‘Beyond Fake’: Real Dolls™ And The Posthuman Troubling Of Femininity And Desire

Jennifer Dawn Whitney
In Volume 1, Issue 1
Spring 2010

Abstract

This paper explores the complexities of posthuman gendered identity and desire as represented in the Real Doll – the eerily life-like sex doll with a fully articulated skeleton and ‘anatomically correct’ silicone body. To begin, I investigate how, by way of Lyotard’s explanation of the pornographic, the Real Doll perpetuates a heteronormative and idealized femininity within popular media. From here however, I examine, through the work of Judith Butler and Kim Toffoletti, how the Real Doll indeed challenges and complicates such fixed notions of gender and arrives at a space of fetish, fantasy, and eventually, the uncanny. The uncanny, and particularly the queer uncanny, embodied in the work of performance and video artist Amber Hawk Swanson and her Amber Doll project, is where I see the most productive possibilities for the Real Doll in the destabilization of gendered identity and desire.

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