GIST Class Notes from Wednesday, February 9, 2011 by Hillary Godwin: Self-Shaping Technologies
We began by acknowledging that Monday would end the first section of our class, “The Science and Technology of Gender: Making and Re-making Ourselves.” Most of the class was centered on asking provocative questions, rather than necessarily finding definitive answers.
We then began discussing categories:
- Many students in class agreed that we as human beings are biologically inclined to make and use categories as a way to make sense of the world.
After we talked about gender categories in class, I found myself thinking about this interesting speculation on the nature of computer programs used to store information about marriages.
Whether or not we are favorable to categories, they are so fixed and basic to our culture and every day lives that we treat them as immutable facts. And maybe the need for categories is something basic to humans as a way to make sense of the world. But the categories themselves and their implications and applications are of our own making. If this is the case, then maybe the question shouldn’t be, are categories good? But why these categories? We will never live in a gender neutral world, just like we have never and will never live in a world (biologically speaking) of binary genders. Maybe if these categories held less sway and were as fluid as the people they collect, we would come to rely less on gender as an indicator of traits and potential.
“The truth about stories is that that's all we are ... The Nigerian storyteller Ben Okri says that .... 'if we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives.’ ....”
—Thomas King, The Truth About Stories