Paper Proposal

Post/Human Embodiment: Gender and Gender Identity

Gender is a complex topic, with our understanding of gender and sexuality still changing and evolving in the present day.  I will be approaching the topic of post/human gender as a spectrum, where the clearly defined ‘male’ and ‘female’ of the present becomes much more complex when added to the idea of a virtual, robotic, or cyborg dominated future.  From the class texts, I will be using The Surrogates and Battlestar Galactica as my supporting texts, with a variety of articles and books on the topic of gender to ask the question: how is gender and gender identity defined, how does culture impact that definition, and how the issue of embodiment affects a post/human virtual expression of self.

While writing this paper, my argument will be mainly focusing on the representation of gender ideals around men and women.  In The Surrogates, the robotic selves could be any gender with any appearance, though many people like Detective Greer choose a surrogate that looks just like their actual self.  When confronted with Mr. Clegg, the male operator of the female Surrogate Trudy, Greer and Ford are dismissive of his choice.  This is interesting given that Cleggs’ employer or others around him didn’t seem to care.  This is one look at a post/human gender representation that is less than positive, while many of my supporting articles like Burnhams’ “Gender Identity in a Post-Human Future: Glasshouse and Schild’s Ladder” address the positive impacts a virtual gender can have in terms of the mind and personality being more important than the gender of the representational ‘avatar’ of the person.

Another key focal point of my paper will be the roles of women and the representation of the female gender in the post/human future.  This is where both Battlestar  Galactica and George’s “Fraking Machines: Desire, Gender, and the (Post)Human Condition in Battlestar Galactica” will help showcase the issues of the female gender in the post/human.  Here we have Six as the deadly Other, contrasted to Starbuck and other human females, yet both are little more than creatures designed to continue their species in many aspects.  This focus on the ability to have children occurs throughout Battlestar Galactica, and is a modern-day issue of feminism that is carried into a post/human future.  This ties in with other representations of women, either the socially inept nerd, or the sexy scientist, roles still common today that still are seen in many post/human works.

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