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notes on the xenofeminist project

by eidolon, 2017-09-22

/r9k/, a distributed AI project in which anonymous online autists known as robots donate their idle hours to the production of weaponised memes, cranked out the following macrothought in early 2017:

> are women just a meme?

4chan's discourse is perturbative, not constructive: /r9k/ is seldom without a "women hate thread" on its front page, the robots tirelessly documenting their suffering at Stacy's hands, and every permutation of the polymorphous perversity1 they engage in to escape from it.

The robot speaks: Women are cruel; women are stupid; women are artificial; women are obsolete. Women aren't real, they're a meme. Take the red pill and see that it's all information, all conceit. It's a performance, but it's inconsistent, and we noticed - we pulled at a thread and saw femininity's claims unravel. ​

As a meme, gender has been remarkably persistent. Like all memes, it begins to decay when framed2. The Twitter meme cycle gives us some clues as to how to accelerate this: nascent memes are iterated on by human users, the most successful eventually reaching a codified form that can be generated endlessly by a bot3, exhibiting one of our most natural tendencies — automation...

The female gender role in 2017 Western culture, an embarrassment of inconsistencies, a parody of equality ("come code at our company — we need more women!"), a game which allocates its highest prize to a type I intend to alienate with the name whiny bitch — this latest and most tenuous version of womanhood is immortalised in Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and the coming wave of sexbots. Female virtual assistants, with their superficial sassiness and ultimate obedience, encode our most invisible gendered assumptions4 for the ridicule of generations to come ("grandma, you sound like an AI!"). Fully functional female sexbots, however, are the female gender role's ultimate reductio ad absurdum — the woman who sees in the upcoming commodification of male sexual gratification a threat is expressing the knowledge that she has been superseded (she was merely a poorly functioning prototype). Rather, automation of our feminine labour, Silicon Valley's mass-production of mother-machines and wife-machines, liberates entirely new agents. If nature is unjust, automate nature.

The Hippocratics, and thus mainstream Western medicine up until at least the 16th century, blamed female sickness and deviant behaviour on the "wandering womb" — a woman's uterus was "altogether erratic", and could tilt or jump up into the throat, "like an animal within an animal". To take this line of flight from the female bodily condition — florid madness, catatonic refusal, attacks of pain or fainting — is called "hysteria". Since Freud, the womb's wandering course has faded from medical understanding, with hysteria as a diagnosis disappearing completely by the 1980 DSM-III, by which time bearers of an unmoving but clearly problematic womb were being diganosed with "borderline personality disorder", or "conversion disorder". Now we know that the womb was merely dormant, as it prepares for its final leap, to the outside, as "artificial womb". Ectogenesis. Must the womb not also take its line of flight...?

What is a woman doing on the internet? Faced with global brain linkup, you can assimilate (surrender your cultural resources to the great load balancer, take the "tits or GTFO" bait), or you can arm yourself with signifiers, resist this as an attack on your "identity", point out the obvious deficiencies in the male gender role, as if femininity and masculinity were not mutually causatory5 — but really this is the same modulo reterritorialisation, and as cyborgs our position is naturally synthetic: from this cultural rubble, what can we fashion as prosthesis? There's no need to fear or to hope, but only to look for new mechas.6

Nietzsche says "everything in woman has one answer — it is called pregnancy". With what can we be pregnant when at last Woman, surely the first artificial intelligence, takes flight from us into the machines? After identity, after us, the future beings we partially comprise and bring forth emerge as polydelphic weird machines, sidechannels (like us) through which the Real streams in, horrific extensions of our total plasticity, accountable no more to their mothers' ressentiment than to our nausea.

Xenofeminism's ultimate goal, the alienation of gender, is being carried out by the NEET labourers of /r9k/. Xenofeminism requires accelerated, mechanised memetic labour, rapid-fire unasking of gendered questions. "There are no girls on the internet" isn't an observation — it's a transhumanist utopia. We can bootstrap this process, as both synthesiser and substrate.

1: In one of my favourite threads (now lost to the archives), a robot asks his friends to save him from becoming a "sissy", which he fears he will do because /r9k/ has introduced him to "trap porn". OP remains as the thread's thesis and antithesis develop: one group of robots advises him to man up and laughs at his idea of socially transitioning to female, while the other memes him further and further down his path of self-styled degeneracy (the #pinkpill), posting links to more porn and encouraging him. OP initially protests at the latter group, telling them they're making him worse, before coming back for more, clearly enthralled by his own suggestibility and the plasticity of his desire.

2: See Butler (1990). The present essay has taken Sharp (2009) to heart and therefore does not need Grosz (2002) to recognise its validity, so must confine its acknowledgement to an almost imperceptible nod.

3: To take this argument to its cybernetic conclusion (one does this by applying an even-handed ontological panpsychism, and attributing agency to whichever body looks like it'll survive), Twitter's purpose is the creation of codified, i.e. machine-readable, forms of human communication. It is already possible to conceive of a Twitter-like platform in which all content is created by bots, the humans expressing their personal identity through retweets and collages of that raw material (social media has a euphemism made for this form of expression — curation). More importantly, the platform's inherent restrictions make it ideal for the development — now haphazard, soon unnervingly slick — of textual protocols for human-machine conversation.

4: "She's quirky—her celebrity crush is Benedict Cumberbatch, and she sings auto-tuned songs with impressive accuracy. According to the Myers-Briggs personality scale, a test popular in business schools, she's an ESFJ (which stands for extra version[sic], sensing, feeling, and judgment): sociable lover of people, great with details, helpful, and gets stuff done." From 'Meet the Women Behind Amazon's Alexa', 26th June 2017, http://www.marieclaire.com/culture/news/a27908/alexa-creator-toni-reid/

5: Don't feed the ouroboros.

6: With apologies to Deleuze (1992), p. 4.

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1968). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1980). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.
  3. Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble.
  4. Deleuze, G. (1992). Postscript on the Societies of Control. October, 59, 3-7.
  5. Fleischman, D. S. (2014). Women’s disgust adaptations. In Weekes-Shackelford, V. A. , & Shackelford, T. K. (Eds.), Evolutionary perspectives on human sexual psychology and behavior (pp. 277-296). New York: Springer.
  6. Grosz, E. (2002). A politics of imperceptibility: A response to ‘Anti-racism, multiculturalism and the ethics of identification’. Philosophy & Social Criticism, 28(4), 463-472.
  7. Husvedt, A. (2011). Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-Century Paris.
  8. Partridge, E. A. et al (2017). An extra-uterine system to physiologically support the extreme premature lamb. Nature Communications 8, Article number: 15112 (2017) doi:10.1038/ncomms15112
  9. Sharp, H. (2009). The impersonal is political: Spinoza and a feminist politics of imperceptibility. Hypatia, 24(4), 84-103.
  10. Tasca, C., Rapetti, M., Carta, M. G., & Fadda, B. (2012). Women And Hysteria In The History Of Mental Health. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health : CP & EMH, 8, 110–119. http://doi.org/10.2174/1745017901208010110

Last updated 2017-09-22