Feminism and the Political Body

29 – “When Man is on the Menu” – Donna Haraway

Donna Haraway argues a dialectic topic – what are the boundaries between humans and animals, morality and technology? She uses two examples that are OncoMouse and virtual rabbit to explore why man is on the menu as we treat with animals. Biotechnology is developing with high speed. However, the boundaries humans and animals are breaking. The lab animals are products of the laboratory but they deeply affect our life now. Sometime, we are so confused about what is the reality and fiction. Maybe we as human will exchange the role in the world with the animals, because we did not figure out the genesis of life. As a joke said, we are the animals of God’s lab and the earth is the place of God’s lab. We just did not know whether it is a joke or not. The technology improves our life and leads us into other virtual world at same time. Bio-engineered body can be produced in the lab, and the human also can be cloned as the order on the menu that depends on the clients’ requirement. We can breed the progeniture in cuvette and bereave the generational right of female and male, but who can keep us away from the destroyers who come from our lab.

1. The digital virtual technologies are used widely in architecture. How can we distinguish the true effect or fake result?
2. Will the architect become the products of architectural theories?



28 –  “How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics” – N. Katherine Hayles

Katherine Hayles explains Norbert Wiener’s study in cybernetics that put mathematics and science together to bridge the information and mechanism. Both of them relate to the body. “Fusing cybernetic device and biological organism, the cyborg violates the human /machine distinction; replacing cognition with neural feedback, it challenges the human-animal difference; explaining the behavior of thermostats and people through theories of feedback, hierarchical structure, and control, it erases the animate /inanimate distinction.” (Pg.84). Body as an informational system could be reconfigured by cybernetics. She uses one example – a blind man’s cane to explicate cybernetics that describes the information flows, and the cane is portion of the blind man because the cane extends the informational flow to wide space. Furthermore, Body is fused with the mechanical device. However, there is an anxious or threatening trend that is electronic computers are thinking and making decision for the human. The postman does not mean past-man. We need to make sure that machines are always controlled by human beings and humans “must not let machines become their masters” (Pg. 85). The physical boundaries of human’s body should be secure, and the flow of information through the organism should be controlled by human’s decisions. Personal identity and autonomous should not be challenged. All of those points would secure us became a “healthy” Posthuman.

1. What is the base line of the cyborg? Do not attack human or other?
2. What are the boundaries of keeping the body away from the machine?



27 – “Architecture from Without: Body, Logic, and Sex” – Diana I. Agrest

Agrest argues a long-standing reality that “The logic in the system of architecture represses sex in two different ways: sex is thought of in both positive and negative terms; where woman is assigned the negative term, and sex is neutralized or erased through the medium of the artist” (Pg.174). Why and how did the frozen stones in the architectural building express the characters of gender? Why would the woman be assigned the negative term? The followed two scenes of architecture will help us to understand the complex ideological apparatus.

First scene: The Book of the Renaissance. Women had been suppressed, repressed, and replaced in historical and architectural ideology since the Renaissance. At this time, the architects built an architectural system founded on the analogical relation between architecture and man’s body. Further, this system became the foundation of architectural theories. That system considers the man’s body naturally and perfectly matched in the design of buildings and female body is suppressed or excluded. Woman, her reproductive creative functions are replaced by man. The woman’s womb was replaced by man’s navel.

Second scene: The Text of the City. “Wife in the kitchen. Whore in the street” (Pg.191). The role of woman had been restricted in the “interior” space. And “she is at home” (Pg.191). The public place is a no-man’s-land ready to be appropriated. Woman is dispossessed of her body.

The Western system of architectural theories had been built upon and remained influential in our architectural buildings. The sexual characters are branded on those buildings with or without intention. Whatever they are female or male characters and they are both unique with their own qualities and values in architectural form.

1. Does it mean perfect if we use nonsexual characteristic in architecture?
2. Is an improvement or a retaliation of Feminism in architecture?


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