Carbon Fibre Masculinity, Homosociality, Gendered Surfaces, & Idiot Academics

A surface of carbon fiber reinforced polymer, you pervert.
A surface of carbon fiber reinforced polymer, you pervert.

Tell you right up front that the only way to be sure of solving the crisis in higher education is to nuke universities from orbit and then salt the grounds once the ashes blow away. See if you don’t agree by the post’s end.

Title of the peer-reviewed paper is “Carbon Fibre Masculinity: Disability and Surfaces of Homosociality” by Anna Hickey-Moody in Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities.

By “carbon fibre” she means carbon fiber; actual fibers of carbon. She says, “Contemporary cultural economies of carbon fibre are, in part, a late capitalist (Jameson) technology of hegemonic (or dominant) masculinity”. It takes a man to make carbon fiber.

As a technology of hegemonic masculinity, carbon fibre extends the surfaces of bodies and produces masculinity on and across surfaces, male and female bodies…

I argue that carbon fibre can be a homosocial surface; that is, carbon fibre becomes both a surface extension of the self and a third-party mediator in homosocial relationships, a surface that facilitates intimacy between men in ways that devalue femininity in both male and female bodies.

There is no way to diagnose the magnificent errors here. It would be like trying to explain what is wrong with the proposition (this example is from David Stove) “In some previous state of our existence we knew the number three face-to-face, as it is in itself, and by some kind of union with it.” All one can do is stare, and hope that the proposition holder is not between us and the exit.

Sedgwick’s work shows how intimacy between men is facilitated across human–carbon-fibre-composite assemblages…, a homosocial relationship is an intimate friendship between two (or more) men, which is misogynist and which is based on the disavowal of the possibility of their sexual desire for one another.

Not desiring sodomy is misogynist?

The properties of carbon fibres, such as high stiffness, workable strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion (Zheng and Feldman), make the material very popular for building spacecraft, military equipment, and motorsports/formula one cars, civil engineering construction and accessories for competition sports…As a late modern phallic signifier, carbon fibre…

Like the many other signifiers of the phallus and the successful realization of male libido that occupy the global capitalist cultural imaginary and shape economies of relation in late capitalism, carbon fibre is the masculine prosthesis of the decade.

One source says, “A carbon fiber is a long, thin strand of material about 0.0002-0.0004 [inches] in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms” so we wonder what kind of men Hickey-Moody has been dating.

In The Logic of Sense Deleuze gives us a theoretical framework for reading surfaces as assemblages of different wholes that articulate together as a surface that makes “sense,” and that makes sex in a redistribution of libidinal desire.

By “surfaces” she means just what you think: surfaces. Thus “The cultural production of surfaces is a sexed and gendered politic that is naturalized and is a way of extending, or growing, sexism.” Also:

Secondly, Deleuze argues that surfaces can articulate redistributed libido, or, as he puts it, bodies can produce certain surfaces as a way of maintaining control of their sexual power; the de-sexualization or the sexualization of surfaces is a way in “which the sexual object is maintained” (Deleuze 274).

Anna Hickey-Moody is—see if you can guess first—“a Lecturer in Gender and Cultural Studies” at the University of Sydney. She is purposely put in front of Australia’s children and allowed to teach among others “GCST2609 – Masculinities“. “By way of introduction to this subject, we will also discuss the fact that men’s lives are very gendered…”

According to Wikipedia, the M-29, a.k.a. the “Davy Crockett“, is “one of the smallest nuclear weapon systems ever built.” Versions of it “weighed about 51 lb (23 kg), with a yield equivalent to somewhere between 10 and 20 tons of TNT.” Which is plenty to take out the University of Sydney. It would be charming to consider the weight of the Crockett’s casing could be reduced if it were re-engineered with carbon fiber.


  1. Michael 2

    Publish or perish even if it means scraping the bottom of the barrel. Obviously no one else saw (or sees) the connection between composite materials and libido.

  2. The Journal has existed since 1993. According to Researchgate, “The journal promotes inquiry into questions of existential and political definition and agency, on the personal, collective and institutional levels, and encourages the work of spirited and experimental theoretical writing in all areas of value production.” This is codespeak for “philosophical nonsense”. It also clearly indicates the journal is about thinking and nothing more. Kind of like a brain-storming session, without any restraints on usefulness.

    Gender and Cultural Studies is also nonsense class. That people pay for this, that parents pay for their children to learn this drivel is not that much different from any other con game out there. It’s just there are more gullible, wealthy people now and government handouts for free “education”.

    I do love the way the writer uses stilted language and really big words to sound authoritative. Too bad she’s not saying anything.

  3. Gary in Erko

    The world needs a carbon fibre barbie doll.

  4. Hack

    Darn, Dr. Anna Hickey-Moody has stolen my thunder, do you think I can still publish “Diffraction Grating Lesbianism: Disability, Surfaces, and Translucence of Homosociality?

    I hope so, I have spent numerous weeks linking lesbianism to diffraction gratings and the opposition by misogynistic male chauvinist physicists, I even have p values!

  5. Trigger Warnings

    Briggs, forget the Davy Crockett. This sort of numptyism is the raison d’etre for invention of the neutron bomb. Why waste perfectly serviceable infrastructure?

  6. Ray

    Are you sure this isn’t another hoax by Alan Sokal?

  7. Gary

    Sure, publish away. Just be sure to cite this looney-bird paper to show you’re up to date with the literature. Nice idea you have, too. Diffraction gratings show such splendid rainbow colors.

  8. JH

    I really have no idea and don’t care what ‘carbon fibre masculinity” is. There are definitely better things to explore.

