“Programming is Law: Can I be a Feminist if I Don’t Want to be a Programmer?” presented by Wagner


Session Title:

  • Emancipation and Pain (Short Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • Programming is Law: Can I be a Feminist if I Don’t Want to be a Programmer?




  • Our individual existence, our bodies, our minds, are embedded within and artificially augmented by technology; we interact with similarly extended others. These interdependencies pose urgent ethical and cognitive questions. When looking into these complex relations and ethical urgencies, claiming that the individual, society and technology are separated from one another, may feel counterintuitive. Separation however, does not imply causal isolation, or complete independence but instead that one system does not directly control the other, however eligible they may be to influence one another. Social and individual existence is tied to digital technologies. Informed by patriarchal power structures, their design and investigation both extends and creates new forms of oppression and alienation. As such, they become feminist agendas.

    Rather than refraining from participation in the technological sphere, radicalised exclusivity can be used as an operable device to increase inclusivity – a conclusion derived from the text “Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation” by the group Laboria Cuboniks. In the recognition of one’s own alienation, one can find identity and liberation; and by actively increasing alienation there isn’t simply reconciliation with the exclusionary status quo but the freedom to construct a different world. With this focus, this paper examines the importance of acknowledging the social and political implications of programming, and the limitations of this acknowledgment within theory and the discursive spaces it happens within.

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