“The Android, as we’ve said, is only the first hours of Love, immobilized, the hour of the ideal made eternal prisoner.”
― Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, Tomorrow’s Eve
Misogyny is as old as the Greeks. Oppression of women by male-dominated androcratic societies is still prevalent in the global civilization of our present era. Men thrive on domination and hatred, fear and fascination of their opposing sex.
Reading an article by misogynist Milo Yiannopoulos (** see Addendum below) on the latest trend in Sexbots the blatant over-the-tope misogyny comes through loud and clear: “In the short term, sexbots will be good news for dudes. For one thing, with a robot, men know the orgasm will be fake, so it removes the performance anxiety of trying to make the grade. … When you introduce a low-cost alternative to women that comes without all the nagging, insecurity and expense, frankly men are going to leap in headfirst.”
Why? Why so much fear and hatred? As Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor define it the past four thousand years has been accomplished via the “total physical and ideological repression of the female body”.1 The next stage depends on the total physical and economic mechanization of the female body. The global assembly line turning out consumer junk and human consumers (and human-replacing robots) will be the great machine mother of the world— with the eggs, uteruses, and hormone systems of living women attached to it, one way or another, in servomechanistic functions. The current rage for female bodies trussed up in chains, discipline-frames, and even rubber-and-metal garter belts turns some people on specifically because it mechanizes female flesh. The media mechanizes female flesh by making it available directly to the brain via disembodied light technology. A good deal of contemporary pornography has to do, not with the eroticization of the flesh, but with the eroticization of the mechanization of the flesh— she wears all the metallic jewelry of torture. Increasing numbers of men in the world today are turned on solely, or primarily, by torture’s metalloid-mechanistic thrills. The triumph of the anal-sadistic-necrophilic machine equals the total mechanization of the female body: She is screwed by machine, and she reproduces mechanically. (ibid., p. 383)
In ancient Greece Hesiod in the Theogony would portray women as temptresses fashioned like robots of clay:
And Zeus who thunders on high was stung in spirit, and his dear heart was angered when he saw amongst men the far-seen ray of fire. Forthwith he made an evil thing for men as the price of fire; for the very famous Limping God formed of earth the likeness of a shy maiden as the son of Cronos willed.
He’d even portray Pandora as the bringer of all things evil to man: “…from her is the race of women and female kind: of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmeets in hateful poverty, but only in wealth”.
Even in King James Bible one notices that it is Eve, the mother of humankind who is blamed for all the ills into which we’ve fallen. Of course there was the additional beguilement of that old serpent the Devil behind the scenes: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked…”2
Throughout world literature one can find traces of this mythos of blame and misogyny against women. Pygmalion, the sculptor, who is not interested in women until he carves a beautiful one out of ivory. He makes an offering to Venus, and finds that his statue came alive when he kissed it and touched its breast. And of course she would marry him. So goes the motif of Man, the manipulator, breathing life and creation into his objects, and cause for female preoccupation with appearance.
One remembers Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Gilead, the society in the book, is a theocratic patriarch. The women are subjugated to the point where they are only around for ‘breeding.’ They are not allowed to read or write, have no opportunity for upward mobility (unlike the men in the society) and have absolutely no privacy or control over their own bodies or lives.
