The Cyborg Race: Ethnic Discrimination in Marissa Meyer’s Cinder (Hailey L. and Brianna B.)

In Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, human beings and cybernetic organisms coexist in society. Cyborgs are “a hybrid of machine and organism” that co-inhabit Earth with humans (Haraway 5). However, cyborgs are viewed as subhuman and are treated as objects. In this novel, the world is plagued with a lethal disease called letumosis, leading to the creation of a daily draft to recruit cyborgs at random “to act as guinea pigs for antidote testing” (Meyer 29). The draft is evidence that cyborgs are treated as an alienated race whose rights to their own bodies are denied. Prior to Cinder, all of the testing has been unsuccessful, leading to the death of every cyborg unlucky enough to be drafted. Cinder is only seen as a valuable member of society once her immunity to the disease is discovered. Thus, this marginalization of cyborgs and how they are denied their own bodily integrity supports our argument that Cinder is not treated as a human being, causing her gender to become irrelevant.I

In New Beijing, cyborgs are oppressed. This discrimination shows that “the fusion of machine and human [is] a metaphor for how systematic racialized structures restrict or oppress the Othered individual” (Hale 4). Cyborgs are universally subjugated by humankind, sometimes even being barred from entering certain establishments. People fear cyborgs and act as if the “wires are contagious,” despite that becoming a cybernetic organism was not their own conscious choice (Meyer 5). Cinder’s marginalization is evidenced through the treatment she receives at the market. She is not permitted to enter Chang Sacha’s bakery and the street vendors around her often complain about the smell of her booth; however, “Cinder knew they really just didn’t like being next to her” (4). This treatment is typical of how all cyborgs are treated in society and demonstrates some instances in which they are treated as less than human.

Further, cyborgs are not treated like valuable members of society. Young cyborgs, like Cinder, are denied “freedom within society” and are seen “as a piece of property that can be bought and sold” (Hale 8). This becomes evident with the implementation of the cyborg draft. The names of cyborgs are drawn so they can be injected with the plague and then given an unsuccessful antidote. While this should make cyborgs highly valued members of society because they could be the reason a cure is found, it instead emphasizes their status as subhuman. As Fateen, the doctor’s assistant, states, “it’s better than testing on people” (Meyer 70). The draft reminds citizens that “cyborgs [are] not like everyone else” (29). Cyborgs are chosen for this duty because they do not have the same rights that the ‘true’ humans in their society do. According to Haraway, “a cyborg body is not innocent; it was not born in a garden” (65), implying that cybernetic organisms are unnatural, despite the fact that they were born human and were made into cyborgs due to unforeseen circumstances. Although most cyborgs are over seventy percent human, they are treated as though they are entirely a machine that can be controlled by the government.

Cybernetic organisms are refused their bodily integrity because they are viewed as subhuman. They are not given the same rights to their own bodies that ‘true’ humans are given. Young cyborgs are expected to obey their legal guardians, regardless of the consequences, which shows how the free will of cyborgs is not viewed as a basic right. Many cyborgs, including Cinder, are “forced to sacrifice” themselves for a society that oppresses and discriminates them (Hale 7). In Cinder’s case, she is mistreated by her stepmother, Adri. Adri uses her legal power to force Cinder to become an antidote test subject against her will. When the med-droids come to take Cinder away, she tells Adri that she cannot force her to go to the labs. Adri replies, “I can. So long as you are under my guardianship” (Meyer 67). The reality that a guardian can trade the life of their cyborg ward in exchange for monetary compensation reinforces the idea that cyborgs can be treated as objects. This is further evidenced by the way Adri treats her, despite Cinder being the family’s sole source of income. Since Adri was obliged to take care of Cinder, Adri constantly reminds her that “[l]egally, Cinder belonged to Adri as much as the household android and so too did her money” (24). Although Cinder was once fully human, the thirty-six percent of her body that is machine takes away her free will.

