Devaluation and Feminization

Thomas Foster provides a thorough analysis about how cyberpunk has changed the value of human body and gender distinction. From his point of view, Gibson’s differentiation of cyberspace and the real world solidify the mind and devalues the body, as Gibson replaces the word “body” over “meat” and “flesh” over “data.” I agree with him, but I think that both body and mind have worked equally important to the characters in Neuromancer. Although Foster is right on Gibson’s intention of body and mind splitting, the characters actually have both mind and body coexisted so that they can perform their task in their optimal capacity.

There are some moments when both body and mind have to act together in order for the characters to survive. For example, when Molly is working as a “meat puppet,” she has mindsets on getting more money for her renovation on her body and she needs her body for the job. In this case, both body and mind are irreplaceable. On the other hand, when Case is flipping in and out of simstim, it is his body and the real world that keep him away from Molly’s pain. His body also acts as a buffer between material world and cyberspace, since he wants get drugged for his body and then punch his mind into the matrix.

Foster further claims Case’s inability to access to Cyberspace actually weakens him, since he can no longer use his mind to do what he is best at. Foster indicates, “Case’s loss of access to cyberspace implicity feminizes him.” (Foster 216) However, there are many times that Molly has to protect Case and be the one who is risking her life. The example of Molly, as Foster describes her appearance as “no distinction to be made between surface and depth, between stylistic signifiers and the identity they construct,” (Foster 223) is actually contradicted to his claim of Case being feminized because Molly is apparently more capable of doing the action work than Case is. Therefore, I agree with Foster on his argument that mind and body have new definitions from Gibson, but I disagree with him on the devaluation of body and feminization on the inability to access to cyberspace.

2 comments
  1. I’m not sure, Jen, if I completely follow how Molly’s working as a meat puppet involves her mind. Work that through a bit more, as it seems counterintuitive.

  2. Jen, I don’t think I necessarily agree with your point that the characters have both mind and body coexisting in the novel. In Foster’s article, he makes a point to say that yes, Molly does decide on her own to become a ‘meat puppet’ to earn the money for her modifications. However, a ‘meat puppet’, as Foster clearly defines, is “a type of prostitute whose consciousness is suppressed by an implanted ‘cut-out-chip’ while the house installs ‘software for whatever a customer wants to pay for'” (Foster 216). In other words, Molly was completely detached for her mind, as her owners would literally install in her mind what the customers were paying for. Here is a clear example of how the mind and body are separate and not co-existing. In addition, when the simstim allows Case to inhabit Molly’s body, his consciousness is present, however, his body is not nor can he even control the body he is in. Therefore, I believe that that the mind and body do not co-exist but are entirely separate from one another.

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