By Kim Toffoletti

Bringing a full of life and obtainable sort to a fancy topic, Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls explores the assumption of the "posthuman" and the ways that it truly is represented in pop culture. Toffoletti explores photographs of the posthuman physique from goth-rocker Marilyn Manson's digitally manipulated self-portraits to the recognized TDK "baby" advertisements, and from the paintings of artist Patricia Piccinini to the interestingly "plastic" type of the ever present Barbie doll, controversially rescued right here from her detrimental snapshot.

Drawing at the paintings of thinkers together with Baudrillard, Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti, Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls explores the character of the human - and its ambiguous gender - in an age of biotechnologies and electronic worlds.

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Additional resources for Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls: Feminism, Popular Culture and the Posthuman Body

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In turn, the fixed nature of signifying practice is replaced by a far more uncertain system. To paraphrase Baudrillard, a representational economy of simulation is ‘swamped by indeterminacy’ (Baudrillard 1993: 2). In this context, any attempt at making meaning is irrelevant, as we can’t distinguish between objects and signs with any confidence. It is the ‘forms whose finalities have disappeared’ (Baudrillard 1993: 2) that now constitute the value system of a postmodern technosociety and inform our visual experiences.

Referring to the sexual division of labour in the workforce, she notes that ‘the technical competence that men as a sex possess and women as a sex lack is an extension of the physical domination of women by men’ (Cockburn 1985: 7). For Cockburn, women’s lack of technical competence operates as a structural barrier to exclude women from technology, hence restricting their access to the benefits technology may bring. The argument that technology is gendered extends to digital technologies. Although many Western women use computers in their everyday lives, feminists have suggested that women’s marginalisation from the technosphere persists.

Although, as I will go on to discuss, many feminist writers construct the relationship between women and technology as a productive and subversive alliance, the posthuman makes no such assumptions. In a posthuman landscape, technology is neither friend nor foe, but emerges as a possibility or potentiality to refigure bodies and identities outside of self/Other relations. This is not to take away from the significance of the cyborg in feminist thinking about technology. In Haraway’s pursuit of a techno-inspired feminist politics, her cyborg functions as a circuit breaker to strategically disrupt an established line of thinking that locates women as irrevocably estranged from technology.

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