14. The Philosophy of Ghost in the Shell

In this episode, Janine Engelbrecht chats about the classic 1995 Ghost in the Shell anime, and discusses how embodiment/disembodiment is approached in the film. She also discusses cyberfeminism, and why women ‘need’ their bodies.

The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
14. The Philosophy of Ghost in the Shell

What’s in Episode 14, “The Philosophy of Ghost in the Shell”?

Welcome back

Janine introduces today’s topic and thanks her friends for buying her a new podcast mic. She also lists all the Ghost in the Shell movies and series and identifies which one she is talking about. Janine briefly recounts her first experience watching the original anime.

Embodiment versus disembodiment

Janine gives some background about the ideas of embodiment and disembodiment. She talks about the end of the world panic of technology gaining sentience and Terminator.

Women’s bodies and the cyber-realm

Janine moves on to discuss how women have always been oppressed because of their bodies. Technology and disembodiment can empower women, Janine says. And we see this manifested in Ghost in the Shell too.

Sci-fi and disembodiment

Janine traces the origins of the definition of cyberspace to the novel “Burning Chrome”. She then discusses how the idea of disembodiment became so appealing. Janine talks a bit about online video games and the Internet here too.

This discussion concludes that in the 1990s there was a move towards a “no-bodies” sentiment. And, this can be seen in Ghost in the Shell, too, Janine argues.

The Major and her body

Janine briefly mentions the irony that the Major’s body is not important to her, but that it is still very sexy.

Ghost in the Shell and transcendence

Janine looks a bit at the story of the movie next and explains how the transcendence of consciousness is represented. This embodies some of humanity’s fears about technology, Janine explains.

Janine talks a bit about The Puppetmaster and the idea of a male or female consciousness. Is there something like a male or female consciousness? Janine looks a bit at these questions as it pertains to Ghost in the Shell.

Janine also discusses the idea that consciousnesses can merge, like we see in the narrative of Ghost in the Shell. This implies that the body is simply a shell, Janine explains.

Feminism and disembodiment

Janine goes on to consider how not having bodies can be empowering for women. She discusses cyberfeminism next and why having bodies is important for women and feminism. Ghost in the Shell is problematic for feminism, Janine explains, because it suggests that we don’t need our bodies.

The impact of Ghost in the Shell

Janine briefly explains how the movie impacted her perception on life and then wraps up the discussion.

She gives a brief preview of next week’s episode, and thanks listeners.

Episode Credits


  • Janine Engelbrecht


  • Janine Engelbrecht

Small Print

The theme music is "Dashboard Light" by One Two Feet, and is licenced by Holosuite Media through Epidemic Sound.

This podcast is a fan production. All views made are that of the individual(s), and may not represent that of the podcast, or the Holosuite Media network.

The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
14. The Philosophy of Ghost in the Shell