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Heteronormative Technology: Jeanette Winterson’s Outlook for Progress (pp. 103-121)

Clàudia Martori 

Universitat de Barcelona


In the last two decades, Jeanette Winterson has shown a growing interest in the limits and consequences of the evolution of technology, which have a political and ethical impact. Winterson sees in bodily modifications through the use of technology the perpetuation a social model that preserves the objectification of women, the subordination of bodies to the sexual preferences of the heterosexual male, and the reinforcement of heteronormativity. Faced with this reality, Jeanette Winterson cannot help but wonder about the impact that heteronormative technology is going to have on women, especially on the younger generation, who is going to grow in a society with such sexist standards. In her sci-fi novels, Jeanette Winterson predicts a future that is already part of our present: the cosmetic surgery industry lives off physical changes fuelled by a social pressure driven by male desire, and the creation of sexbot prototypes further reinforces said aesthetic patterns. In her essays she strengthens these ideas on the basis of current technological development and predicts future developments based on what the big enterprises are currently working on and what their short-term goals are. Needless to say, none of these projects seem concerned about the gender inequality in their developments. Thus, the author takes a pessimistic perspective on technological evolution as she faces a society whose pillars promote inequality, making it rather hard to eradicate them.

Keywords: Jeanette Winterson; posthumanism; transhumanism; heteronormative technology; Artificial Intelligence


Claudia Martori is currently enrolled in the Construction and Representation of Cultural Identity doctoral program at Universitat de Barcelona and is working on a thesis that focuses on posthumanism and transhumanism in the work of Jeanette Winterson. She graduated from English Studies at the same university and holds a master’s degree in Comparative Studies of Literature, Art and Thought from Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Her research interests are contemporary literature, contemporary philosophy, artificial intelligence, and film.

e-mail address: martoriclaudia@gmail.com


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