WOMEN & PERFORMANCE, A JOURNAL OF FEMINIST THEORY
and New York University's Department of Performance Studies
present issue 17:
"SEXUALITY AND CYBERSPACE: Performing the Digital Body"
press date: December 23, 1996
There has been a great deal of hype about how online life encourages us to
separate our minds from our bodily constraints. This issue of Women &
Performance reverses the question, and asks: "How much of your physical
self do you bring with you, online? How do your offline ethics affect your
online judgements? When you log on to the Net, where does your body go?"
Freud once called femininity the Dark Continent of human sexuality. Has
sexuality become the Dark Continent of cyberspace? "Sexuality &
Cyberspace" deploys creative uses of feminist, queer, postcolonial and
performance theories, in order to explore the world of the internet and
on-line computerized communications.
Guest Editors: Stacy Horn, President Echo Communications
and Theresa Senft, W&P Editorial Board.
The entire issue, complete with "Feminist Yellow Pages of Cyberspace" is
also downloadable, free of charge (educational purposes only, please) at
our Women & Performance web site:
price per issue: $7 U.S. ( plus shipping outside of U.S.)
subscription rate: 2 issues/year @ $14 U.S. (plus shipping outside of U.S.)
FOR INFORMATION/TO PLACE AN ORDER, PLEASE EMAIL:
or write to:
Women & Performance
Department of Performance Studies, New York University
721 Broadway, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10003
*Our thanks to the following sponsors: Echo Communications, The WELL,
FilmMaker Magazine, LPC Books, Duke University Press, NYU Bookstore,
Lusitania Press, and the New York State Council for the Arts New Media
TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR
"SEXUALITY AND CYBERSPACE: PERFORMING THE DIGITAL BODY"
EDITORS: THERESA SENFT and STACY HORN
INTRODUCTION: PERFORMING THE DIGITAL BODY--A GHOST STORY BY THERESA SENFT
What do cyborgs, prosthetic feminism and online culture all share in comon?
The author introduces the notion of l'ecriture digital, and contemplates
the next wave of contemporary sexual politics, both online, and off it.
CHANGING THE SUBJECT BY JODI O'BRIEN
Are there truly, as some advocates claim, "No closets in cyberspace", or
are new ones forming as we speak? O'Brien poses the question: Just how
elastic is the institution of gender, and how can concerned onliners change
the assumed Subject of cyberspace?
WHEN SNOW ISN'T WHITE BY BARBARA BROWNING
The cytborg is comprised of the biological infected with the mechanical,
East infected with the West, male infected with female. In all this
infection, do cyborgs worry about sexually transmitted diseases? Can they
get AIDS?The author of Samba: Resistance in Motion, writes about
prostheses, feminism, contagion and cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash.
MODEM BUTTERFLY, RECONSIDERED BY THERESA M. SENFT and KALEY DAVIS
Written as a series of letters between a transgendered woman, Kaley Davis,
and a biological woman, Theresa Senft, this story charts Davis's entry into
WIT, and women-only space on Echo, a Manhattan BBS. Acknowledging the
struggle of the women of Echo to define "woman" in digital space, the
authors ask: What does biology have to do with the search of marginalized
people for private forums, online? How is the physical body, with racial
and sexual markings, re-written into cyberspace, and why?
ON SPACE, SEX AND STALKERS BY PAMELA GILBERT
Pamela Gilbert, an academic at a midwestern university, woke one morning to
find nude modeling photos of herself being traded on Usenet. This is a
meditation on the politics of harassment, cyber-style.
HEARING THE NET: MIA LIPNER, INTERVIEWED BY CATHY YOUNG and THERESA M. SENFT
Young and Senft interview Mia Lipner, a blind communications theorist,
about the experience of "hearing the internet". Lipner's sound art piece,
Requiem Digitatem--a true story of trust, suicide, and death on the net,
narrated by both Lipner and her computerized text reader-- is available on
audio tape for our subscribers at an additional cost of $5 US
METRO ON ICE MEETS BALL AND CHEANG BY MOCHA JEAN HERRUP
Mocha Jean Herrup describes her private seduction/confusion/ordeal as she
helps lesbian multimedia artist (and frequent participator in the Whitney
Biennial) Shu Lea Cheang with her CyberBowling installation, done in
conjunction with The Walker Arts Center (Minnesota).
CHATT(ER)ING THROUGH THE FINGERTIPS BY YVETTE COLON, MSW
What is it like to run group therapy over a modem? Which techniques or
substitutions are made online for the visual cues that usually tell a
therapist her patient is lying, or upset? Yvette Colon, a licensed clinical
social worker, discusses her experiences running "group" online
THROES OF ADDICTION BY ALAN SONDHEIM
ere is an all-too familiar tale: the story of an online junkie, sitting in
a coffee shop, at once aware of his body and oblivious to everything but
his addiction. He sits, drinking coffee, plugged into his notebook, which
is by all accounts a prosthetic device without which he ceases to exist.
MY WOMB, THE MOSH PIT BY SHARON LEHNER The author, who aborted an 18 week
fetus, struggles to understand the reality portrayed by a sonogram image,
versus the cyberspace notion of "life on a screen".
PHONE SEX IS COOL: SUPERCONDUCTORS AS CHAT LINES BY MARCUS BOON
Boon details the routing mechanisms by which computers handle incoming
phone transmissions on a phone sex chat line. Unpacking the components of
the "silicon regime", the author writes an ethnography of
machine-sexuality, one which collapses the boundaries of contemporary
private and corporate space
TURING, MY LOVE BY MATTHEW EHRLICH
"Can you think what I feel? Can you feel what I think?" Alan Turing (the
inventor of Artificial Intelligence) asked his young lover Arnold in 1951.
Matthew Ehrlich's experimental love letter repeats Turing's questions, and
casts cyberdoubt over "real" sex .
NEW JACKED CITY? WIRING THE SOUTH BRONX BY EMILY POLER
A New York City health care planner explains the racism and sexism of
Senator Exon's Brave New Wired World scenarios, while suggesting that
proponents of poor urban internet access can stand to learn a great deal
>from the lessons of public health care workers
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE NET BY PATTI WHALEY
How might the Net be better be utilized to help human rights organizations
reach more constituents? The author focuses especially on the Beijing
International Women's Conference for many of her examples.
THE "SPACE" OF CYBERSPACE BY HARRY M. CLEAVER
Economist Harry Cleaver discusses the uses and abuses of Laura Miller's
"frontier" metaphor in her essay "Women and Children First: Gender and the
Settling of the Electronic Frontier." .Cleaver suggests that frontiers are
useful precisely because they engender resistance, and offers the Chiapas
Mailing list as an example of 'indigineous resistance' within both online
and offline culture.
WHEN THE PERSONAL IS DIGITAL BY HOLLY WILLIS and MIKKI HALPIN
What are the differences between lesbian cinema and queer interactive art?
Willis and Halpin, co-curatorsof the interactive media component of the New
York City Mix queer film festival, discuss ways to mark queer space in
A KINDER, GENTLER GLOSSARY FOR NET NEOPHYTES BY CATHY YOUNG
A FEMINIST YELLOW PAGES OF CYBERSPACE
ORIGINAL ARTWORK BY JACK TAYLOR, MARIANNE PETIT and TINA LAPORTA
BOOK DESIGN BY MARY O'SHAUGNESSY
WEB DESIGN BY JACK TAYLOR and MORGAN NOEL
DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING: C.D. THOMAS