The Perfect and Controlled

November 30, 2014

Bild seminarium 6

Reflections after reading “Feminism, Technology and the Information Society – Learning from the Past, Imagining the Future” by Sally Wyatt in Information, Communication & Society Vol. 11, No. 1, 2008.

The text by Wyatt goes through the different phases in feminism and their approaches to technology. Some regarded technology as a liberating force for women, some thought of it as a tool for the patriarchy to oppress women and some regarded technology as inherently patriarchal in itself.

Wyatt writes about the state of today as “Women are no longer (or only very rarely) seen as passive victims of patriarchal domination and control via technologies which are themselves inherently masculine in design and character. Femininity, masculinity and technology are no longer considered to be fixed, unitary categories but to contain multiple possibilities and to be constructed in relation to one another.” But, as she points out, social, economical and cultural factors constrain, structure and shape technological choices. Which correspond to what I wrote in my last text Trapped in a Box “Culture, or presumptions of what the world is, affects which tools we invent and how we use them.”

What ideas about gender and society can one read from the design of Hornsberg strand?

With it’s totally programmed surface, Hornsberg strand wants to communicate that “you can do whatever you like” and that there are a lot of possibilities, even though in my eyes it does the opposite (more about that in my texts Trapped in a Box and Hiding Behind a Mask). The message that “you can do whatever you like” says something about the idea of how one as a person is supposed to act in society and that a person is seen as not being affected by the society or the societies presumption about that person. The person acts regardless of the forces in society. The same ideas apply for the woman. It regards the woman as an individual who is not oppressed by society and she is seen as in control of her future.

But at the same time society has presumptions about gender and about the family unit, which is reflected in the apartments built and the presumptions of their inhabitants and the supply of facilities such as restaurants and shops. Of course these apartments and facilities are meant to attract a certain type of buyer, who is supposed to have a certain amount of money. But that is not all of it.

The perfect and controlled design suggests that the inhabitants are “perfect” and “controlled” themselves, they have to fit in to the picture. No persons with problems or unusual habits or ideas are supposed to be part of this area, this world. Nether someone who does not look right, but what is the “right” look?

The design draws one’s imagination to a luxury resort which suggests that the inhabitants have the money and freedom to travel to a luxury resort, or to “go where ever they like”. A luxury resort makes one think of well trained bodies in swimsuits. With that comes society’s presumptions of how a female or male body should look like and the ideal of picturing the woman as helpless and passive, the object, and the male as active and determined, the subject. The inhabitants are supposed to have this ideal body to fit in to the picture of the “perfect” and “controlled”. This ideas of society and gender are manifested in the design of Hornsbergs strand.

Lovisa Wallgren


2 Responses to “The Perfect and Controlled”

  1. eltejp Says:

    I think that you could also take another, parallel, way with this. Looking at society it is interesting to notice that we seem to take the “the more abundant we make peoples options the freer they will be” route towards equality. Assuming that if people want equality it will manifest itself. It, you could say, moves the prerogative of action from society as a group to the individual itself. Thus any outcome is the outcome people want. This of course pretends to not notice the fact that people tend to prefer information confirming what they already think they know. Even though conflicting information might be what moves them forward. The removal of obstacles in life is, in other words, not inherently positive as it is often portrayed.

  2. elsajannborg Says:

    The way you have structured your text with a beginning which explains and discusses the text by Sally Wyatt and a conclusion with your site works very well. This goes for all your posts.


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