Emancipation and Sexual Politics in the Digital Age: Indeterminacy and the Dialectics of the Real – DiGeSt. Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies – article

Emancipation and Sexual Politics in the Digital Age: Indeterminacy and the Dialectics of the Real

Stocchetti | DiGeSt. Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies

2019-10-15

I look at the impact of the digital turn in sexual politics from the standpoint of emancipation and through the interpretative lenses of the dialectics of the real. I use the concept of ‘dialectics of the real’, to refer to an epistemological approach based on the idea that what we commonly refer to as ‘reality’ is an impermanent result of a process involving opposing tensions and itself a stake in a political competition. This approach allows me to formulate three arguments. First, the moral effects of the digital turn in sexual politics are fundamentally ambivalent and, consequently, it is virtually impossible to formulate any moral claims independently of identifiable standpoints and empirical instances (moral indeterminacy). Second, the inherent ambivalence of digital media infrastructure that enables and controls, promotes and represses, reveals and hides, and so on, is constitutive of technology and technological development itself, and is the whole point of the critical theory of technology (political indeterminacy). Third, the capacity of digital infrastructure to generate ‘sexual geographies’ can be interpreted in relation to the process of globalization and the relative influence, in the dialectics of the real, of an ideological project that seeks to enforce a single notion of reality worldwide – a project sometimes referred to as Neoliberalism (ideological indeterminacy). The approach of the dialectics of the real, engages with the digital turn in sexual politics in terms of moral, political and ideological indeterminacy and, at the same time, establishes an epistemological basis for the comparative empirical analysis and normative assessment of the impact of the digital turn in sexual politics.

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