The absence of a cyborg’s bodily autonomy is due to being subhuman. This makes the gender of the cyborg irrelevant. Since cyborgs are not treated as humans, their gender is inapplicable to their daily life. Cinder’s stepmother barely treats Cinder as a human being, let alone in regards to her biological sex. Adri views Cinder as “this thing” (65) that she has been forced to take care of against her will, rather than as her stepdaughter. Cinder, herself, does not pay attention to feminine qualities. She focuses her time and energy on her duties as a mechanic and on supporting her family. Even when she is given the opportunity, however small, to go the ball, she occupies herself with work and does not focus on matters like finding an appropriate dress. This is also because she understands that Adri will not give her the money she has earned to buy a dress because Cinder’s stepmother views her as an emotionless machine, undeserving of feminine luxuries. Therefore, the way that Adri behaves toward Cinder is reflective of the general public’s treatment of cyborgs, which causes them to be viewed by most as genderless subhumans.

In Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, cybernetic organisms are treated as secondary citizens who are marginalized and looked upon as subhuman. This results in the lack of bodily integrity given to cyborgs and the increasing irrelevance of gendered characteristics and behaviours. The treatment of cyborgs in Cinder is representative of how even in our present-day society, racial minorities can be mistreated, oppressed, and discriminated against.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. We assert that the discrimination of cyborgs is an issue of race rather than class. Do you agree or disagree? Explain.
  1. Sierra Hale says that “technology [is used] as a social metaphor for race to encourage discussions of contemporary society’s racial politics” (15). Do you agree? If so, how does the treatment of cyborgs correspond with the treatment of “othered” races in our society?

 

Work Cited

Hale, Sierra. “Post-Racial Futures and Colorblind Ideology: The Cyborg as Racialized   Metaphor in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chornicles.” Raced Bodies, Erased Lives: Race in Young Adult Dystopian and Speculative Fiction. Eds. Miranda A. Green-Barteet and Meghan Gilbert-Hickey. Anthology Under Review.

Haraway, Donna. Manifestly Harroway. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology,     and Socialist: Feminism In the Late Twentieth Century.” University of Minnesota Press. 2016.

Meyer, Marissa. Cinder. Ch. 1-11. Rampion Books. 2012

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12 thoughts on “The Cyborg Race: Ethnic Discrimination in Marissa Meyer’s Cinder (Hailey L. and Brianna B.)

  1. I think your assertion that Cinder’s (and other cyborgs’) gender becomes “irrelevant” is an interesting one. While there is always intersectionality at play (for example, a white woman is privileged in her whiteness, but disadvantaged in her gender) I think the idea that because cyborgs are not seen as human at all, their gender does not matter begs the question, “what are relations among cyborgs like?” I wonder this on two fronts: relations between cyborgs as determined by humans and relations among cyborgs themselves.

    First of all, we do not see very many instances in the text where cyborgs of different genders are directly compared. The closest moment would be when Cinder is first drafted as a test subject and Dr. Erland rejects a male cyborg candidate. However, it is not this candidate’s gender but his status as a father and his lower technological percentage which accounts for Dr. Erland’s decision to release him from the program. Is there a gender inequality when humans are comparing cyborgs of different genders or do they view cyborgs as an equal collective that is so close to animals, gender is unimportant? Cyborgs are still permitted to live among human society so I hesitate to say that they are treated as poorly as animals (though an argument can be made for that point), but certainly they are treated as racialized others. I just feel it is unclear to what extent gender is irrelevant to humans or how often it could become relevant.

    Second, I wonder if cyborgs see gender inequality among themselves. Are there perhaps communities consisting entirely of cyborgs? Do they exist in a sort of post-gender world where the repressed and discriminated cyborg body is seen as entirely equal to its fellows?

    I think your point is an interesting one and I wish the novel could give us more of a background to understand some of its implications.

