JF Ptak Science Books Post 1034
No doubt that minds were sent reeling by Fritz Lang’s vision of the near-future (the year 2000) in his 1927 science fiction classic, Metropolis. Life and work were one for the vast mass of humans, the drudgery of a cog-like existence in a vast underground machinery set to run a lifeless topside mother-of-all-cities was pressed and punched into the hearts and minds of the viewers.
The creation of a female robot in this movie is one of the earliest that I know of, surprising as there were male robot-like creations going back fairly deeply into the 19th century. Perhaps the creation of female robots was verbotten because of the possibilities for unacceptable sexual fantasies in the high- and post-Victorian world, struggling under the weight of many and multiply-applied inhibitions.
Or perhaps it came too close to some part of the truth of women as captives of their society, with unequal protection of the law, scant political representation, belligerent educational policies, and subjugated sexual vessels, a comparative cog in the male machinery pushing the world around. The disposable nature of the woman worker had already been manifestly and callously displayed in tens of thousands of instances. In cases like the Triangle Waistcoat Factory disaster–in which women were treated no better than their machines, costing the lives of hundreds in a devastating fire–or in the replacement of Rosie the Riveter (as soon as the job-hunting soldiers returned from WWII), and on and on towards the horizon, it has been demonstrated to generations of women that they are inferior bits of apparatus.
The first use of the word “robot” occurred in the science fiction novel/play R.U.R (by Karel Capek) just seven years earlier than Lang’s film; perhaps this in combination with the Expressionist and semi-decadent Berlin Weimar culture and overall indulgences of the 1920's helped create the possibility of the Eden-less woman-as-robot. Granted the robot's name wasn't "Eve", though it does have the name of the Christian mother of mothers, the seat of early hyper worship, and more popular than Jesus' name for centuries: "Maria".