Identity in the Networked World

Donna Haraway

Donna Haraway, who concerns herself with feminist theory, sees the merger of women with the networked world as a positive thing. This merger changes the identities of both the machine and the flesh: the boundaries between the two are crossed.

Actually, Haraway believes many other borders are crossed in our world. Divisions such as those between human and machine, human and animal, physical and non-physical seem correct; but artificial dualisms such as these serve no truth. Haraway theorizes that the creation of the cyborg helps women to escape another dualism, that of sex, since a cyborg lives outside gender. Also consider Avatars or an online chatroom, where the users can represent themselves in any way they choose. Hypertext also allows for such an escape from artificial constructs. Code knows no gender, nor physical rules. Hypertext can take up infinitely many identities. Women can have liberation from gender based oppression once they enter into the networked world.

We can escape domination from the mechanical. As cyborgs, we are the machines. This causes a profound change in identity, and allows us to retain mastery of ourselves.