Technically, a Utopia
Fighting for a feminist future in Silicon Valley and beyond
The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Start-Up Culture
"Feminism," Shulamith Firestone wrote, “is the inevitable female response to the development of a technology capable of freeing women from the tyranny of their sexual-reproductive roles.” This meant not just that technology could eradicate social inequalities by rendering physical ones unimportant, but that it could allow us to imagine the possibility of equality in the first place. In her 1970 book, The Dialectic of Sex, Firestone argued that, pace Marx and Engels, sex oppression is the oldest form of oppression: Since the dark ages, women had been rendered physically weaker thanks to their near-constant state of pregnancy—and this impairment ensured men’s ultimate dominion over them. It followed that with changes in reproductive technology—birth control and, as Firestone enthusiastically prophesied, externalized cyberwombs—women would gain the potential to free themselves from this centuries-old subjugation. She envisaged a world in which “genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally.”
Following Firestone’s lead, other feminists hailed technology as a means of transcending sexual difference. In 1983, Donna Haraway wrote the trippy, provocative “A Cyborg Manifesto,” which announced that “the relation between organism and machine has been a border war,” while suggesting that the coming convergence of flesh and technics might do away with gender altogether. We could then evolve into cyborg beings of diverse origin. If the search for a solution to gender inequality had run aground on the weakness of the flesh, this bold new group of feminist
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