The Fetishization of Masculinity in Science Fiction: The Cyborg and the Console Cowboy

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Fernbach, Amanda. "The Fetishization of Masculinity in Science Fiction: The Cyborg and the Console Cowboy." SFS #81, 27.2 (July 2000): 234-255. As of June 2019, full text except for Abstract (p. 255): linked by note here.[1]

Discusses the fetishization of masculinity in hypermasculine cyborgs and console cowboys. In particular, points to Neuromancer and The Terminator to show that technofetishes do not necessarily require the traditional phallic symbolism, but succeed with "castrated masculinity"; indeed, cyberpunk's fetishes, both masculine and feminine, challenge traditional signifiers. (Maly, 27/06/02)

Note Note 8:

Although my analysis of cyberpunk focuses specifically on Neuromancer, it also applies to other cyberpunk texts that use similar technoerotic imagery. In Walter Jon Williams’s novel Hardwired (1986), for instance, the cyberpunk cowboys are feminized by technology that jacks directly into the sockets in their heads, enabling them to experience the disembodiment of cyberspace. In the comic book Cyberpunk, as Claudia Springer points out, Topo leaves his meat behind to enter the Playing Field, a dangerous feminine space similar to Gibson’s matrix (Springer 64). 

The Springer reference is Electronic Eros: Bodies and Desire in the Postindustrial Age (Austin: U of Texas P, 1996).

From the Abstract:[2]

[... Draws] on pop-culture images of hypermasculine [and finds that] cyborgs and cyberpunk’s "jacked-in" console cowboys [...] suggest a critique of the rigid gender dichotomy of orthodox theories of fetishism in which the fetishist is always masculine and the fetishized subject is always feminine. [...D]espite their differences, these two models of cybermasculinity suggest a technofetishization of the white, heterosexual male body [...] where the privilege of that identity is purportedly under siege [...]. In these texts, technoparts function as fetishes by disavowing male lack and the feminization of the male subject [...]. [... Such fantasies can be seen to somewhat] recuperate patriarchal authority in a posthuman context. On the other hand, these fantasized fetishized masculinities are transgressive of gender norms. Both fantasies confirm that masculinity is not natural, but is performed and constructed through technological props, and both types of masculinity — one hypermasculine and the other feminized by technological prosthetics — are in excess of traditional notions of masculinity. [...]

RDE, completing: ed., 21-22June19