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  2. Hailey and Brianna–

    First of all, I would like to touch on your point regarding gender and its irrelevancy in “Cinder”. I think this is a very interesting point to bring up and one that, admittedly, I had not thought of myself until I read your post. I would argue that this is because I was so focused on the classification of Cinder as a “cyborg” that her classification of a certain gender was not at the forefront of my mind. Admittedly, I would argue that it’s not at the forefront of Marissa Meyer’s mind either, as you both indicated in your post and as Chloe indicated in her comment. The focus of this novel (in what I’ve read so far and what I’ve read of the posts) is on the classification of cyborgs in New Beijing society and their role as “sub-human” or “second-class citizens”. This focus diverts our attention from the gender of characters and towards different aspects that make up their identity. Much like Chloe said in her response and like you said in your post, there is not a lot of information given to us as readers regarding gender in New Beijing, the interplays between different genders, and the ways in which different genders or gender qualities are treated in society. What makes an interesting point of comparison is looking at the original “Cinderella” fairytale by Charles Perrault, later by the Brothers Grimm. While Meyer’s “Cinder” can be read as a sampling of “Cinderella” or as a revisionist fairy tale, making comparisons between this novel and the folk tale it has drawn from provides interesting contexts for how Meyer’s has adapted it for her post-human, dystopian society. For example, in “Cinderella”, there is clearly emphasis on Cinderella’s gender and her ability to perform gender roles, seen in her role as housekeeper for her step-family and the emphasis that is placed on her apperance. Thus, the tale from which Meyer’s adapted her novel “Cinder” is far less progressive. My question is, does that make Meyer’s post-human novel that is based on a gendered, problematic fairly tale make it more progressive?

    I would like to also touch on your question regarding whether the discrimination of cyborgs is an issue of race over class. I would agree with you that yes, I would argue it is an issue of racial discrimination over class discrimination, based on the fact that New Beijing so clearly others cyborgs and marginalizes them in terms of their classification as cyborgs.

    Personally however, I read the discrimination of cyborgs as more of an issue of speciesism. As someone who is very interested in the field of animal studies and the relationship between humans and non-human animals, I find this novel to be a very interesting study in how we treat non-human animals in our society. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “speciesism” as “discrimination against or exploitation of certain animal species by human beings, based on an assumption of mankind’s superiority” (OED). With this definition, I can’t help but see the cyborgs in New Beijing as the non-human animals in society that humans so clearly dominate over. There are multiple parallels that can be drawn between this society’s treatment of cyborgs and our treatment of non-human animals that will strengthen my argument that this novel can be read as a insight on speciesism and I’ll take quotes and examples from your post in order to provide these examples.

    Their classification as “sub-human” beings that “are treated like objects”, the fact that the “rights to their own bodies are denied”, being seen as a “piece of property that can be bought and sold”. This treatment of cyborgs is a direct parallel to our society’s view and consideration of non-human animals, who as it stands in the majority of the world, as not legally considered “sentient beings” and are still, under most country’s laws, are considered the property of whichever human owns them, thus taking away their rights to their own bodies. Where Cinder “legally belongs to Adri as much as the household android”, this parallel between cyborgs in New Beijing and non-human animals in our society is undeniable in my opinion.

    Furthermore, cyborgs are victim to the Cyborg Draft, wherein the “names of cyborgs are drawn so they can be injected with the plague and then given an unsuccessful antidote” to Letumosis. New Beijing society uses cyborgs classification as non-human to perform medical tests and research on because the “humans” of New Beijing consider them to be expendable. As you stated, “cyborgs are chosen for this duty because they do not have the same rights that the humans in their society do”, and as the doctor’s assistant states “it’s better than testing on people”. This use of cyborgs as medical research subjects directly mirrors our use of non-human animals in cosmetic and medical research, where because non-human animals are considered expendable and sub-human, they are used for human benefit and advancement. I would like to put in a side-comment here where the issue of in vivo testing (animal testing) in the medical field is a controversial subject and is an entirely different debate. However, the parallels between our society’s treatment of animals and New Beijing’s treatment of cyborgs cannot be ignored. As you stated, cyborgs literally “act as guinea pigs for antidote testing”, making the direct comparison to our own use of guinea pigs in our own medical and cosmetic testing.