Baudelaire would see woman as gorgon and vampire, an intimidating and “impure woman” who is a “blind and deaf machine, fertile in cruelties,” “drinker of the blood of the world.” Beauty is “a sphinx” against whose stone breast every man bruises himself; she has a “heart of snow” and never weeps or laughs. She is a “monster enormous, frightful.” The sphinx Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire’s obsession, is like “the bleak sand and blue sky of deserts, insensible to human suffering.” She is nothing but “gold, steel, light and diamonds.” With “the cold majesty of the sterile woman,” she shines “like a useless star.” Duval has a “beautiful body polished like copper.” She is a glistening serpent with eyes like “two cold jewels in which gold mingles with iron.” She is a “beast implacable and cruel”; her cold cat gaze “cuts and splits like a dart.” She is an “inhuman Amazon,” a “great angel of the bronze brow,” a “charming poniard” leaping from its sheath. Marie Daubrun, another of the poet’s favorites, is a ship with jutting prow. Her breasts are shields “armed with rose points.” Her muscular arms, like those of infant Hercules, are “the solid rivals of glossy boa constrictors,” made to squeeze her lover and imprint him on her heart. The apocalyptic whore of “The Metamorphoses of the Vampire” brazenly boasts, “I replace, for him who sees me nude and without veils, the moon, the sun, the sky and the stars!” Sucking the marrow from her victim’s bones, she turns into a bag of pus and a rattling skeleton screeching in his bed. The vampire is ever-changing mother nature, whose embrace is rape and ecstasy, death and decay.3
So when I came upon this article about artificial robots replacing women it struck me as both strange and about par-for-the-course in an male-dominant culture of abstract and impersonal relations where women are still treated like things and objects of fashion and decadent beauty. The misogyny comes out clear and unbarred in Milo’s anti-feminist tirade: “For many men, sex is a nice bonus, but it’s not essential. When you introduce a low-cost alternative to women that comes without all the nagging, insecurity and expense, frankly men are going to leap in headfirst.” He even admits his anti-feminist bias and hatred portraying the feminist world as sociopathic:
Another reason men might be enthusiastic about female-free sex is obvious: the sociopathic, man-hating feminism we see so much of on television and in our newspapers today is turning men off dealing with women altogether. Constant whinging about “toxic masculinity,” “manspreading,” “mansplaining,” the bogus gender pay gap and the absurd campus rape culture myth are pushing the sexes apart, fostering mistrust and fear.
Milo’s hatred of feminism is totalistic misogyny tipping beyond the extreme. Blaming the victim as ideologist. His sense of alignment with a futurist agenda of female hatred and robotic effacement is a completed misogyny: “What’s clear is that the purchase women have over men, sexually and emotionally, is fading fast. That’s perhaps one reason for the “spitting tacks” fury of modern feminism: the louder they yell, the more men simply tune out and disappear into porn, robots and video games. Technology didn’t disempower women sexually — they did that to themselves with feminism — but it is accelerating the process. … In the short term, sexbots will be good news for dudes. For one thing, with a robot, men know the orgasm will be fake, so it removes the performance anxiety of trying to make the grade. (Men know the robot orgasm doesn’t exist — unlike the female orgasm, whose existence is still insisted upon by some conspiracy theorists and biological extremists.)”
Why do such men hate women so much? What brings such pure hatred out in such men? Power. Fright. Impotence. His ideological hatred is almost religious in intent. Right there he spells it out “performance anxiety” a term for his fear of women and actual fleshly touch and organic sensual relations. The man is afraid of women. What he fears is his own impotence. He is a diseased individual who can’t get it up. That’s it in a nutshell: “performance anxiety”, a euphemism to cover over his impotence. Such men hate themselves as much as they hate women. Self-loathing and merciless and even bitter satire against the opposite sex has been a leitmotif of decadent literature from the beginning. Women portrayed as things, as objects and lifeless or neutered creatures, as angels, gorgons and vampires; both untouchable and beyond the male. He hates women because he is afraid of being exposed for what he is. He attacks what he cannot have or be. A diseased animal whose faulty plumbing has engendered in him both a horror and fear of the other as self and woman. The mirror that would shield him against the stone embrace of the Gorgon is his own hatred and impotence, his passive aggression and use of language as a weapon.
Maybe he needs a little Viagra? Oh, but that would be too much to ask of such men that they admit their impotence, they’d much rather hide behind a curtain of hate and misogyny than admit that they, and they alone are the culprits in this impotent scenario. In a world that thrives on the inhuman, the transhuman, the posthuman as ideology and technological sublime where men and women both are becoming passé, and the flesh is nothing more than a “meat bag” to be sloughed off in the coming age of enhancement and merger into the machinic phylum is there any place left for actual human feelings, affects, passions?
