chapter  3
Thrownness, vulnerability, care
A feminist ontology for the digital age
ByMargaret Schwartz
Pages 19

This essay juxtaposes two mediations of female embodiment in an effort to propose a feminist ontology for the digital age. The first is a consumer product called Icon Underwear, which is marketed exclusively via online platforms such as Instagram and Facebook and is designed to help women manage light incontinence. The second is a group of self-described hackers called the GynePunk collective that repurposes computer technologies as feminist-, queer- and trans-friendly gynecological tools and sex toys. Both Icon Underwear and the GynePunk collective materialize female embodiment via technologies of representation, surveillance and containment. Both frame the female body in its vulnerability, as incontinence and reproduction are sites of sexual difference and bodily and emotional fragility. Yet they have very different response to how to care for that vulnerability: one through a neoliberal ethos of self-reliance through consumerism, and the other through collective technological poaching and revisionist history. The author shows that the ways different media situate and frame this vulnerability produce different ontologies, and she argues that a truly feminist ontology for the digital age proceeds from an ethics of care.