本文是文学论文，What’s more, the cyborg women also resort to the production of knowledge to strengthen the newly-reversed power relations since the production of knowledge can provide the most efficient results in power politics according to Foucault and Haraway. They naturalize the sciences that are conducive to women, teach knowledges that are salutary to their mutation, and rewrite history that is consistent with matriarchy. Thus, the idea of men powerful than women and the history of the former patriarchy merely become a ridiculous fantasy for the progenies five thousand years later. The power politics in The Power has changed during the long time. Before the mutation, it is similar to the sexual politics in the real life where men dominate over women in various fields in many countries. But after the mutation, science and technology begin to play more and more important roles in power politics. They become the new sources of power to produce powerful cyborg bodies, create subversive religions, and refashion knowledges and production of knowledges. However, after the Cataclysm when women replace the positions of men, science and technology are used as disciplinary power again to consolidate the matriarchal structure, which tosses women and men into the dualistic conundrum. Therefore, the thesis realizes that power politics has a history of its own. It develops and transforms as many new functional factors come into play. During and after the mutation, the power politics in the novel resembles Donna Haraway’s cyborg politics where the boundaries between humans and machines, and physical and non-physical are broken down.
Chapter 1 Introduction
Naomi Alderman is an English woman writer who was born in 1974. She was brought up in an Orthodox Jewish community and studied in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford University and attained an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Her writing experience is rich despite her young age. She won the Orange Award for New Writers in 2006 and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2007 after the publication of her first novel Disobedience. And later, she published three more novels The Lessons in 2010, The Liars’ Gospel in 2012 and The Power in 2016. She also writes short stories for magazines and anthologies. Her fictional works have shown common interests in politics and religion because of her upbringing and education. What’s more, in the age of science and technology, her talent for writing also pushes her into the realm of video game creation and makes her a successful writer of online games for BBC and Penguin with her popular works such as Perplex City and Zombies, Run!. She has also shared a close relation with science fiction and contributed to the reputable Doctor Who TV series with the novel Borrowed Time (2011). Furthermore, she enjoys a close relationship with the famous woman writer Margaret Atwood under the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, who has inspired her to produce the award-winning novel The Power. Haraway sees Foucault’s biopolitics as a premonition for cyborg politics in that they both provide new ways of reinterpreting power comparing to the old static view. She published her Cyborg Manifesto in 1985. Since then, cyborgs have survived on earth. Haraway’s cyborg is a hopeful identity referring to the combination of machine and organism. And it is discovered in SF works at first. However, the cyborg goes beyond its literal meanings and becomes a metaphor for hybridity, connection, and transversality. And for Haraway, it provides people with a new politics for a better world. Haraway’s cyborg theory focuses on the study of science and technology which is also the significant trigger to create a world of cyborgs in The Power. There are two significant characteristics of Haraway’s power politics in her cyborg world. First, it emphasizes the importance of science and technology. It can be seen as a combination of politics study and science and technology study (STS). In it, science and technology become the new sources of power to produce cyborg bodies, religions, and even knowledges. In cyborg politics, the boundary between nature and culture is also disrupted since nature is being naturalized by science as nature. Second, it stresses relatedness in the web of power. Her second manifesto dedicated to companion species promotes a universal relatedness among humans, animals, and nature. For Haraway, all life stories are connected in one way or another. People need to discover their connections with the rest of the world in order to maintain sustainable development in the universe.