We are entering an age where psychopathy and sociopathy are becoming the new idols of the masses, where androids without emotions or intentions rule the world of the inhuman future, and normative relations are based on affectless interactions devoid of anger or violence, but instead are bound tightly to impotent fear and self-degradation. Is old fashioned anger, sadness, laughter, tears, etc. to be left in the gutter worlds of the ancient regime of human kind as an anachronistic and decadent form of life that has finally been obsolesced. Is the Enlightenment program of a Promethean engineered humanity of pure Reason and abstract thought and relations governed by inbuilt engines of normativity and control to become the final solution in human design? Is the culture of death truly the ultimate form of social engineering: Zombiefication of humanity as sexbot species for an elite remnant of bankers, financiers, and their minions?
We know that ideologies of war and misogyny seem to go hand in hand. Who will forget Marinett’s futurist manifesto: “We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.” An article about misogyny on Twitter is enlightening.
What about human/robot marriage? asks, Amara D. Angelica: “While few people would understand or support robot-human intimacy today, as robots get more sophisticated and humanlike, more and more people will find love, happiness, and intimacy in the arms of a machine. As HUMANS viewers know, at least in fiction, “Robot sex and love is coming, and robot-human marriage will likely not be far behind.”
Maybe Gwynne Garfinkle sums it up best in her poem Misogyny:
Perhaps they broach the subject with Dad.
It’s a somewhat awkward
conversation: “You see, kids,
I swapped out your mom
for a hot automaton who won’t talk back.
(Technically, your mother’s dead.)
All the other guys in town
were doing it. You understand.”
It’s a guy thing… After the father telling the son such news the poetess asks: “But what do the fathers have to say to their daughters?”
The father will obviously sit there blinking mindlessly like a robot unable to say anything. That’s what robot daddy’s do… isn’t that after all what this is all about: men want to become robots, immortal gods in metal bodies just like their cartoon heroes. That’s the dark side of this technological sublime and its misogyny. Men want a world without women … and men, too. They want to be free of the flesh and blood trap of organic death and are willing to do whatever it takes to make that dream come true. Fantasies are harbingers of future aspirations, and tell us more about men’s ultimate ambitions. Underlying misogyny is a terror of sex, of the body, of the organic truth of change and the vital horror of planetary existence.
I remember years ago belonging to a gym owned by an extreme Christian. After my workout I’d sit up front where he was preaching his strange form of extreme religion. Being an atheist I’d question him here and there on the fine points of his doctrines, having been raised in an evangelical world myself. One day he leaned over and told me something heavy on his chest, after I’d spoken to him about women in the Catholic religion who had once held seats of Bishopric rank. He said this to me: “You do know that women don’t have souls, don’t you?” I looked at him and almost laughed, until I studied his eyes and saw both hate and fear in their dark intensity, a seriousness that was completely blinding, an annihilating light that showed forth the dark heart of our current world.
The Stepford Wives syndrome? A world where zombie-like, submissive wives of Stepford live out lives of the perfect 1950’s notion of the perfect housewife. A world where once independent-minded women thrived full of vibrant life, have become robotic drones turned into mindless, docile housewives overnight that server their impotent husbands like so many empty vessels. I was reminded of T.S. Eliot’s Hollow Men:
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us – if at all – not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men. …
……………….Life is very long
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow …
The spasm of desire rather than desire itself is all that remains to the hollow men. An enraged and tempestuous verbosity and unleashed hatred of women riven by impotence and perverse onanism, self-loathing and embittered defeat. The shadow that falls is man’s impotence against his own sick mind and body, just the opposite of Ahab’s raging against the night world of violent Nature, the hollow men – impotent and fearful, stuffed by their own passive inability to live life to its fullest, enter the torpid realms of a bitter and perfidious rejection and negation of self and other; where hell is the pure repetition of impotence and perversity. An eternal recurrence of the void without life or organic sensual sexuality, a deathless realm of infinite death-in-Life. A nightmare world that is no longer seen as a nightmare but as the truth of men-without-women devoid of love and the real erotic embrace of existence as organic. These are the metal men, the cartoon hollow men who embrace the technological sublime of a light without time. Victims of their own delusions they do not realize that their escape from the organic is only an embrace of a eternal hell without a soul, an existence in a universe of living death without end.