    I think the discrimination and marginalization of cyborgs in Marissa Meyer’s “Cinder” can be read as a representation of multiple things in our society. As you argued, it can represent racial discrimination. It can also represent ethnic discrimination, classism, or ableism. And all of these comparisons are important parallels to make and can force us to examine the discourses of discrimination in our own society. I don’t believe any one of these readings is any less valid than the other, as each reading represents something present in our society that is problematic. However, I read this novel through the lens of speciesism and I cannot help but draw direct parallels between cyborgs in New Beijing and non-human animals in our society and I think that Marissa Meyer’s novel serves as a fascinating platform for the discussion of human versus non-human relationships.

    Lastly, I have one comment to make. In your title, you state “The Cyborg Race: Ethnic Discrimination”, alluding to the idea that race and ethnicity are one in the same. However, I would argue that race and ethnicity are two different classifications and although the novel can be read as either racial discrimination or ethnic discrimination, I don’t think we can conflate them.

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  3. I’m not sure I agree that discrimination of cyborgs is an issue of race. In the novel the cyborg body is socially constructed as an abject body. I know this can be applied to racialised bodies, but I think the specific way it’s constructed as abject ties in more with disabled people. There are literal parallels for a start: Cinder has prosthetic limbs, for instance. But also, cyborgs as a class don’t appear to be a cohesive group based on ancestry and racial signifiers that come to an extent from actual biological conditions, as racial groups are. Rather, cyborgs become cyborgs at some point in their life, and are then ostracised. I would argue that this applies to many (obviously not all) disabled people.

    You also noted that ‘Cinder is only seen as a valuable member of society once her immunity to the disease is discovered’. I think this also ties into societal discrimination against disabled people, who are sometimes seen as ‘useless’ because they may be unable to contribute to a societal system of capitalism as efficiently as able bodied people. In such a society, where people’s worth is tied into production and consumption, many disabled people are therefore dismissed as people. Similarly, many disabled people are treated like objects and are not allowed to exercise their wills, being seen as incompetent and thus having decisions made for them.

    I agree that in the novel cyborgs are oppressed, othered through the body, and not seen fully as people– which of course can be applied to society’s treatment of people of colour. But many different groups in society are oppressed and dehumanised, so I think oppression doesn’t always operate through racialisation. In the case of Cinder, I think cyborgs are discriminated against and othered on the basis of cyborg-ism(?) being constructed as a disability.

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  4. I agree with the other comments on this post that address your point about gender becoming irrelevant. This is something I find interesting and had not thought about before, but I think there are counter arguments for example I think Cinder’s gender is relevant because from the beginning we are told about how she defies gender roles by being a mechanic. Furthermore, what you mentioned about the dress is important, the importance Meyer places on acquiring the dress and its importance is significant because here Cinder is adhering to gender expectations, arguably used to make her more ‘human’ but also to adhere to expectations of girlhood.

    In answer to your discussion question I agree that discrimination against cyborgs is an issue of race because the cyborgs are racialized. This is seen as you said in the way that they are taken off to be part of trials for an antidote and the way they are seen as a “piece of property that can be bought or sold” I think here Meyer is deliberately comparing them to how Black people were treated as ‘chattel’ in the transatlantic slave trade and therefore is deliberately racializing the cyborgs.

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    1. I agree with your comment about gender being particularly relevant to the novel. Cinder’s role as a mechanic acts to combat stereotypes of girlhood. As well, Cinder’s initial response to acquiring the dress is another example of her untraditional characteristics of femininity. Cinder makes a rational response in that she would rather use the money to advance her job as a mechanic, than purchase a dress. Cinder again demonstrates her rationality in using her money to purchase a new foot. It is a functional purchase, not tainted by any aesthetic desires (by this, I mean that she did not purchase skin grafts to look more human, and instead chose something rational). Girls are often seen as irrational, and this idea extends into womanhood. Cinder’s lack of a traditional feminine trade as well as her rationality act to enforce a positive image of femininity. She is a princess, which is possibly the ultimate traditional symbol of femininity, yet she does not need to conform to gender norms. Though I understand the point of assuming gender irrelevant in cyborg bodies, I would argue that Cinder’s gender is crucial to the novel and exists to challenge traditional feminine stereotypes.

