After the Future: n Hypotheses of Post-Cyber Feminism. By Helen Hester

This is the first in a series of writing commissions developed in relation to material from Kathy Rae Huffman’s media art library while installed at Res during 2016/17. The next stage of this programme will launch in January 2018.


After the Future: n Hypotheses of Post-Cyber Feminism

by Helen Hester





  1. This accusation may be partially undermined by Plant’s consistent framing of the female/feminine/feminist in terms of the simulatory or the virtual (many thanks to Amy Ireland for drawing my attention to this point). This is also reflected in comments by the Australian cyberfeminist collective VNS Matrix. Discussing the group’s provocative slogan ‘The Clitoris is a Direct Line to the Matrix’, member Virginia Barratt remarks that ‘this was read by many as essentialist, but […] we were talking about the clitoris as a technology’ (2017, personal correspondence, June 30).
  2. What is Sadie planting, and what is Sadie plucking?
  3. This one relatively small-scale action did transit to something larger, then – but only to exert a chilling effect upon the possibility of such transits in subsequent cyberfeminist projects.
  4. Or, if that suggests too precise a transition, at least coping with one specific moment on the perpetually choppy waters of shifting gender political priorities, perspectives, and commitments.
  5. I was reminded of this slogan (which is taken from a VNS Matrix poster from 1994) by Virginia Barratt and Petra Kendall, who titled their recent short course on future-oriented gender politics, “The Future is Unmanned: Technologies for Corrupt Feminisms”. Discussing the origins of this phrase with the Australian cyberfeminist contingent, however, it became apparent that its emergence was the result of a sort of intellectual cross-pollination. The poster’s slogan was itself a reworking of a line from a Sadie Plant article from the year before: ‘No longer the void, the gap, or the absence, the veils are already cybernetic; an interface taking off on its own unmanned futures’ (1993: 11). I would like to extend my sincere thanks for this information to Virginia Barratt and Amy Ireland. I dedicate this essay to them.


Helen Hester is Head of Film and Media at the University of West London. Her research interests include technofeminism, sexuality studies, and theories of social reproduction, and she is a member of the international feminist collective Laboria Cuboniks. She is the author of Beyond Explicit: Pornography and the Displacement of Sex (SUNY Press, 2014), the co-editor of the collections Fat Sex: New Directions in Theory and Activism (Ashgate, 2015) and Dea ex Machina (Merve, 2015), and series editor for Ashgate’s ‘Sexualities in Society’ book series.