Some hypertext writers have already begun to explore hypertext's politically enabling potential. Hi-Pitched Voices, a collaborative hypertext writing project for women, is one place where hypertext writing conjoins with an explicitly political, feminist agenda. Carolyn Guyer, author of the hypertext novel Quibbling. and one of the founders of Hi-Pitched Voices, writes that the collaboration's " interest in disjuncture and convoluted detail is for us an aesthetic composing rich fields of complexity" [quoted in Joyce, 89]. The project certainly has a politics; but what about its aesthetics? Certainly the art of hypertext expression relates to an ideology, at least in Guyer's view: " We know that being denied personal authority inclines us to prefer […] decentered contexts, and we have learned, especially from our mothers, that the woven practice of women's intuitive attention and reasoned care is a fuller, more balanced process than simple rational linearity" [quoted in Joyce, 89].
Though promising, this perspective requires unpacking. In this view, hypertext is an alternative to " simple rational linearity,' which itself opposes ostensibly female (or perhaps, feminine) characteristics of intuition, attentiveness, and care, all of which are transmitted from one woman to another via the universal experience of having a (certain kind of) mother. The opportunities for non-linear expression which hypertext affords coalesce, in this view, to form a writing that is " female" in a very particular way: hypertext writing embraces an ethic of care that is essentially intuitive, complicated, detailed, but also " fuller" and " balanced." It is important to note that not all hypertexts written by women exemplify this aesthetic. In fact, some notable hypertexts by women, such as Kathryn Cramer's In Small & Large Pieces and Jane Yellowlees Douglas's I Have Said Nothing, feature violence, rupture, and breakage as organizing imagery.
Any claim that hypertext is a privileged preserve of female or even feminist writing is suspicious for other reasons as well. Who is to say how and why hypertext might in some essential way fulfill a dream of an equal or even superior voice and representation for a group whose voices, interests, and hopes are themselves diverse and difficult to define? Those who make this claim commit themselves to a patronizing ideology of dominance masquerading as support and concern; for it is the privilege of the powerful to appropriate domains of discourse on behalf of others. Moreover, discovering alternatives to " rational linearity" is not the same as resisting and transforming the structures whose power and authority give rise to the need for alternatives in the first place. The Brown University Women Writers Project, for example, uses hypertext to increase the visibility of previously unknown or little-recognized writing by women, in order to provide a fuller representation of women writers before the Victorian period [Sutherland]. Certainly hypertext should function as a protective enclave for women's writing, but its protective capacity should neither ghettoize the writing nor politically paralyze the writers; we must explicitly recognize that any claims to the subversive potential of hypertext must intend to subvert not particular groups or sexes, but any groups or individuals exercising power and authority over others.
Appropriating a domain of discourse for oneself, however, is another matter entirely. As I've argued elsewhere, the cyberpunk science fiction that blossomed in the 1980s expressed the cynicism, decentering, and fragmentation of a social and cultural landscape at the same time that it provided -- via the image of the cyborg -- an alternative to it [Cyborg]. Although there is in cyberpunk an element of what Paul Virilio terms " technological donjuanism," the disappearance of the material body along a technical vector  (such as virtual reality) that allows the dissolution of physiological identities in favor of disembodied consciousness, the cyborg's resistance to categorization along a variety of binary axes (human or not human, male or female, alive or dead, sane or insane, self or other) suggests that it is possible to think and write about sex and gender without (re)producing bodies as objects. Rather, the cyborg paradigm results in the production of no discernible objects at all, or at least none we could recognize according to currently dominant (if contested) categories and modes of thought.
- Hypertext with Consequences: Recovering a Politics of Hypertext [Introduction]
- Why Is Literary Theory Important for Hypertext?
- Hypertext Has Always Been Political and about Bodies
- Cyborgs among Us: Bodies and Hypertext
- A Wish List for a Political Praxis of Hypertext