Paper 2

Choose one of the topics below and write a short critical essay of 3–5 pages in response to it, with reference to at least two class texts. Be sure that you have a clear thesis statement articulating your argument in response to the question you have chosen, and that you support your essay with definitions and examples from our readings or class discussions.

  1. What is a feminist technology? Consider an example (it may be one we read about and discussed in class, like cosmetic surgery, birth control pills, the artificial womb, the vacuum cleaner, the breast pump or the tampon, or another different one of your own choosing) and explain what claims have been made for it as a feminist technology. Do you agree that this technology promotes freedom/liberation for women? Why or why not? What is the distinction being made between a "feminist" and a "feminine technology," and is this a useful one? Utilize Johnson’s distinction between a consideration of the artifact itself and the sociotechnical system in which it operates in framing your answer.
  2. Donna Haraway has offered the mythic cyborg as a metaphor that has potential to "suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves" (181). Choose an example of a contemporary cyborg or cyborgian technology (it may be a prosthetic, a biomedical intervention, or something less invasive such as wearable technology), and consider how/whether/to what extent this technology is disrupting conventional social (binary) systems, such as dichotomies between male/female, animal/human, animal-human/machine, ability/disability. What significance does access and deployment/usage have in thinking about the implications of these cyborgs? Do they change the meaning of what it is to be human? Consider aspects of race, class, and gender in your discussion.

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