Delighted to share with you our interview with Katy Haber, author of 'Digital Flesh' in our Sending Nudes anthology. The anthology is an intimate collection of fiction, nonfiction and poetry that uncovers the various reasons (and ways) people send nudes. Release date is 15 January 2021.
Pre-orders are available here: gutspublishing.com/sending-nudes
Many thanks to Katy for this interview. xx
Tell us about ‘Digital Flesh’ - was it already written, or was it inspired by the Sending Nudes call for submissions?
I was living away from my love for a couple of months, and our interactions and intimacies were all mediated through mobile phone screens and webcams, yet the distance could still be felt. I had conflicting emotions, a pull to get closer to him, yet hitting a (cyber) wall when I realised his physical body was not there. The playfulness of sending nudes through whatsapp allowed me to explore my sexuality and identity more. Most people in the West see their phone as an extra limb, and the mystery and suspense of not knowing what that notification could be, is very sexual. It can be a powerful tool, especially for women. I saw the submission on Instagram, and thought, this could be an interesting way to put these thoughts into the world.
Your bio is interesting, in it you say: ‘Their real identity is manifested in the digital sphere. Their body is currently a full time student and activist, working in gender and queer culture studies.’ Can you tell us more about this identity and what inspired it?
I owe the beginning of this exploration of identity to all the feminists who envisioned a future away from the structures of a patriarchal capitalist system; Donna Haraway, Octavia Butler and Legacy Russell. As a non-binary person, I can see the language of identity progressing, and I want to play with this, see if there is a new way to form authentic identities away from power structures that define it. With the digital identity, I cannot be signalled as Woman, Man or Other, but signalled as being everything and nothing at all, just like cyberspace. My studies of metaphysics in a philosophy module really inspired this.
You seem to be heavily inspired by feminism and the cyber world. How does this translate into your writing?
The problem a lot of the 90s feminists ran into was theorising their ideas as utopian, and too fascinated with the rise of technology and the internet. I felt emotions and collectiveness were not as prominent. When I write poetry, or prose, I explore my digital identity and the reaction to what are traditionally seen as human things; emotions, eating, sleeping, longing, sex. It's an attempt at a digital redefinition of different parts of the physical body.
How do you feel about this progression in culture where sending nudes has become very normalised?
I am extremely aware of the issues surrounding sending nudes now. Only 80 years ago, you could only send a photograph of yourself to your lover (as many writers did), as an exploration of the sexual body. Sometimes, words just aren't enough. However now, with sexual assaulters exploiting young girls, or women of any age by soliciting a nude and sending it out to the world, sending nudes in how it is seen today cannot be quite yet normalised and cemented as ordinary practice. The change needs to come through education.
The taboo is still there, and that is why conversations in collectives need to happen. This anthology is perfect for it.
Who are your favourite authors and what are you currently reading?
Ursula Le Guin, Kathy Acker, Ann Carson and Octavia Butler. At the moment though, I am reading You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman, a Deleuzean feminist fiction that I am absolutely loving!
Describe yourself in 3 words.
0s, 1s and peachy-smelling.
* * *
Kat/y/Haber is a poet, writer and artist residing in London. Their real identity is manifested in the digital sphere. Their body is currently a full time student and activist, working in gender and queer culture studies. They hate TERFS, fascists and racists. For now, they philosophise, eat and sleep when not writing as a self-created AI.