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  5. Re: The Cyborg Race: Ethnic Discrimination in Meyer’s Cinder – Hailey L. and Brianna B.

    Your post raises worthwhile questions about the similarities between marginalized people in modern society and Meyer’s constructed Cyborg race. However, I would like to present an argument against the idea that Cinder’s gender is irrelevant simply because she is a cyborg; I think that this is a gross oversimplification of both the author’s intent and intersectional identities.

    Cinder’s gender identity is not effectively circumvented as a result of her racial identity. In fact, her physical body and societal conditions are heavily implicated as a Cyborg female, in quite the same manner that a female body in the 21st Century would be implicated. Adri’s ownership over Cinder, for example, stands as a clear parallel to the ownership that husbands had over their wives until women’s rights movements demanded change. As you quote in relation to denied bodily rights, “Cinder belonged to Adri [legally] as much as the household android and so did her money;” I think this quote is fitting in relation to women’s rights being denied in relation to property and finance ownership too.

    Moreover, the idea of the female body being used for exchange, monetary or otherwise, is exemplified when Adri submits Cinder as a test subject against her will – this idea remains alive in undeveloped parts of the world, especially in relation to sex trafficking. The denial of bodily rights present in Cinder can also be related to the discussion and implementation of legislation surrounding abortion – the stripping of bodily rights is, time and time again, aligned with the identity of “woman”. Through these parallels, I seek to expose the gender implications present in the workings of Cinder’s life, despite her being a Cyborg.

    To further emphasize my assertion, Cinder’s subversion of gender stereotypes through her profession as a mechanic acts as proof that the expectation of her femininity remains intact. Also, the story being based on the well-known princess fairy tale Cinderella further implicates gender normative expectations of Cinder, and therefore places her within a larger context that does not render gender insignificant simply because of her Cyborg identity.

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  6. I would like to begin with your argument that “Cinder is not treated as a human being, causing her gender to become irrelevant”, as I found that really insightful. I also never thought of this, but definitely agree. The simple fact that Cinder is referred to as a “thing”, and described as being cyborg Although she is part human, her cyborg parts make her a cyborg and nothing more. Her cyborg parts cause people to only look at that, which is why she chooses to hide them. In turn, this completely takes away from every aspect of what makes up Cinder’s identity, and part of that identity is being female. The concept you present is also demonstrated in Cinder’s personality. She doesn’t care for unnecessary feminine things, such as buying a dress for the ball. Details like this show the novels disregard for femininity in a way because, Cinder clearly has more important things to worry about. Her “cyborg – ness” has completely voided her from any natural feminine traits, such as crying and blushing. To move away from the ignoring of gender in the novel, I will now move on to your discussion questions and the problem with the “metaphor for race” that occurs through the novel.
    To answer your first discussion question, I would have to agree that the discrimination of cyborgs is more of an issue of race. That said, the problem is that the metaphor seems to override the entire racial issue, which brings in your second discussion question. The reason I say it is more an issue of race is the use of the body as a means of discrimination, rather than simply upper or lower class status. Although Cinder is like a slave for Adri, she was placed in that position because she is a Cyborg. If her class position were the sole reason for her mistreatment, it would be a class discrimination. Bringing in a physicality to demonstrate the discrimination causes it to become a racial issue. That said, I do not think it should be regarded as race, because using the cyborg body as a metaphor disregards the very real racial discriminations we still see today. I am simply stating the ways in which I can see why it may be regarded more in this way rather than in terms of class.
    I have to admit, I disagree with Sierra Hale, in saying that using technology “as a metaphor for race” will “encourage discussions of contemporary society’s racial politics”. For us as students that are critically thinking about issues presented in these novels, such a metaphor certainly stimulated our discussion about how problematic it is. For a teenage girl reading a cool take on Cinderella however, I can’t see how this is the case. Meyer completely glosses over racial discriminations, and her making Cinder a white character portrays this as well. She could have created a colored character being discriminated in the same way, and I think it would have been much more eye – opening than the way she chose to ignore it, which is intensely problematic.

