Is Sexism Intrinsic to Technology? An Introspection

3 Responses

  1. Jeremy Cushman says:

    I have far too much to say in reply alexlayne, far too much. So I’m just going to say thanks for the post. You’re concerns, I think, a spot on.

    Well okay, I’ll also say that ‘pure tech’ in a weird way is already carrying traces of sexism (and racism). I mean what the hell is ‘pure tech’? The phrase gives my the heebie-geebies and pissed me off at the same time. Is it ‘pure’ because it somehow is untainted by the social? As if anything that we might call tech is pure because it just showed up on the scene, separated from the stuff of life? That’s a tired and disgusting position to hold. ‘Pure?’ Seriously? So I guess my problem is not that sexism and racism might be “intrinsic to or inevitable in tech;” my problem is believing (even wanting to believe) tech has a magic key to something called pure. Pure, if we think of it as “unmarked,” has gotta mean something, right? And it’s not hard to guess what ‘pure,’ ‘unmarked,’ ‘abstract,’ etc. probably means, is it? So no, tech might not be intrinsically sexist or racist. But you bet your ass ‘pure tech’ is.

  2. Don says:

    Hmmm…is the tech, any tech so neatly separable from the culture it transmits? On one hand, it seems to me that technology is created by and used in the transmission of certain values in a recursive process–this has me thinking about Regis Debray’s Transmitting Culture. On the other hand, the term passions skews the whole essentialist/existentialist argument with Lacan, Freud, and psychoanalysis. Hmmm…

  3. dr. b. says:

    Jeremy is trying to scoop my post and podcast bit already. I am spot on with you Alex about technology being intrinsicly sexist and I would also say racist as well. This is something that goes waaaaaayyyy back. It goes way back to medical (and communication) technologies. Think back to hysteria treatments (pre and post vibrators), the Tuskegee Experiment, birth control testing/eugenics, and Bell Phone Co. Much of this is inextricably sexist and racist and dealing with fertility and genocide all on US soil (or originating here in the case of birth control, eugenics, and Margaret Sanger). And that definitely opens up a whole new can of worms.