Terrors of Girlhood: Ideological Representations of the Adolescent Female in

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Abstract

Since the birth of the genre, American horror filmmakers have posed female characters as prey and objects of sexual desire. Adolescent women in particular act as both the victim and as eye candy for viewers. From the damsel in distress to the rape victim seeking revenge, women in horror films exist to be antagonized, and so often, their exhibition of femininity and sexuality determines the severity of their suffering. Moreover, though the popular horror film narrative tends to explore the fringes of human nature, few horror films openly deal with the fears and concerns of women outside of threats to their physical being.

In the past decade, the horror genre has produced a new crop of young female characters who challenge the tropes of traditional horror films by trading in their role of damsel in distress for the role of the antagonist and anti-hero. What’s more, these films deal with themes relevant to young women, such as body image issues, tumultuous relationships, and sexual repression. In this thesis, I analyze the popular American horror film Jennifer’s Body (2009), which features two violent female protagonists and explores the horrors of adolescent female friendships. In my analysis, I examine whether or not the re-imagined female characters in this film are a progressive reconstruction of gender, and identify ideological conventions of the horror genre that continue to denigrate femininity and female sexuality.

Publication Date

2013

Publisher

Digital Initiatives Press: Rhode Island College

City

Providence

Keywords

film; horror; gender studies; adolescent women; American horror; anti-hero; Jennifer's Body; violence; female sexuality;

Disciplines

Film and Media Studies | Gender and Sexuality

Terrors of Girlhood: Ideological Representations of the Adolescent Female in

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