PAPER & TALK
“Hacking” the Female Body: Self-tracking and Disciplinary Power
As self-tracking apps began flooding the market, journalists and technologists relied on metaphors around capitalist ideas of efficiency and productivity, reinforcing the idea that our bodies need to be quantified, analyzed, and improved.
Women’s bodies have historically been subjected to regimes of surveillance and control. The proliferation of fertility and pregnancy apps that encourage women to compare their own health against a normalized standard encourages a form of disciplinary control. More recently, these power relations have manifested as self-tracking apps in the workplace that keep tabs on pregnancy and reproductive health as part of “corporate wellness” programs.
This paper demonstrates how self-tracking apps constitute a “disciplinary technology,” exerting a biopolitical effect on female bodies, pushing them towards normalized modes of interaction and embodiment.
Image credit: Theorizing the Web