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  7. While I agree with the arguments presented surrounding the racial construction of the cyborg. I contest your statement that this discrimination can be either related to race or class. Intersectionality is the site of individual experiences wherein various life factors are considered. It is not possible to discuss a factor such as race and not discuss factors such as class, gender, ability etc. Therefore, the question of the discrimination of the cyborgs being an issue of race or class is problematic. We see, through the construction of the race of cyborg, that there is an inherent class difference between the cyborgs and humans. As the novel develops, social anxieties and hierarchies are exposed through the thoughts and behaviours exhibited by Cinder and the characters with whom she interacts. The use of visible technological changes in cyborgs can be correlated with the visible differences within racialized groups. The stigmas, stereotypes and discrimination which individuals experience is directly tied to their physical appearance both within the novel and modern reality. I believe that the author is purposefully critiquing modern society’s active discrimination of racialized bodies through her discloses surrounding the cyborgs in Cinder.

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  8. To continue the discussion of “Cinder is only seen as a valuable member of society once her immunity to the disease is discovered” made by Jen, I think this point from the original post does not consider the value of Cinder’s skills as a mechanic within the community. When Prince Kai is desperate to recover valuable information on his android, the royal mechanics instruct him to see Cinder because “‘[t]hey say [she’s] the best mechanic in New Beijing’” (Meyer 10). Likewise, the narration confirms Cinder is aware of her title as the “best mechanic in the city” (10). That being said, most of her customers are unaware she is a cyborg. She is clear to “never broadcast the reason for her talent” because “the fewer people who knew she was cyborg, the better” (10). Therefore, Cinder’s skills as a mechanic are valuable in society prior to the discovery of her immunity. However, her success as a mechanic relies on her ability to “pass” as a regular teenage girl and not a cyborg, thus the problematic undertone of the New Beijing’s society.

    I agree with the counter point mentioned above that addresses the issue of Cinder’s gender as irrelevant. Cinder’s opposition to the stereotypical roles of a girl is mentioned in the novel. In fact, Prince Kai emphasizes that Cinder is the face to the famous mechanic, “‘You’re Linh Cinder?…The mechanic?’” (8). Kai continues to express his confusion by stating, “‘You’re not quite what I was expecting’” (8). Later, in the lab, Dr. Erland confirms through holographic images that Cinder’s “‘reproductive system is almost untouched’” (116). While Cinder’s response is sarcastic, she asks Dr. Erland if “this ha[s] anything to do with [her] immunity’” (116). Dr. Erland responds is uncertain. There are hints to Cinder’s gender, but they are not explored. As Chole previously mentioned, “we do not see very many instances in the text where cyborgs of different genders are directly compared.” I would extend this argument to say that even each round of the Cyborg Draft does not require a male and female representative like the Hunger Games.

    Due to the lack of information provided by the author, it is challenging to indefinitely state Cinder’s gender is irrelevant. Overall, most of the points I discussed relate to what Laura mentions on intersectionality. It is impossible to separate one’s self-identified gender, class, ethnicity, race, ability etc. While gender is not discussed in detail that does not mean Cinder’s treatment is based solely on being cyborg, there are factors that intertwine to create her experience, which include, as I mentioned, her ability to “pass” as a human teen girl that further problematizes the novel.

    Work Cited
    Meyer, Marissa. Cinder. Feiwel and Friends, 2012.

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  9. As Sierra Hale states, Meyer uses “technology as a social metaphor for race to encourage discussions of contemporary society’s racial politics” (15). The treatment of cyborgs does correspond with the treatment of “othered” races in our society. The way cyborgs do not have bodily integrity because they are considered subhuman could be tied to notions of slavery, when people of colour did not have autonomy over their own bodies and served under their owners – relating to Cinder and her stepmother.

    However, the point about Cinder’s gender being irrelevant, it can be argued that this does not apply in our society. While for Cinder, her identity as a cyborg erases her gender as female, in our society this does not happen. Racialized bodies are marginalized not only by race, but gender as well (along with many others – this is applying the concept of intersectionality). These aspects of their identity that would create more barriers for them within society. For example, a woman of colour would face different social struggles than a man of colour.

