GENDER AND TECHNOLOGY

October 2, 2014

gender

This essay aims to examine the boundaries between technology and gender.

At first, it sets guidelines of what we call technology. It depends on the different cultures of each society, and is a reflection of how human consumes and uses the objects they create. The trial will therefore also focus his interest on the reasons of why human creates technological objects. How and why some objects are exclusively for women? How the same object can takes different forms depending on whether it is for a woman or a man.
Indeed, the text emphasizes that gender is not only identifiable by words or gestures, but also by material or institutional distinction. How some objects today deliver a male or female image? How objects are appropriate to a gender ?
Indeed we see that the distinction between the genders has resulted in different structures to create a similar function (example of hairdresser and barber).
During all this extract the example of bra is many times used to support the comments. This particular example shows a perfectly will of society to standardize the female body seeking to give it a more conventional and uniform appearance. While the woman’s breasts are never identical per nature. This example also try to show how the role of gender in society impact on technological inventions, and conversely, how social practices and how objects used have an impact on the definition of genders.
This is how the term “technologys women” appears with the development of tools and electrical appliances, and also the particular design of certain parts of the house such as the kitchen cupboards. Acording ti the author, these inventions start with the will of women to make the household chores the most practical and easiest. Indeed they culturally have spent the most time at home, to care about children. They have thus become real engineers in the art of storage and use of space in the daily task.

Through this text it would be interesting to ask what would be a posthuman life. Many movies paint a picture of the future where machines with artificial intelligence would have replaced humanity for example. It would have always a distinction of gender? What would have been the face of the world and the society, regardless of culture if it had been built to gender neutral? In any case it is interesting to see how human can’t do without those distinctions, even when he imagines a world where humanity is replaced by technological objects. It can be seen through cartoons such as “cars” or “planes” where human humanizes objects from technology and in this way strengthens the idea of ​​technological objects that differentiate our gender.

From those observations I decided to take the kitchen as my posthuman landscape. I’m interested by the fact that in the private sphere the women are always affiliated to the cooking and child care occupations, even if the society evolved.

And particularly about the paradox that this same occupation of cooking is mainly assigned to the men in the professional sphere as in restaurants. The cooking’s world is until today seen like a masculine environment because his hierarchy and his strict rules like in the army. Why the women wouldn’t be able to follow working rules and obey to a chef? It’s not about physical capabilities anymore. How would be a the kitchen in a posthuman landscape ? Firstly the “women’s space” became a social space with the fashion of the open kitchen, it’s not any more only the women area but a space of sharing even in the professional world, with some shows like cooking in live, etc. What is the next step ?

 

Elise Dorby

About :
Judith A. McGaw, ‘Why Feminist Technologies Matter’ in Nina E. Lerman, Ruth Oldenziel, Arwen P. Mohun, eds, Gender and Technology: A Reader, Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 2003.

One Response to “GENDER AND TECHNOLOGY”


  1. Dear Elise, You ask some very good and carefully articulated questions in this post. I’m struck in particular by your comment on storage solutions in relation to women’s expertise, based on their knowledge of household spaces. You might develop this concept of what could also be called ‘container technologies’ for the next blog post dedicated to containers and matter. THis issue of women and domestic storage solutions does raise a whole bunch of issues. First, there is the usual assumption that has been made historically, and is still made in many instances today (though perhaps less so), that women’s place is in the private sphere of the home, and that this is where they have some expertise: no doubt we would want to challenge this as a general claim, but we can’t avoid the fact that it is a stereotype that we get stuck on. What do we do? Well, we can celebrate what is to be done, and further develop the expertise associated with ‘home-making’, even making it a scientific art (see the Frankfurt Kitchen by Grete Schütte-Lihotsky, week 03); we can resist the stereotype and disrupt the domestic interior through expressions of (creative critical) resistance, so revealing the unconscious schema that keep placing women back in the home; we can aim for gender neutrality to open up the domestic sphere to all gender performances (I’m sure you could think of lots of examples of how this is done in films and media..think cook shows led by male chefs, as just one example). It seems there is no simple answer, but perhaps exactly a critical awareness that is brought to bear on each case? What do you think?
    Well done. H Frichot


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