Cyberfeminism Revisited


Sometimes to take three steps forward, one has to take two steps back. I wonder what would happen if we went back to appreciate cyberfeminism. At a time when there are news reports about women leaving the tech industry 'in droves', what lost ambitions for another future for flesh and tech might we find?

Actually, before there was cyberfeminism, there was Shulamith Firestone's remarkable book of 1970, The Dialectic of Sex, a classic of second wave feminism, and in some ways stilll the most radical in its vision for a time when tech could end the tyrrany of biology as destiny. Verso will be republishing it soon.

Recently, Vice did this terrific interview with pioneering 1990s cybefemminist group VNS Matrix, who I remember well from the early Australian and then international new media avant-gardes f the time. As VNS Co-founder Francesca da Rimini says:

"In the early 1990s, informational capitalism hadn’t quite taken root. The internet was far less regulated, far less commodified. More of a maul and a maw than a mall. There seemed to be endless possibilities, it was a field of immanence, of becoming. And it was slow, low-res, glitch. Before ‘glitch’ became a cultural movement. But it’s easy to be nostalgic for that time."

The whole interview is worth a read. Perhaps rather than be nostalgic, we can pick back over the movement looking for tools and images and ideas for today.