    It is important to critique how using technology as a social metaphor raises issues. Does this use of technology take away from the actual issues surrounding race within current society? Is it well aware to the readers that this is the intended correlation? Does this use of technology take away from the actual conversation about race? There is a discomfort with addressing race in society, therefore can it be said that Meyer reifies this through the lack of using race to make her argument?

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  10. I don’t agree that it is strictly a discrimination of race, in response to your first question. Cyborgs are treated as lower class, and anyone with the plague is worse. Being part cyborg is, in a way, a statement of what class you belong to. What I mean by this is that by being cyborg you are seen as having a lower class standing. For example, when Cinder is at the palace she hides her cyborg parts from the prince because Cyborgs aren’t allowed to attend the ball. At least I think so, as it states “She was cyborg, and she would never go to the ball” (chapter 3) I couldn’t think of any other way this quote would make sense. It does appear that Cyborgs are being racialized by the way they are mistreated, but the discrimination is also by class – it’s hard to separate racial and class discrimination. Cyborgs are not all of low income but they are all mistreated, with an example being the Cyborg draft. Humans are elite, Cyborgs are middle class, and Robots and Plague victims are the lower class as they are both treated as not human or no-longer human.
    In response to your second question, I think you have mentioned the major ways that Cyborgs are racialized, similarly to specific races today. As discussed in class recently, there was testing done on African Americans, when looking for a cure to a disease. Consent had to be given by those participating in the study however, they were not given the information of what it would entail. Also I would urge you to call into question our current abuse and treatment of animals – the way we test rat’s brains, or the ways we test skin care products on other animals such as rabbits and dogs. Chloe touches on this in an above comment, however I think it is more closely related than we realize. Animals are used as a means for experimentation and finding cures for human disease, is this not what Cyborgs are used for in Cinder? In this instance I feel that the lack of gender recognition could be related more to the treatment of animals rather than the treatment of other races – specifically, those that are racialized have in the past been sold into specific jobs BECAUSE of their gender.

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  11. Hi all,

    I wanted to speak to your second discussion question about Hale’s argument that technology is used as a metaphor for race. In Cinder, I would argue that there are definite parallels between the ways in which Cinder’s cyborg body is marginalized in the context of New-Beijing and the ways in which racialized bodies are marginalized in contemporary society. For example, Hale discusses the concept of “passing as white” which can be seen as reminiscent of the ways in which Cinder tries to “pass” as human. Hale notes that Cinder spends a lot of time in the novel expressing anxiety about potentially revealing her true cyborg identity. It’s also important to note that Cinder does manage to resist some of the structures that oppress her, which I would suggest is a powerful and impactful message for YA readers, particularly girls. With the cyborg draft, for example, though Cinder knows that she cannot combat Adri’s decision to make her participate in the plague research, Cinder uses her value in the project as a tool to empowerment. Cinder demands that she receives monetary compensation for her services in an account that is separate from Adri’s so she does not have access to her money (Meyer 103).

    Despite Cinder’s resistance, I would argue that by mimicking these same kind of racial oppressions and masking them as issues of technological oppression does a disservice to YA readers. This creates a disconnect between the readers and the characters and in some sense trivializes their experiences of racial oppression because they can not make explicit connections between their experiences and that of Cinder’s. Mary J. Couzelis makes a similar argument in her chapter “The Future is Pale” of the Brave New Teenagers anthology. Couzelis argues that when YA dystopian novels ignore race or present a “monochromatic future” that this implies that we live in a post racial society, where racial inequalities have been eradicated or that in this new world their ethnicities did not survive (Couzelis 131). To bring this back to your original question, I would assert that this discussion of oppression that is modelled through the cyborg race and narrated through Cinder’s experience does not encourage conversations about contemporary racial politics. Rather, I would argue that it discourages discussion of modern day racial tensions because the author does not make a clear or explicit connection the the oppression of cyborgs to that of racialized individuals.

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