Mary Anne Doane
"Technophilia: Technology, Representation, and The Feminine"
In Cybersexualities; edited by Jenny Wolmark; Edinburgh University Press, 1999 (pp. 25-34)
In this essay, Mary Anne Doane maps the convergence between technology and the female body in cinema, analyzing the tension between production/reproduction and the relationship between technophilia and maternity. Taking Eve from Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's 1886 novel L'Eve Future as a historical forerunner to the female cyborg, Doane outlines the historical recurrence of maternal and technological threats. Focusing her filmic analysis on Metropolis and Blade Runner, she theorizes the female form as a screen for the projection of technological anxiety. In her analysis of Metropolis she largely reaffrims Andreas Huyssen’s reading: the representation of the female cyborg Maria is symptomatic of both technological fear and womb-envy: "the conjuction of technology and the feminine is the object of fascination and desire but also of anxiety." Moreover, the masculine desire to appropriate maternity into an 'artificial feminity' reflects the masculine fears of non-differentiation, the collapse of subject/object, the confusion of identities, and ultimately, the collapse of the entire patriarchal signifying system. This understanding recalls Kristeva’s concept of the abject, "- i.e. that which is the focus of a combined horror and fascination, hence subject to a range of taboos designed to control the culturally marginal." (p. 26) In her conclusion, Doane argues that the new technologies are only traumatic for their disruption of a symbolic system which 'constructs the maternal and the paternal as stable positions.'