“This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.” (Eliot)
Such is the fate of a misogynist’s hellish paradise, a realm of pure repetition and impotence, a bitter and empty realm where the hollow men reign at last devoid of human desire. A void within the void where silence is the final terminus. Emotionless beings whose only life is rational madness, live lives of pure reason voided by the real movement of fantasias and indifference rather than an organic world of flesh and blood reality full of joy and pain. Machines without desire whose existence is nothing more than the processing of an endless infinity of dreams and delirium: a pure horror vacui.
(** Addendum: Several people inform me that Milo is a gay male which makes this more disturbing in an amoral sense that a man who purports to be part of a community that at one time defended women’s rights is so adamantly anti-feminist and misogynist, not to say impuissant and laced with such rancorous ill toward the opposing sex. At the time I did not know his sexual orientation, but now that I do it makes such a clear misogynist statement as his not only darker in intent but strangely disquieting. In the article he makes no mention of his sexual orientation, yet belabors his hatred of women and the feminist movement to such an extent that my own reaction was of one read in the literature of French and English Decadence, Symbolist, and Aesthete literature. His mental aberration aligns well with this already dated semblance of artificial literature.
Those such as Villiers de L’Isle-Adam in Tomorrow’s Eve in which Villers portrays a business man who asks Thomas Edison to contrive a mechanical woman for him; yet, with a twist, rather than more abstract and impersonal, the point here is to overcome the artificial cultural and fashionable android-like women of the day. Closer to the Stepford Wives of the happy housewife tending to the male needs without all the fuss, etc.:
Thomas Edison created Hadaly in an effort to overcome the flaws and artificiality of real women and create a perfect and natural woman who could bring a man true happiness. Edison then takes Ewald back to Hadaly and explains to him the exact mechanical details of her functioning: how she moves and talks and breathes and bathes, all the while explaining how natural and normal Hadaly’s robotic needs are, comparing them to similar human actions and functions.
After the details of the android’s functioning and construction are covered, Alicia arrives and is escorted in. Edison convinces her that she is being considered for an important theater role. Over the course of the next weeks, she poses for Edison and her exact physical likeness is duplicated and recordings of her voice are made. Eventually, Edison sends Alicia away and introduces Ewald to his android-Alicia without revealing that it is not the real thing. Ewald is very taken with her and she secretly reveals to him that she is in fact not simply an android but has been supernaturally endowed with the spirit of Sowana, Edison’s mystical assistant. Ewald does not reveal this fact to Edison but instead leaves with Hadaly-Alicia-Sowana. However, before he can reach home to his new life with his new lover, Ewald’s ship sinks and the android, who was traveling with the cargo, is destroyed.
So the twist here is the introduction of a supernatural element. Either way the notion of the breach of the barriers between natural and unnatural or artificial were already being registered in the mind of misogynists even during this age of the first mechanical Industrialism. In our time with such creatures as Milo the misogyny has taken off the gloves and become no longer a play thing of literary games, but an active ideological and political agenda founded in the eugenic research of advanced biological and robotics sciences of our day.
The aesthete and dandy is the opposite of the naturalist. As Paglia will report it “all art, as a cult of the autonomous object, is a flight from liquidity. The Decadent swerve from sexual experience is identical with the Decadent creation of a world of glittering art objects. Both are responses to the horror of the female liquid realm. The dandy makes woman into an objet de culte with a hard, metallic surface. To emphasize woman’s surface is to deny her internal space, her murky womb-world.” (SP, p. 430)
As we can see there is a long tradition of misogyny from Late Romanticism (Decadence, Symbolists, Aesthetes, Imagists) onward, so that men like Milo are only reiterating a dark heritage constructed out of a hatred of the natural of which women become for such men the ultimate embodiment.)
- Sjoo, Monica; Mor, Barbara (2013-12-10). The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (p. 383). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
- Carroll, Robert; Stephen Prickett (2008-04-17). The Bible: Authorized King James Version (Oxford World’s Classics) (Kindle Locations 1604-1607). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
- Paglia, Camille (1990-09-10). Sexual Personae (p. 422). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
- Melville, Herman (2004-03-30). Moby-Dick [with Biographical Introduction] (p. 374). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.