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Gendering the Cannibal in the Postfeminist Era

Gender and Contemporary Horror in Film

ISBN: 978-1-78769-898-7, eISBN: 978-1-78769-897-0

Publication date: 13 March 2019

Abstract

In this chapter, I discuss the development of the cannibal picking up from Jennifer Brown’s (2013) study, Cannibalism in Literature and Film. Brown (2013, p. 7) argued that the cannibal is a sign of ultimate difference who ‘reappears in various guises at times when popular culture needs to express real fears and anxieties’. I argue that the most recent version of the cannibal is gendered female and that this coincides with a postfeminist media culture. I explore how the cannibal is positioned as an ambiguous figure which questions both humanity and monstrosity. I argue that this is complicated by gendering it female as women have traditionally straddled the line between human and less-than human in popular culture. I discuss three films: 301/302 (Park, 1995), The Woman (Torino, Van Den Houten, & McKee, 2011) and Raw (De Forêts & Ducournau, 2016) and explore how they use incest, objectification and dehumanization as well as cannibalism to explore the ambiguities of postfeminist subjecthood. I will argue that by performing acts of cannibalism the female cannibals in these films reclaim their subjectivity both by objectifying others and by identifying with their victims. The cannibalism also presents the opportunity for female-oriented families through shared consumption which ironically embraces patriarchal ideals of feminine feeding roles and challenges the patriarchal basis of the family.

Keywords

Citation

Flockhart, L. (2019), "Gendering the Cannibal in the Postfeminist Era", Holland, S., Shail, R. and Gerrard, S. (Ed.) Gender and Contemporary Horror in Film (Emerald Studies in Popular Culture and Gender), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 67-81. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78769-897-020191006

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Louise Flockhart