Love from the Machine: Technosexualities and the Desire for Machinic Bodies

Ann-Renee Clark, Florida International University


This dissertation explores the dimensions and practices of "technosexualities" - human desires for machinic bodies. For the purposes of this project, technosexualities are defined as sexual and/or other intimate desires for technologically enhanced or constructed humanoid bodies ("machinic bodies") or the desire to be such a machinic body. A machinic body may be mechanical (robotic) and/or digital, techno-biological (as per biological computing and/or a laboratory-“grown” or built body), or “cyborg” (cybernetic organism, a partially technologically-modified, partially biological body.) Rather than interpreting technosexuals as troubled or disturbed “fetishists” who are attracted to the unnatural, or imposing suppositions of feelings of impotence and desire for power as other sources have portrayed them, I explore technosexualities through the lens of “bodies and pleasures” (Foucault, 1978.) As such, this project engages with literature on bodies and embodiment (including medical anthropology literature on the body,) gender, literatures of the burgeoning nonhuman turn in the social sciences that explores human/nonhuman bodily interactions, science and technology studies, stigmatization, and the pertinent literature on online communities. Understanding the complication and fluidities of body/technology interactions with the nonhuman, especially surrounding desire, intimacies, and perceived bodily boundaries (particularly for individuals who want to be machinic bodies) is of increasing importance as new and emerging technologies become further integrated into contemporary life (and bodies, in the form of both medical and cosmetic surgical interventions) This project also explores this non-heteronormative, non-reproductive set of desires by looking at how those who engage in technosexualities of various types approach issues of stigmatization, secrecy, and the pressure of “passing” under compulsory heteronormativity. Although no attempt is made to discover some root "cause" of technosexualities per se (as this is not a medical investigation and technosexualities are not being treated here as a paraphilia - a "fetish") a potential and partial explanation for technosexual desires is discussed. Through a combination of structured online interviews, participant-observation at the online research site of "Fembot Central" and discourse analysis at the research site, I investigate the thoughts, affects, practices, and group interactions of those who desire machinic bodies.

Subject Area

Communication|Sexuality|Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Clark, Ann-Renee, "Love from the Machine: Technosexualities and the Desire for Machinic Bodies" (2019). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI28315716.