Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University

Is the Sonographic Fetus a Cyborg?

Marilyn Maness Mehaffy wrote that the “sonographic fetus is in many ways the ultimate cyborg in that it is ‘created’ in a space of virtuality that straddles the conventional boundary between an organic body and a digital text.” I would argue that though the sonographic fetus adheres to Cyborg Theory as a manifestation of something that is not only organic but virtual, it is in many ways the very first step in thrusting the gender duality upon the individual°. The sex of a fetus is only known through the image provided by the sonographer and without it and until that point, the fetus exists in a limbo of genderless existence referred to only by guessed pronouns and androgynous names like “baby.”

Once the sonography is provided the fetus, before it can even know life outside amniotic fluid, is having its gender prepared for it. Whether it is a “tough guy” bib or a “daddy’s little angel bib,” pink paint or blue paint slathered across the walls, society prepares for the arrival not just of a baby, but of something conceived to be distinctly male or female. The sonographic fetus is the first step in society shoving the individual along the spectrum- fostering and nurturing the traits which are prescribed to the baby's sex. From birth, boys are offered Tonka trucks and Legos to foster masculinity and girls are given baby dolls and Easy Bake Ovens to foster femininity as is prescribed by the distinctly labeled aisles reading “Boy’s Toys” and “Girl’s Toys.”

This is all to say that gender is something that is socially constructed inherently flawed. Males display masculine characteristics and females feminine ones because it is how they are socialized and taught. Individuals, from before they are born, are offered somewhat predetermined paths-of-being based on the little speck of genitalia displayed by the sonogram. Not only is gender an antagonistic dualism, but it is one fabricated by a patriarchal society, and lacking any genuine basis for existence.


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