Menstruapps: the geographies of leaky cyborgs

Authors: Laura Shipp*, Royal Holloway, University of London
Topics: Women, Political Geography, Cyberinfrastructure
Keywords: Digital geographies, feminist geographies, cyborgs.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Roosevelt 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Menstruapps, or apps that can track menstrual cycles, are used by millions across the world. Each of their users are asked to input daily changes and feelings within their bodies so that the app’s algorithms can give them predictions or information about what is happening within them. These applications are particularly interesting for the boundaries and scales they transcend. Their use intensifies the relationship between the smartphone and the body as one is asked to mediate and understand the processes of the other. As much as these processes are inherently ‘leaky’, so is this connection. As the app attempts to contain the leaky body through quantified tracking options such as moods and symptoms, the app is simultaneously leaky of that information. The data generated is collected, stored and analysed by app developers who decide how it is used. Together, the phone, the app and the body become enmeshed in a much larger network of organisations, infrastructures and data. This is a network that comes back to act on those data-producing bodies in the forms of targeted advertisements, marketing and alterations to reproductive health standards. This paper will highlight the need to investigate menstruapps from a feminist digital geography perspective.

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