Julianne Pierce on Mon, 5 Oct 1998 12:52:44 +0200 (MET DST)

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Julianne Pierce
Sydney, March 1998

(written for the 'Cyberfeminist Reader' compiled by Cornelia Sollfrank)

In 1991, in a cosy Australian city called Adelaide, four bored girls
decided to have some fun with art and French feminist theory. Creating
themselves as a mini corporation, VNS Matrix, they made their first
text/artwork 'A cyberfeminist manifesto for the 21st Century'; with homage
to Donna Haraway they began to play around with the idea of cyberfeminism.
As with many corporate slogans, cyberfeminism caught on, and like a wave
of grrrl glory it spread its tentacles to many far reaching places.

Beginning as if by spontaneous combustion, from a few hot nodes in Europe,
America and Australia, cyberfeminism became a viral meme infecting theory,
art and the academy.  It arose as a response to popular culture - video
games, the internet and especially Gibson's notion of cyberpunk. If the
new breed of techno-cowboys could jack-in at will, well so could the
grrrls. And with a vengeance, girls got digital and used the language of
the new techno-culture to create their own conceptual vanguard.

Cyberfeminism was about ideas, irony, appropriation and hands-on skilling
up in the data terrain. It combined a utopic vision of corrupting
patriarchy with an unbounded enthusiasm for the new tools of technology.
It embraced gender and identity politics, allowing fluid and non-gendered
identities to flourish through the digital medium. The post corporeal
female would be an online frontier woman, creating our own virtual worlds
and colonising the amorphous world of cyberspace.

This first version of cyberfeminism was a flame, a moment, a spam which
became hip. It was an impulse which became a commodity.

Cyberfeminism is an incredibly important 'movement', it somehow embraces a
growing groundswell of activism and access for women using all forms of
digital media. It is certainly a 'feminism', as it advocates that women
participate in creating and defining the present and future of techno
culture. But somehow the 'feminism' is the problem, some of the old guard
see it as a vacuous fashion statement (a sort of cyberspice), and the
young guard don't need feminism anymore. So in this time of labels and
brand names, perhaps we should abandon 'cyberfeminism'. There is no longer
one cyberfeminism, there are now many cyberfeminisms - as it grows and
mutates and is adapted by the growing number of digital tribes.

The updated version of cyberfeminism is more about networking, webgrrrls,
geek girls, FACES, OBN, online publishing, career prospects, list servers
and international conferences. It's about Hybrid Workspace and the 100
anti-thesis, it's about getting grants and funding to create opportunities
to meet and make work. It's about training and creating opportunities,
making money, doing business and doing deals. It's embracing diversity and
difference, being opinionated, being loud and at times staying quiet. But
the key to all of this is information, in the information society, to get
ahead you must control the commodity. Information is political, it's a
weapon, and the more knowledge we have, the more powerful we are.

The early heady days of cyberfeminism created a space where the
imagination could fire, gender could be re-written and the promise of the
post human released us from the drudgery of post modern identity crisis.
These spaces are important for dreaming, for creating a space for
otherness - but while we confront our subjectivities, Bill Gates is making
$500 a second. Big Daddy is flourishing and the suits control the data
stream. The new cyberfeminism is about confronting the top-down with the
bottom-up, creating a culture where the info heavy cyber babe can create
her own space within a complex and clever info society. It's about
creating foundations to build upon, so that in the next millennium we can
carve own our paths, create our own corporations...in the words of VNS
Matrix - "unbounded, unleashed, unforgiving...we are the future cunt".

julianne pierce po box 1085 potts point
nsw 2011 sydney, australia
tel + fax (02) 9130 3061 international (+612)

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