    Well, if Briggs wants to

    nuke universities from orbit,

    let’s start with Cornell University at NYC, for which Briggs teaches a summer course… as my Grandpa liked to say, “You gotta to start somewhere.”

  9. Ken

    Finally this blog brings out something truly ridiculously inane — the sought-for entertainment value is restored.

    Nuking from orbit, unless its a sub-orbital transit of a ground-based missile, is quite inefficient & perhaps the most costly way to go…though the sentiment fits.

    Did anyone note the author’s (Hickey-Moody;’s) research interests include: “place” and “the production of social disadvantage.” Not ‘how social disadvantage is produced’ but the actual ‘production of social disadvantage.’ Presumably, something got lost in transcribing that last one, but one ought not presume, especially with that ilk…

  10. brad tittle

    On Quora, I asked a question …

    “What is the Grahamth Digit of Pi?”

    A mathematician correctly chastised me for asking a really stupid question.

    For me it was a joking question. I know it is a stupid question. But there are times I think the Billionth digit of Pi is a stupid use of resources. The study of Pi isn’t stupid. Pi shows up so many places. Circles show up so many places, partly because we like circles.

    Graham’s number is its own brand of pseudo lunacy with a purpose. It is an idea even though we might attempt to express it digitally, it is about as useful as discussing the distance in mm to the Alpha Quadrant.

    Someone posted a picture on facebook of a feminist saying “I need feminism because my orientation lecture at college told me how to ‘avoid getting raped’ instead of saying ‘do not rape!'”

    She is right. She needs feminism to hopefully get her to comprehend that from her end the power is in “avoiding the situations where things might get stupid!” The people who might rape are not going to listen to some stupid lecture… The people who want to avoid getting raped can take steps to avoid those idiots… Then we get into some really messy gray areas. Two people decide they want to enjoy each other’s company. They engage in all the appropriate signals to make sure each of them want to be there. Three days later one of them decides they didn’t want to be there and retroactively changes their mind… I am not completely behind the whole abstinence thing… But with policies like that in place, my advice to kids starts looking like abstinence… The people who want the species to continue moving forward surely don’t want procreation to completely halt do they?

    WTH am I doing here.. I think I wandered way of the topic… Except I don’t think I even got close to the edge.

    Graham’s number is real, but irrelevant except in the context of its creation. Solving the social problems of life are something between 12 and G64, which is two G63s with G63 Up Arrows between them or something similar… The number is not infinity, it isn’t even close. I can’t model it though.

    Pi is irrational. All hail Pi.

    If there is no sex, there is no next generation. That is beyond irrational..

  11. Ye Olde Statistician

    on the personal, collective and institutional levels

    Them folks sure do love their collectives.

  12. JH

    Brad, you are not stupid though.

  13. What the heck did I just read?

    Here’s an idea for an experiment: present a peer-reviewed study from a major university side-by-side with an essay written by an inmate of an insane asylum and see how many people can guess which is which.

  14. What was Oscar Wilde’s epigram? “Life imitating Art?”
    Here it’s “Scholarship imitating Parody.”

  15. JH: We can nuke Cornell during the usual school year. 🙂

  16. MHJ

    This reminds me of people who say that Einstein proved that everything is relative, therefore there are no truths. Or that quantum theory tells us that everything in uncertain, therefore there (ready for it?) are no truths.

    There probably always have been such idiots, and always will be. The problem comes when they get out of detention and take over whole institutions.

  17. Briggs


    No, I teach the course in Ithaca, NY, which has been called “The most enlightened city in America.”

    Listen for the sirens.

  18. Doug M

    Something about the language has me thinking:

    “A group homomorphism is a mapping between groups that respects inverses and multiplication.”

  19. Doug M

    Have I parsed this correctly?

    We use carbon fiber to make cool things. And cool things that look cool, too.

    And when guys get together we like to talk about cool stuff, and the people do things with cool stuff.

    We may even refer to some of these things as “sexy” even though there is no literal sex involved. And, this is largely men talking to other men about these sexy toys.

    Again there is no literal sex involved.

  20. JH

    Briggs, yes, you teach in Ithaca, but what program or department hire you? As Ken says, it will be costly, so I think it’d be smart to start small. Let’s start with the place that hires you… as my Grandpa liked to say, “Successful people start small and by making themselves an example.”

    I am pretty sure that my pacifist Grandpa would say “nuking universities from orbit is a sutpid idea.”

    I love enlightened cities such as Ithaca. I plan to retire in an enlightened city.

  21. I plan to retire as far from an enlightened area as possible.

  22. Steven Fraser

    They skipped right over Buckyballs…

  23. Andy

    Pi is sexist.


  24. Steven F: How sad. I think buckyballs are very interesting (and the name is only part of that!). Maybe someone will pick up on this and write a paper on it. The journal seems to have pretty liberal acceptance standards. 🙂

  25. Cf. Words of Power: A Feminist Reading of the History of Logic by Andrea Nye

    It is exactly what it sounds like.

  26. Andrew Smith

    By asking “Not desiring sodomy is misogynist?”, you show that you haven’t understood what our authoress is saying at this point. She is defining her use of the term “homosocial” to describe a relationship: it is between men and “misogynist” (this is the “homo” part), and is not based on avowed sexual desire (and so is “social” rather than “sexual”). Since this is one of the few intelligible things in what you quote from the poor lady’s work, I felt obliged to point this out.

  27. Andrew Smith: Can you translate the piece into English an 8th grader would understand? That might help, as her writing style is, to say the least, awkward.
    (I’m not disagreeing with your comment, I’m asking if you can interpret the piece so people would understand.)

  28. Shawn Marshall

    Are we certain she is not pulling our leg? Short leg? Surely, she jests.

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