Schlauderaff, S. (2019) Re-imagining Futurity for Fat, Disabled and ‘Unhealthy’ Bodyminds: A response to 23andMe’s Health + Ancestry Genetic Testing Kits. “Fat Matter(s): The Art-Science(s) of Future Body-Making”. Ed. Sav Schlauderaff & Krizia Puig. Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society. Taylor & Francis. doi 10.1080/21604851.2019.1651124
ABSTRACT: In the era of rising biotech corporations integrating into the medical landscape, how can a future for non-normative body- minds be reimagined? The biotech company 23andMe sells the idea of controlling, curing and knowing one’s bodymind and biological future on a genetic level through their Health + Ancestry kits, research, and various new products and tests for weight loss. 23andMe plays into the pre-existing desires to erase fat, disabled, and “unhealthy” bodyminds from the future. This article explores the impact of 23andMe’s Health + Ancestry kit and research initiatives on fat, disabled and “unhealthy” bodyminds to question which bodyminds are understood as deserving empowerment and which are marked for erasure – and moreover, who is benefiting from this. This is accomplished through outlining the roles of technology, new media, social media influencers, researchers, and medical pro- fessionals in marketing and normalizing direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing kits and self-surveillance. Further, this article asks how to imagine alternative means of survival through crip care networks, coalition building among fat, dis- abled and “unhealthy” bodyminds, and a re-imagining of bio- tech products through crip technoscience.
Schlauderaff, S. (2018). Rejecting the Desire for "Health": Centering Crip Bodyminds in Genetic Testing, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Number: 10817132. ISBN: 9780355939767.
ABSTRACT: In the era of rising biotech corporations integrating into the medical landscape, how can we imagine a future for non-normative bodyminds? In this thesis I work to map the multiple histories and present realities that are shaping society’s views not only on direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing kits, but also on societal conceptualizations of “health” and disability through an in-depth case study of the biotech company 23andMe located in Mountain View, California. Here I draw from multiple areas of scholarship to contextualize DTC kits, such as eugenic histories in the United States, medical experimentation, sterilization, reproductive justice work, critiques of genealogical race testing kits, and queer and crip theory. Moreover, these areas of research elucidate how the concept of “health” has been constructed, how differences in intersecting identities play a role in whose bodyminds are policed and eradicated, and how various non-normative and minoritarian identities have been labelled as “unhealthy,” “unfit,” and “disabled” historically and currently. Therefore, this contextualization is necessary, as histories of eugenics impact all non-normative bodyminds, that is, people who are not white, cisgender, heterosexual, male, ablebodied/ableminded, Christian, U.S. citizens, thin and middle- or upper-class.
Further, through analysis of 23andMe’s social media sites, advertisements, website and blogsite I showcase how 23andMe markets itself and its DTC Health and Ancestry kit, which bodyminds are represented in their advertisements, as well as how the company discusses health and disability. Additionally, I analyze media and academic journal articles from 2006-2018 to understand how U.S. societal views about 23andMe and the DTC kits have changed over time, how disability, health and disease are discussed in relation to DTC kits, and how society’s rhetoric about 23andMe compares to how 23andMe presents itself. Together, these two axes of analysis work to show who has access to DTC kits, who the marketing audience is, and which bodyminds are being left out of the conversation. Overall, this thesis argues that 23andMe’s DTC kits are playing into harmful histories of eugenics through the erasure of disabled bodyminds from its advertising and through its continuous emphasis on curing and controlling disease and disability.
Puig, Krizia. The Synthetic Hyper Femme: On Sex Dolls, Fembots, and the Futures of Sex, 2017: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Web. ISBN: 9780355523546
ABSTRACT: In this thesis, I use queer of color and intersectional feminist knowledges and practices–and draw from performance studies, media and cultural studies, post-humanist theories, and robotics to read the hyperrealistic sex doll and robotic prototypes of female sex robots as cultural artifacts and as objects. I specifically analyze the processes of production of the dolls and the ways in which owners and producers genderize and racialize them. I argue that, beyond the simple commodification of women, the high-end sex doll is a performative commodity comprised of technologies produced and able to endure the reproduction of categories of social difference (gender, race, class, and so on). The ability to sustain the reproduction of those categories through performative practices, makes the dolls able to provide the experience of owning a stable female servant subject—with a customized appearance, identity, and personality. Their impressive performative power exposes the socially constructed nature of fixed and oppressive humanistic notions of the subject, precisely because they reveal that categories of social difference can be mass produced and customized. I explore the ways in which signifiers and/or representations of womanhood are becoming womanhood itself. I argue that womanhood—as a gender category—is detaching from what we know as organic women and is becoming a commodified performative space, in which womanhood is performed without hiding the simulations that gender involves for sexual pleasure. In this sense, I highlight the existence of what I am calling “synthetic hyperfemininity”: a performative location (habitable by organic and synthetic women) that exists in that space in which the sex industry intersects with the industrial complex that reinforces whiteness, thinness, being cis-gender and being heterosexual as what is considered desirable and beautiful. I argue that the sex doll is a high-tech puppet with agency that, despite her immobility, drives the simulation of synthetic hyperfemininity. To conclude, I delve into my experience visiting Abyss Creations, and explain why looking forward to a queer futurity where womxn of color and Queer Trans People of Color can live their lives to their fullest involves a process of reimagining sexual technologies.