In the science-fiction series “Armitage III”, Feminists have taken over Earth and encourage men to emigrate to a terraformed Mars, where the lack of women is compensated by gynoids (i.e. fembots)… including “Type III” androids that resemble non-Feminist female humans (which obviously ends up angering the Earth’s Feminist overlords).
Feminists angered at gynoid robots, and Social Justice Warriors angered about sexist men oppressing robots by daring to “gender them”, however, is not science-fiction, but rather the basis of the peer-reviewed academic paper “Gendering Humanoid Robots: Robo-Sexism in Japan” by Jennifer Robertson.
The abstract, obviously, is yet another “word salad”:
“In humans, gender is both a concept and performance embodied by females and males, a corporeal technology that is produced dialectically. The process of gendering robots makes especially clear that gender belongs both to the order of the material body and to the social and discursive or semiotic systems within which bodies are embedded. This article explores and interrogates the gendering of humanoid robots manufactured today in Japan for employment in the home and workplace. Gender attribution is a process of reality construction. Roboticists assign gender based on their common-sense assumptions about female and male sex and gender roles. Whereas the relationship between human bodies and genders is a contingent one, I argue that gendered robots render that relationship a necessary one by conflating bodies and genders. Humanoid robots are the vanguard of posthuman sexism, and are being developed within a reactionary rhetorical climate.”
As is usual, there is plenty of reiterating other academics points with a “unique” POV, as well as rambling; there is also bonus cultural insensitive since the Japanese specifically are being blamed for this sexist assault against defenseless robots.
Right out of the gate:
“Even the robots can’t escape the goddamn sexist pigs.”
And with that tone set, we soon learn that Tetswan Atom (AKA “Astro Boy”) is really a “trans-robo-boy” (or would that be a trans-android?):
“In actuality, as is well known, Tezuka’s prototype for Atomu was the ‘girl robot’ in his comic, Daitokai (Metropolis) – not to be confused with Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis, featuring the gynomorphous robot Maria that was screened in Japan in 1927. The girl robot in Tezuka’s Kasei Hakase (Doctor Mars) was also a precursor to Atomu.”
Has the author bothered to read either Tetswan Atom or Metropolis?
It should be obvious that as robots become more human like, they will take on human attributes, such as the fact that humans are a sexually dimorphic species with biological women and biological men.. However, the author doesn’t grok this intuitively obvious:
“In humans, gender is both a concept and a performance embodied by females and males – a corporeal technology produced dialectically. The process of gendering robots makes especially clear that gender belongs both to the order of the material body and the social and discursive or semiotic systems within which bodies are embedded”.
And not only are the Japanese sexist pigs, according to the author, but also a bunch of nerds!
“Much of what roboticists take for granted in their own gendered socialization and quotidian lives is reproduced and reified in the robots they design and in their publications. In short, gender for them constitutes common-sense knowledge, or a cognitive style through which they experience the social world as a factual object. The practice of attributing gender to robots not only is a manifestation of roboticists’ tacit, common-sense knowledge, or habitus, but also an application of this knowledge to create and sustain, or to leave self-evident, the facticity of their social world.5 How robot-makers gender their humanoids is a tangible manifestation of their tacit understanding of femininity in relation to masculinity, and vice versa.
“Gender attribution is a process of reality construction. In my investigation of the criteria by which roboticists assigned gender, it became clear that their naive and unreflexive assumptions about humans’ differences informed how they imagined both the bodies and the social performances of their creations. An online (Google Scholar) review of the small professional literature on gender and robots is revealing: the focus of the research is either on whether people interact differently with a feminine or masculine robot, or on whether females and males interact differently with robots per se. In the case of the former, the process of gender attribution is left self-evident and not interrogated, and in the case of the latter, sex is conflated with gender”.
Yet again, the academic Left declares that reality itself is a social construct!
But the Japanese aren’t really to blame, it’s just that their minds have been colonized or something…
“Gender is not simply a feature or characteristic of a given female body or a given male body. Examining the processes whereby Japanese roboticists assign gender to humanoids necessarily involves looking closely at the socio-historical particularities of the sex/gender system in Japan. In Japan past and present, for example, femininity and masculinity have been enacted or lived by both female and male bodies as epitomized by the 400-year-old all-male Kabuki theater and all-female Takarazuka Revue founded in 1913.”
That’s like saying that Shakespeare was a trans-rights activists because men and boys played the parts of women…
It’s almost as if gender isn’t dependent on biological reality and is like, contingent and stuff…
“The point to remember here is that the relationship between human bodies and genders is contingent […] Whereas human female and male bodies are distinguished by a great deal of variability, humanoid robot bodies are effectively used as platforms for reducing the relationship between bodies and genders from a contingent relationship to a fixed and necessary one.”
Ummm, human-like robots looking and acting like humans (i.e. sexually dimorphic) is what makes them human-like.
The author, at this point, shames the Japanese for preferring robots to importing 外人 vis-à-vis Europe, while dissuading “grrrl power”, but then turns around and praises them for treating robots as living things because of the Shinto belief in objects and things having a living spirit…
“Vital energies or forces called kami are present in all aspects of the world and universe; some kami are cosmic and others infuse trees, streams, rocks, insects, animals and humans, as well as human creations, such as dolls, cars and robots”.
So, the academic version of magical realism strikes again! From this, the author seems to want robots to choose which gender they identify with, by invoking “ba”:
“The concept and theory of ba – the term is often used interchangeably with basho – is closely associated with the work of Kitar ¯o Nishida (1870–1945), generally regarded as the founder of modern Japanese philosophy. A brief summary of Nishida’s idea of ba follows, despite the certain risk of my oversimplifying the complexity of his thought. According to Nishida, ba (basho) encompasses a non-dualistic concrete logic meant to overcomethe inadequacy of the subject object distinction. He proposes instead a dynamic tension of opposites that, contrary to Hegel, never resolves in a synthesis. This notion of ba is also concomitant with self-determination. Nishida declared that ‘a selfdetermining entity cannot be located in something other than itself’. Moreover, the place (ba) of dynamic tension and the self-determined self are always in an incomplete or emergent state. Nishida’s theory of ba and self-determination stand in stark contrast to the logic of so-called Western rationality (and perhaps monotheistic thinking more generally), which is based on a separated self (subject), where an object is observed as definitely separate by the subject who occupies the position of observer. The philosophy of ba proposes instead that a living system lives and maintains self-consistency by the contingent convergence of the separated self and the non-separated self
“So, why do Japanese roboticists, who are, for the most part, culturally and philosophically attuned to notions of ba, contingency, co-creation, and shared spaces of emergent relationships – issues that their European and North American counterparts and critics struggle […] – remain indifferent to the dialectical dynamics of gendered relationships among humans and to the utter lack of contingency in their gendered robotic creations?”
Maybe because the Japanese scientists are scientists and not critical gender studies majors whining about sexism against friggin’ robots?
Who else but an idjit academic would come up with a term like “robo-sexism”?
The article in question: