Journal article

Going commando: prosthetics and the politics of gender

27 Apr 2015


In light of cultural discourses that position femininity at odds with technology, I was inspired by the work of Donna Haraway to examine how women amputees experience and negotiate feminine embodiment with prosthetic limbs. In her germinal Manifesto for Cyborgs, Haraway theorised the cyborg as a feminist symbol of a utopian “post-gendered world,” asserting that techno-hybridity has the potential to destabilise embodied gendered subjectivity—prompting a rethinking of sex, bodies, gender and humanity. In this paper, following a critical discussion of Haraway’s work, I argue that the cyborg continues to be a provocative concept in feminist sociologies of the body, enabling us to explore the complex new subjectivities that are made possible through feminine techno-embodiment. Trough an empirical exploration of women amputees’ experiences of living with prosthetic limbs, I found that women can embody and incorporate prosthetic technologies into their feminine selves in multiple, complex, gendered ways. My fndings indicate that cyborgian hybridity may have the potential to destabilise some aspects of gendered embodiment and performance for women with prosthetic limbs, which can be experienced as both limiting and liberating.

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