2019 — Critical Essay

Cyborg Sentiments
Xenofeminism and its close comrades, bedfellows and associates

Sophie Lewis

Red Pepper

There are lots of punchy apothegms in the XFM, and a surprising number of column inches dedicated to disparaging the timid, fearful, melancholic, unambitious existing left, reminiscent of the endless irritating broadsides against ‘folk politics’ in the 2015 manifesto Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work. Reading the ebullient newness XF announces for itself against the grain, however, another question one can pose is, to the extent that one could pin it down, how original was the Xenofeminist Manifesto? ‘Anti-natural’, ‘techno-materialist’, ‘neo-rationalist’, ‘non-absolute[ly] universalist’: what’s new here, underneath its futuristic sheen?

The answer is, respectably, a bit. In its opening lines, XF defined itself as a feminism dedicated simply to the (150-year-old) techno-optimist ‘idea of using existing and emerging technologies to re-engineer the world’. It followed this up with the hardly unheard-of view that our present historical conjuncture ‘requires a philosophy at ease with computation’. To underscore this aesthetically, most of Laboria Cuboniks’s section headings were verbal imperatives seemingly borrowed from the hacker milieu: Zero, Interrupt, Trap, Parity, Adjust, Carry, Overflow.