Fembots Everywhere


Via Ann Friedman, Alicia Rebensdorf considers the fembot phenomenon from a feminist perspective, with special attention to the Bionic Woman remake, the Heinecken fembot bots, and a new campaign for Svedka Vodka that I haven't actually seen. It's an interesting essay, but I think that in some ways it suffers from a failure to put fembots within the larger cultural category of representations of robots more generally.

From the R.U.R., the robot has almost universally been a locus of fear and anxiety rather than fantasy . . . the male robot's strength and endurance is a threat, not wish-fulfillment. Typically, the crux of the matter is that the robots betray their masters and take over the world (The Matrix, The Terminator, etc.) and robot stories that don't follow this scheme are so intensely against the grain that you get things like the movie version of I, Robot where, unable to fit Asimov's actual stories into our archetypes, they turn it into yet another robot rebellion tale.

I'm not sure if the right thing to say is that the fembot is a fantasy that serves as a counterpoint to the (presumptively male) robot, or else if consideration of the broader picture undermines the fembot-as-fantasy conceit, but I do think you need to consider the broader context. This is especially true insofar as these archetypes can coexist, as in the appearance of Priss, "a basic pleasure mode," in the midst of Blade Runner's tale of replicant rebellion.