This talk will draw a line between Mommy’s Basement to Outer Space and offer a feminist alternative to the technological escapism that pervades our present moment, justly termed the Age of You. The lone male in Mommy’s Basement, equipped with technological portals to more habitable worlds, is by now a common cultural trope. But the cliché goes beyond the wounded masculinity that festers in the extreme right wings of the political spectrum. Mommy’s Basement contains a motley crew of men who temporarily descend and retreat from social life, including the hikikomori (Japan), alt-right hate mongers, internet trolls, the new precariat, internet addicts, gamers, enterprising tech-bros, and (maybe) a few geniuses hard at work. But as this talk will argue, Mommy’s Basement isn’t a futile space: it is a powerful media lab, where unjust ideas about gender and social difference become part of the logic of new technological designs.
Sarah Sharma is Associate Professor of Media Theory at the ICCIT/Faculty of Information and Director of the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. Her research and teaching focuses on the relationship between technology, time and labour and in particular on issues related to gender, race and class. She is the author of In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics (Duke UP, 2014) and is currently working on a new book, The sExit, which explores the relationship between technology, gender and cultural fantasies of exit. At the McLuhan Centre, Sarah directs interdisciplinary research and public programming concerned with navigating and understanding the complexities of contemporary digital life.