Chapter 2 Power Politics: From Foucault to Haraway
2.1 Foucault’s Power
Theories Michel Foucault has produced a great number of works on power. His political engagement and the theoretical concepts on power are of great significance in the study of power politics, which are constantly being criticized and consulted by feminism. His theories have offered new perspectives and methods for feminists to resist and deconstruct Phallocentrism. For many readers, Foucault’s power theories are complicated and distractive as they involve many other concepts like subject, knowledge, and discourse. The truth is that these related concepts are not far-fetched digression but are essential in understanding his power theories. This part attempts to introduce Foucault’s power theories with a logic relation to his seemingly discursive concepts of subject, knowledge, and discourse. Foucault’s power has three most striking natures. The first one is that power only exists within relations. Whenever Foucault refers to power, he actually sees “power in terms of relations built consistently into the flows and practices of everyday life rather than some thing imposed from the top down” (Mc Houl & Grace, 2002: 7). This significant trait of power induces many other important characteristics of it. First, it implies that power exists after the formation of relations. Power is only “the result rather than the productive cause” of the relations (Ibid.: 88). Comparing to the traditional concept of power, Foucault regards power as the consequence of relations, not vice versa. Second, the Foucauldian concept of power is very different from the traditional concept: it means that power is not a thing to be owned or passed on by the upper class used to oppress the lower class. But rather, according to Foucault, it is “the multiplicity of force relations extant within the social body” that in constant moving within the “the struggles, confrontations, contradictions, inequalities, transformations and integrations of these force relations” (Ibid.: 84). Therefore, power actually is power relations and the multiple power relations are always changing and transforming so that power is unstable in essence. Last but not least, power is everywhere:
2.2 Sexual Politics in Transition
The first wave of feminism started from the end of the 18th century aiming to achieve political equality and reached its climax after the WWI with many countries such as New Zealand and Australia granting women suffrage. The second wave of feminism began from 1960s with an aim to change women’s subordinated status in different aspects of life. This was also the period when Foucauldian theories became influential in feminist power politics. Foucault makes people realize that power is pivotal in the production of many inequalities and seemingly natural phenomena such as sexuality. The feminist theorists adopted Foucauldian thoughts and began to question the patriarchal power system. Therefore, after Foucault, many prominent figures in feminism arose and aimed to address how power functioned between the two sexes. Many of them become the main strength in the third wave of the feminism, for example: Julia Kristeva, Gayatri Spivak and Judith Butler. Before Foucault’s development of power theories, feminists like Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Frieden had already paid attention to the inequalities between men and women. In 1949, Simone de Beauvoir published her most influential book The Second Sex, in which she argued that woman is the inessential Other who is deprived of the rights of self-realization. A “true woman” is stereotyped as feminine, passive, inactive and subordinated to men in her “fundamental alienation to her body” (Beauvoir, 1949: 246). Her most significant assertion that “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” has inspired the feminists to expose the lie behind the myth of genders in varied ways. Later Betty Frieden further developed her ideas in The Feminine Mystique (1963) and criticized the patriarchal system of delusions and false values in making women sacrifice themselves for men and family. Both Beauvoir and Frieden have not only realized the power of man over women is unnatural and unjust, but also believed that gender is a construction to serve for patriarchy. Thus, gender as construction becomes the theoretical basis for feminism.
Chapter 3 Becoming Cyborgs......................... 21
3.1 Wonder Women in The Power 21 3.2 Technologized Men in The Power........................... 25
3.3 Cyborgs in the Making ............ 28
Chapter 4 Becoming Goddesses..................... 33
4.1 Religion as an Accomplice in The Power................ 33
4.2 Goddesses without Gods in The Power................... 36
4.3 The Cyborgian Salvation at Work............................ 40
Chapter 5 Becoming a Matriarchy................ 44
5.1 The Female Supremacy in The Power..................... 44
5.2 Matriarchal Knowledges in The Power................... 47
5.3 The Cyborgian Ethics in Need 50
Chapter 6 Conclusion ..... 54
Chapter 5 Becoming a Matriarchy
5.1 The Female Supremacy in The Power
