2018 — Book Review

Genderhacking an Alien Future
On Helen Hester's Xenofeminism

Peter Heft

The Mantle

Hester’s nodule, with its focus on technofeminism, thus explains xenofeminism as a “technomaterialist, anti-naturalist, and gender abolitionist form of feminism” wherein liberation can be realized through the reappropriation of existent technologies. For Hester, the first part of xenofeminism’s tripartite structure lies in its recognition that technology, far from something to be simply rejected, is “part of the warp and weft of our everyday lives” and thus becomes a locus for activism. While recognizing that existent social structures constrain usages of technologies, xenofeminism stresses that technology is not inherently anything and exists on a plane upon which political action can occur in an attempt to “‘re-engineer the world’.”

Hester further couches xenofeminism in staunch anti-naturalism where, in a break with modern ecofeminists, she rejects the romanticization of “wildness” and rejects the view that ‘nature’ is a limit to growth. More specifically, xenofeminism takes nature (and naturalness) not as fixed categories or conditions, but as “space[s] for contestation” wherein the body can be pushed beyond supposed ‘natural’ limits. As Hester notes, “[b]iology is not destiny, because biology itself can be technologically transformed.”