yet to come?Methodologically, I answer these questions by means of an analogy, drawing upon Claire Colebrook's systematization of feminist perspectives on the rela tion between body and thought/philosophy as weak and strong theses. I argue that, similarly, there are two theses about the relation between gender and technology. The weak thesis understands the relation between masculinity and technology to be inessential and merely the result of a historical association. Also, in this weak thesis, the relation between sex and gender is taken to be both contingent and arbitrary, as in Moira Gatens' analytic interpretation of the sex/gender distinction. In the strong thesis, the relation between sex and gender is contingent but nonarbitrary and technology is essentially ena bled as a particular metaphysical way of thinking. It is within this strong thesis, I argue, that the relation between a different concept of technology and a yet-to-come sexual difference can be elaborated. The concept of technology I arrive at in the first part of this thesis is one that refers, not to a what, to certain technologies, but rather to a how, to the conditions this technology must facilitate - those of a metaphysics of negativity and touch, in Luce Irigaray's terminology.In the second half of the dissertation, I analyze three cases that exemplify a commitment to the weak thesis of gender and technology. I call them the methodological, the epistemological and the policy cases. My analysis closely examines the assumptions about gender and technology that are being made in these cases in order to render visible the way in which what they exclude has implications for thinking differently the relation between sexual difference and technology.

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