Technology: Reshaping the Gender Identity

Warren Ellis utilizes strong female lead roles in his graphic novel, and it is evident that technology is essential to the power of these characters.  The scene in which Aleph is being attacked at the Global Frequency’s central headquarters and her response to the attack highlight an important difference in this society of technology from societies of the past. Aleph is alerted by Zero of an impending attack upon central and though she begins by evacuating the base she eventually turns around to fight back for her headquarters.  This display of heroics would not have been possible in a society without these technologies. Technology is changing what it means to be a woman, since no longer do they suffer from their physical and biological limitations.  Though Aleph is a female, she is able to fight off a terrorist squad of four, a feat that most likely would not have been able to be done a few centuries ago.  Aleph says something essential in this chapter to the idea that gender roles are rapidly changing when she responds to Zero after being asked why she is returning to central, “What I should have been doing all along. Thinking. I’ve got all the information here in my hand. I just need to process it, to connect things up.”  Aleph recognizes quite literally, that she does not need to run. She had everything she needed to beat the enemy, the technologies she was equipped with and her cognitive abilities.  This scene displays the power of technology, its ability to even the playing field regardless of gender.

Up until the last century, women had been treated as a lesser class than men.  One possible reason for this phenomenon is that traditionally arguments and power struggles had been settled in physical battles, in which males are inherently at an advantage with distinct biological advantages over females.  However, Aleph is able to devise a strategy and eliminate the threat to the Global Frequency command center despite being outnumbered four to one.  Her ability to wield technology as a weapon awarded her with a victory against a team of terrorists, a victory only achieved through with technology.  Ellis’ choice to use Aleph and Miranda Zero as the most reoccurring and heroic characters in the novel, both of which are females nonetheless, seems to reveal one powerful aspect of technology.  The ability to even the playing field, to provide women with the means to match men.  No longer are women restricted by their biological shortcomings, the woman is suddenly capable of anything a man can do.  As Haraway suggests, the cyborg stands for the shifting physical boundaries which, in its interface with us and the world around us, often defy what we perceive to be “natural”.  The composition of human and technology, the cyborg, then redefines what it means to be male or female.

Gender identity is often described as a person’s private sense of being a man or a woman, the conscious selection of membership to a category of people, either male or female.  But what constitutes being ‘manly’ or ‘feminine’?  The ideas of masculinity and femininity are social constructs, as we as a community deem what is acceptable and expected from males and females both.  Our society, in the face of rapid advancements in technology, is experiencing a complete metamorphosis. Our capabilities as people are changing at a scale never matched in the history before, and as we evolve so too does our definition of masculinity and femininity.  Technology is reforming entirely what it means to be a male or a female.

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One Response to Technology: Reshaping the Gender Identity

  1. Interesting post, but I would urge you to be a bit more careful with using generalization so readily, as you are making some dubious statements about the historical role of women. Being more specific and concrete–i.e., working w/ the text itself more carefully–would help you avoid such (ultimately incorrect) over-generalization. I’m also surprised you didn’t draw on Haraway much more extensively and rigorously.

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