Weaponized care is not a monolith, and we must be attentive to how it can be wielded in different directions and for different purposes. Most insidiously, it seizes upon how care is necessary and essential for our social lives. But it can be weaponized in a different way: As Audre Lorde wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Here Lorde rejects gendered ideas of care and posits a different approach to its weaponization: not as a way to sell harmful surveillance technology but to protect herself from overextension and despair in the face of disease and the stigmas attached to several overlapping marginalized identities. Realizing and recognizing that care can be used as a weapon against the interests of our communities, our loved ones, and even ourselves is a step toward respecting this powerful construct.
Autumm Caines discusses the way in which survelliance technology is often packaged with notions of care. This often comes in two flavours, the virtuous “caring about” used to promote remote proctoring systems, or the relational “caring for” used by products like ClassDojo to promote “bringing families into the classroom.” Across the board, this weaponization of care is used to normalise various practices.