Science Fiction Studies

#81 = Amount 27, Component 2 = July 2000

The Fetishization of Masculinity in Science Fiction: The Cyborg and also the Console Cowboy

One significant element of modern technofetishism could be the intensification of our social lust for brand new technologies. We come across such «technolust» celebrated in Wired magazine’s regular «Fetish» spot; this covers a variety of new services from technical devices for instance the MindDrive—a sensor sleeve that slips onto the index little finger for all game players whom tire of keeping a joystick—to brand brand new and much more manly means of consuming ginseng. As Tim Barkow writes, «Brewing up tea as being a boon to your manhood simply too femme? At final there’s a way of getting your everyday dosage of ginseng that is as butch as the root’s reputation. » (65).

Wired’s ginseng fetish is exposing, for just what has reached stake listed here is not merely a type of commodity fetishism. Wired’s ad evokes a psychoanalytic framework in that the fetish wards from the risk of feminization. In orthodox psychoanalytic readings, it is usually the girl that is fetishized; the fetish masks her horrifying lack of intimate huge difference, the sight of which may be a supply of castration anxiety for a man subject. In this reading, the fetish stands set for the woman’s missing phallus and facilitates the disavowal of her «castration, » protecting the male topic through the looked at his very own feasible «feminization. » The new form of ginseng as a phallic fetish in similar fashion, Wired promotes. Faced because of the castrating possibility of brewing tea, a man subject is conserved because of the brand brand new, technologically-advanced, and accordingly butch ginseng, which functions as a phallic fetish by shoring up the masculinity for the implied audience of Wired mag. He, presumably, could be the brand brand brand new technoman in technolust together with different fetishes or technoprosthetics, that are desirable simply because they help reestablish their masculinity in a continually fragmenting, decentered, and world that is chaotic.

The technoman’s home is in science fiction in popular culture. And it’s also sf that provides us most abundant in fascinating dreams by which technology runs as fetish and prop for the thought masculinity in a postmodern and context that is posthuman. In this paper i am going to argue that sf offers two primary models whereby masculinity is fetishized, and therefore, despite their obvious distinctions, the hypermasculine cyborg additionally the system cowboy are, in reality, both creations of fetishistic dreams. I shall additionally declare that the need that is fetish continually be phallic and that cyberpunk’s event of technology as being a intimate and commodity fetish shows, on occasion, a postmodern looks of hybridity. Unlike the phallic fetish that creates a conservative paradigm of imaginary sexual sameness within an intimate economy of wholeness and absence (phallic and castrated), postmodern fetishism can create and proliferate non-normative distinctions, specially during the software of this technical and also the corporeal. This really is particularly obvious in its representations of this «new technoflesh» which makes redundant any single tale concerning the meaning associated with the fetish, in addition to any tries to fix absolute definitions of sexual huge difference.

In Electronic Eros: systems and Desire into the Postindustrial Age, Claudia Springer contends that though some popular tradition texts reproduce old technoerotic conventions according to their equation of technology with phallic energy, electric technology (fluid, fast, and tiny, with mysteriously hidden interior workings) has feminized the technoerotic imagery of other texts (8-10). Springer’s argument may be extended to an option regarding the technofetish that could be phallic, leading to hyper-inflated representations of masculinity (the Terminator and Robocop, as an example), or feminized (the matrix into which William Gibson’s cyberpunk technocowboys penetrate).

A novel by Gibson has apparent distinctions of medium, market, and context from a movie like Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). But, both are, as Springer points down, an element of the culture that is popular, where debates and anxieties about sex and sex are expressed through technoerotic metaphors and imagery. Therefore as opposed to institute a binary between «high» literary sf such as for example Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984) and a «low» mass-culture movie such as Terminator 2, this paper is alternatively worried about the dreams of techno-masculinity because they are built in these texts. It must be emphasized why these dreams aren’t restricted into the texts We discuss right right right here; they circulate as endless quotations throughout popular tradition. Both Neuromancer and Terminator 2 because of the high intertextual resonance of their technoerotic imagery despite their differences, I have selected for discussion. The Terminator is now a social symbol of male cyborgification, their hyper-muscular image endlessly recycled in cultural services and products from movies to toys to advertising; analogously, Gibson’s imagery associated with the womb-like computer areas within which their cyberjockeys thrive continues to move in such current movies due to the fact Matrix (1999).

These two fantasized and fetishized technomasculinities have been in excess of their sex norms: the male cyborg exhibits a hypermasculinity and also the system cowboy is feminized through their relationship to technology. In either case, on the other hand to orthodox psychoanalytic readings that influence that women can be fetishized while guys fetishize, during these sf examples it is mainly guys who’re refitted and fetishized, and whom display a myriad of technoparts to be able to determine a technomasculinity that is new. The fantasy of the technoman also disavows lack, although male rather than female lack is disavowed by these technoprosthetic fetishes like the fantasy of the fetishized woman.

One a reaction to this psychoanalytic rereading would be to object that as these postmodern narratives are typical surface, to see into them a masking of male absence takes a mental type of analysis which is not appropriate since it posits various levels of subjective level (for instance, aware and unconscious). I would personally argue, nevertheless, why these narratives try not to constantly provide a postmodern construction of identification relating to that the topic is fragmented, partial, and decentered. 1 there clearly was a stress during these narratives between representations of postmodern subjectivity and depictions of an conventional and old-fashioned action-hero masculinity that have not yet accepted its decentering. This might be a masculinity that the technofetish has the capacity to retain in play, just because from time to time notably ironically.

The fetish functions to fix «woman’s lack, » to mask her «wound, » and to disavow the castration anxiety it causes in classical psychoanalysis. As Freud writes:

Whenever now we declare that the fetish is a replacement for your penis, i will definitely produce frustration; thus I hasten to incorporate that it’s maybe perhaps not a replacement for almost any opportunity penis, but also for a specific and penis that is quite special was in fact vitally important in very early childhood but had later on been lost. To place it more clearly: the fetish is an alternative for the woman’s (the mother’s) penis that the young boy once believed in and—for reasons familiar to us—does not need to stop. (152-53)

Freud, using «the small kid» while the norm, theorizes that this kid, whenever confronted by the fact their mom won’t have a penis, fantasizes that the effective dad has castrated her. The boy that is little his or her own castration and death, for to eliminate their narcissistically spent organ would add up to both. He fantasizes that the daddy can take revenge upon him for their patricidal oedipal dreams, dreams for which he imagines which he has exclusive use of the caretaker. In normal development, in accordance with Freud, this castration risk encourages the child to make far from the «castrated» mother and also to determine with all the daddy, trying out in the method a heterosexual topic place.

The fetishist alternatively disavows difference that is sexual a fetish item that is a replacement for the mother’s imaginary phallus. The fetish is actually an object—a that is inanimate boot, a stiletto heel, a PVC corset. Based on Freud, the»remains that are fetish token of triumph throughout the risk of castration and a security against it» (154). The fetish object serves to repair the thought mutilations associated with mom; it masks lack, and therefore protects the fetishist from their worries of castration. When you look at the Freudian interpretation, as soon as the girl wears the fetish she becomes the «phallic woman» within the fetishist’s imagination. The fetish provides a magical defense against the horror of castration signified by feminine genitalia and therefore allows the fetishist to steadfastly keep up a heterosexual orientation that could otherwise be too terrifying to consider.