chapter  2
18 Pages

Hybrid embodiment: doing respectable bodies on YouTube


The late 1980s and early 1990s witnessed a surge in utopian and dystopian rhetoric around ‘cyberspace’, in research as well as in popular culture. Both utopian and dystopian approaches seemed to build on the notion of disembodiment: the idea that technological advancements and the creation of virtual worlds would render the physical body irrelevant and obsolete (for an overview of debates and perspectives see, e.g., Lupton, 1995). Feminist scholars saw a liberatory potential in that the disappearance of the physical body, or at least the invisibility of physical traits in ‘cyberspace’, could offer an escape from restraining norms and categories such as gender, race and disability. According to this celebratory rhetoric, technology would make it possible for people to construct their identities in new ways, regardless of their positions in the physical world (for various approaches to such claims see, e.g., Balsamo, 1996; Haraway, 1991; Stone, 1991).