Media and technology have presented our humanly bodies in ways that alter our views and awareness toward our physical appearance. Due to these representations on the media and technological advancement, nowadays many people have developed a specific perception of what human body is or is not attractive. In regards to women, back in the 19th Century women’s attractiveness depended mostly on how healthy she looked, meaning if her body is fleshy enough to be capable of carrying a child. However, now with our exposure to media and technology women’s attractiveness is typically described by how close they are to a 34-24-32 figure.
Moreover, our advanced technology has brought along with it the cyborg-a human body and technology intersected, which lead women’s image in the world to be further threatened by media. This growing cyborg phenomenon can cause anxieties for future perspectives, particularly in terms of women’s bodies. All of a sudden, women might want to be seen as these mechanical creatures made out of metal. Women are still struggling to be accepted as equal due to our society’s high influence by biased media and technology that demonstrates negative portrayals and feedbacks toward women and their bodies.
WHAT IS CYBORG?
Cyborg, as Donna Harway defines in “A Manifesto for Cyborgs,” is a “cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.” (Devoss 835) Most of the time the term cybrog is used in medicine, where a man or a woman repair or overcome the physical constraints of their bodies by cybernetic technology- bionic, or robotic, implants. While the cyborgs Harway refers to are images and dolls of robots that basically have the shape of a human being’s body, but instead the skin looks like it is covered or perhaps replaced with metal. Cyborg representations of our bodies, specifically women’s bodies, cause a false perception and alter attitudes toward women and sexuality.
Allure of the CYBORG
At first, the gender of many cyborg dolls or images online was not at all specific. Though, as the cyborgs became more popular they started to represent explicit gender characteristics. In “Rereading Cyborg Women: The Visual Rhetoric of Images of Cyborg (and Cyber) Bodies on the World Wide Web” Dï¿½nielle DeVoss examines these cyborg images, and describes how they develop “contemporary notions of masculinity, femininity, heterosexuality, and power.” (DeVoss 838)
These different images of cyborgs online distort the way people perceive the human bodies and initiate an attraction to unreal human images. As DeVoss argues, these cyborg images online are actually cyber images, “the term ‘cyber’ refers to… cyber bodies, ‘high-tech’ bodies that, instead of problematizing representations of bodies and the heterosexual imperative in much visual representation, reproduce norms of sexuality and the sexualization of certain women’s bodies, and validate the male gaze.”(DeVoss 838) This fascinating new representation of a woman’s body might entertain the human male, and lead him to be attracted to an unreal human being and furthermore have unreal expectations.
For instance, in the article DeVoss includes some images from the World Wide Web female cyborgs in sexualized poses. One is a picture of a robot woman where the only facial features are sensuous lips. She is kneeling, holding the front of her thong bodysuit open, almost revealing her breasts. This unrealistic body figure, with full-size breasts attached to a tiny body may attract human males, even if the cyborg image does not include any autonomy or anatomy of a female body. This increased popularization in women cyborgs is a bit intimidating. Males become attracted to these unreal metal coated cyborgs, without any exposure to human skin and natural body.
On the other hand, another picture in the article exposed the “‘artificial girls’ designed for sexual pleasure…[fake] women [bodies] partially or completely nude, some of their body parts replaced or removed, and metal subsurface showing through.” (DeVoss 840) Although the images themselves are disturbing, the text that accompanies the images is equally as disturbing. For example, the text comforts that “Andrea comes with removable limbs for better storage” (DeVoss 840) in case she breaks. Therefore, some males take pleasure in these technological and mechanical women’s bodies- whenever an arm or a leg is not attractive they can simply replace it. Women throughout centuries were portrayed as objects to males, but now with the advanced technology males have created the womanly object they always craved for.
Media revelation of the cyborg absolutely can lead our society to believe that this is how a real female body should look and act. Women observing these sexualized female cyber dolls might feel as though the cyborg women are directing the society away from being attracted to real women’s bodies by fascinating, attracting, and eventually winning over male’s attention. Consequently, our future is in danger due to the media and technology; soon we might be so detached from one another that women might not have a role in society at all. Perhaps these “high- tech” cyber bodies will have a mechanical reproductive system that could reproduce, so real human women will become absolutely insignificant in the world.
Cyborgs Leading to a Development in Beauty Technologies Due to our technology advancement and media influence about cyborgs, women have had the urge to become extra beautiful, extra thin, and extra womanly by using many different technologies such as bodybuilding, cosmetic surgery, and more. As Marleen Barr proclaims in “Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg Women,” “although technology enables us to remake and reconfigure the body its spatial locality, old cultural standards prevail: cosmetic surgery allows women better to conform to female beauty standards and women are harassed in cyberspace.” (Barr 131) Women’s harassment by cyberspace might be interpreted by how social and cultural expectations force women to become a certain way.
A woman in her 60’s that undergoes a cosmetic surgery to become young and beautiful as the cyber body, only leads me to believe she is an insecure, vulnerable woman- she is incapable of dealing with the natural cycle of life. Then again, women in society are exposed and threatened by this young anorexic provoking media. These technologies, such as plastic surgeries, have only developed because of our media, slowly tricking us to believe that only a certain type of body is attractive and accepted. Furthermore, women start to believe that this is the only way to be accepted and therefore heard in our society. Even though many women might be aware of their opportunity to simply ignore the media, they are already steeped in this idea that cyber women are the image to follow instead of their image.
Theories of Cyborg Feminism to Contemporary Media and Technology Mechanical and artificial women are not the only form to negatively represent the women’s bodies. Other forms of media and technologies have portrayed women bodies negatively and threatened women’s attitudes toward their bodies and self conscious.