It is to be noted that The Power is a feminist SF written in the form of metafiction. In it, the world has stayed matriarchal for thousands of years and people think matriarchy is the thing it always has been since the start of human civilization. And they also believe that women have always been who they are with the skein. “The Power” is a historical novel written by a male writer called Neil Adam Armon who lives in the matriarchal world. He finished “The Power” and sent it to the reputational and authoritative female writer Naomi for advice. At the beginning and the end of the feminist SF are the corresponding letters between Neil and Naomi on the historical novel “The Power”. Therefore, in The Power, the world is a dualistic matriarchy with the roles of women and men completely reversed. This part will offer a comprehensive analysis of the matriarchal power relations from three main aspects: gender essentialism, gendered ontological subjectivity, and the institutionalized gender roles. In The Power, the matriarchy is based directly on gender essentialism with a great similarity to the current patriarchy. The biological difference between women and men renders men into victims since women have evolved with the skein for electrical strikes. With the skein, women are able to succeed men in physical strength. The skein can produce a precisely controlled amount of electricity to any part of the body to create numbness, paralysis and even irreversible damage or death. So, women now are perceived as violent, strong, subversive, determined, intellectual and reasonable, while men are perceived as delicate, weak, submissive, undetermined, ignorant and emotional. Masculinity is no longer a commendatory term but a derogatory one. And the gendered identity in The Power is again insinuated into the personalities of women and men and is naturalized by science and technology. It is through the mirrored version of patriarchy under the name of matriarchy that makes people see clearly the arbitrariness of the division of gender based on biological difference and allows people to experience this seemingly doubtful process of the cultural construction of gender. However, does this repetitive mapping of sex with gender justify the biological determinism permeated in our world? Isn’t the gender identity a natural result of sex differences? The answers are definitely no. Generally speaking, the physical advantage of men over women makes the patriarchal power relations a possibility. But it has never guaranteed it as the only consequence. There are far too many other factors and uncertainties working in the process. What’s more, as humans evolve and societies change, the physical differences between men and women have altered as well. Therefore, it does not make sense that the significations of sex and gender has remained the same as before. That’s why we need to fully explore the other factors functional in the construction of the dualistic patriarchy such as religion, knowledge, and science and technology. We need to understand their collaborative relations with one another in order to seek hopeful alternatives for a better world.
5.2 Matriarchal Knowledges in The Power
In The Power, the male writer Neil has dauntlessly questioned the history of the past. The novel written by him includes a set of historical facts and illustrations to support the history it tells, for example: the statue of the holy mother with hands open showing a tattooed eye in each in the position of displaying power; the rudimentary weapons for women in the shape of a glove intertwined by wires to magnify the electrical shock; mass grave of male skeletons with their hands removed and their skulls marked by deadly electrical strikes, etc. These historical facts are being doubted and rejected by the woman writer Naomi. For Neil, the historical narratives before the cataclysm must have been modified because “all the books we have from before the Cataclysm have been recopied hundreds of times” and this work has been done by the “nuns in convent” for more than two thousand years (Alderman, 2016: 336). Neil’s doubts are completely reasonable. The only way for women to construct a matriarchy with few future troubles is to leave out the history that tells men’s glorious domination over women. It is the simplest way to secure the new matriarchal order. The easiest way to solve problems of power is through dualistic thinking because any alternative beyond dualism will be much more complicated than it seems to be. So, the nuns rewrote the knowledges of history with the belief that they would be damned for spreading heresy if they had recopied the works that imply the patriarchal history. Therefore, official knowledges are constructed and enhanced by the dominant power to instruct the official ideology. They lie on the top of the hierarchy of knowledge and help to control people’s deeds and thoughts, while the subjugated knowledges “are located low down the hierarchy” to hide from persecution and correction (Foucault, 1980: 81). Knowledges thus become the disciplinary power to maintain the matriarchal power politics in The Power.
Chapter 6 Conclusion
In cyborg politics, science and technology are important sources of power to produce revolutionary bodies and knowledges and to construct new religions and institutions that are against the gender-biased patriarchy. Thus, cyborg politics is a hopeful future of power politics in real life. However, the cyborg women have constructed a matriarchal world which is exactly a reversed patriarchy. Thus, the novel shows that a world ruled by women is no better than that dominated by men. The dualistic problem also appears in the cyborg politics in The Power, which shows that technoscience is not always the solution to set people free. And the cyborg world in The Power lacks a new ethics commensurate with the cyborg politics, which renders it into the dualistic conundrum. Apart from the powerful science and technology, there are many other factors functional in power politics, such as ethics. Haraway’s cyborgian ethics then provides us a relational way of thinking. It upholds kinships and negotiations and denies the patriarchal dualism at its core.