This article provides a reading of gender politics in cyberpunk, drawing upon the Gothic, the cyborg and the (post)feminist subject. This reading is effected through an account of the ass-kicking techno-babe, a crucial component of the masculine strand of cyberpunk which valorises a masculinity and technology dialectic and draws upon film noir, with its hardboiled detectives and monstrous femmes fatales. From Molly Million‘s in Neuromancer to Y.T. in Neal Stephenson‘s Snow Crash (1992) and Trinity in Andy and Larry Wachowski‘s Matrix trilogy (1999–2003), this figure of the femme fatale demonstrates that the (post)feminist project of the ass-kicking techno-babe has found a home in the Gothic aesthetics of the noir-inf(l)ected genre of cyberpunk. The account of how hyper-sexualised cyborgic female bodies are positioned in contrast with the repressed bodies of male hackers reveals the destabilising conundrum of supposed agency contained by the determinacy of the (post)feminist body.
This chapter considers the progress/progressiveness of the representation and construction of feminism within television, and examines the discourses that have informed and shaped feminist television criticism. It uses the debates produced around the first three seasons of Ally McBeal as a starting point to explore the complexities of the relationship between the ‘feminine’, feminism, post feminism and postmodern feminism, in both the academic and the public spheres. In the process it maps out the differences and similarities between a ‘resistant feminine aesthetic’, the formal strategies associated with postmodern feminism in the 1990s and a more general ‘postmodern aesthetic’. It argues that because all of these are defined in opposition to a monolithic notion of ‘realism’ and in relation to one another, a collapse can occur in which ‘the feminine’, as both a subject position and an aesthetic, becomes characterised as ‘inherently’ resistant and subversive. Finally, it emphasizes how and why a confusion of these terms might have emerged and allowed for an appropriation, depoliticisation and trivialisation of the feminist debate.
women’s role in Scottish society and in providing the energy with which
to carry campaigns on. Many women’s liberation activists worked in
areas where feminism informed their work, further illustrating that, far
from declining, the ideas of women’s liberation have diffused. Narratives
which focus on notions of post-feminism in the 1980s and beyond tend
to overlook the important work which has continued since the 1970s.
Women like Aileen Christianson, Fran Wasoff and Esther Breitenbach
have followed academic careers, continuing to write and teach about
women and gender
to Stay and The Mandarins, probably the best known of her novels. I came
to read her work more closely during a summer of the late 1990s. At that
time, debates about the relationship between feminism and postmodernism
were in full flight, with postmodern theory calling into question many of
the foundations on which feminist knowledge, agency and political praxis
were built. During the same period the notion of post-feminism also undermined feminist thinking by suggesting that the need for sustained feminist
thought and action was over. Popular feminist books of
Women, domesticity and the female Gothic adaptation on television
York : Routledge .
Morley , D. ( 1992 ), Television Audiences and Cultural Studies, London : Routledge .
Moseley , R. ( 2002 ), ‘ Glamorous witchcraft: gender and magic in teen film and television ’, Screen 43 : 4 , 403–422 .
Moseley , R. , and J. Read ( 2002 ), ‘ “Having it Ally”: popular television (post-)feminism ’, Feminist Media Studies 2 : 2 , 231–249 .
Nelson , R. ( 2001 ), ‘ Costume Drama ’, in G. Creeber (ed.), The Television Genre Book , London : BFI .
Pidduck , J. ( 1998 ), ‘ Of windows and country walks: frames
this history. Although his characters seem moved by
authentic feminist urges (autonomy, recognition, sexual enfranchisement), their actions and attitudes belong far more to what is usually
called post-feminism, although the term itself is far from uncontested
(Gill, 2007: 147–8). Were one to seek to summarise the meaning of
4 By noting Ellen’s ageing appearance, Legba also holds up an unflattering mirror to himself as a young man involved with an older woman, rather than a
simply glamorous one. This process of mutual mirroring underscores the way
that both the young
gendered body, gendered form and feminist politics as more slippery, difficult and challenging concepts. These transitions are important to any understanding of the second wave of feminism and the place of Lessing’s writing in that narrative is central. What is more difficult, perhaps, is to assess the relation between Lessing’s work and what has variously been described as third wave or post-feminism. As was suggested in chapter 1 , this is a difficulty partly occasioned by Lessing’s own increasingly articulate distancing of herself from feminism and partly by the
Edward’s spooky watching of Bella while she sleeps
takes on a different cast through that maternal schema. We would
hesitate to imply that a maternal posture is invariably benevolent:
feminisms (plural) have long recognised the mother–daughter
relationship as a fraught one, and not necessarily one of mutual
respect; even second-wave feminism’s relationship to
post/feminism, after all, has typically been
, they can repel the senses, they oﬀer little hope. So why read Escalle?
Is she just part of the ephemeral literary phenomenon that is the ‘new barbarism’ of post-feminism? Or is there a point in reading her which takes us
beyond voyeurism and beyond the satisfaction of reading and living in the
security of a world that is safer and more comfortable than the hellish
limbos of Escalle’s imagination? What, if anything, in her work makes her
worth reading and rereading – and rereading again? What do her novels do
that they both demand and merit sustained attention? The
’ posthumous lives
The discussion of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre and its reception shows
that the relevance of Brontë’s novel today seems to lie in its propensity
to accommodate discussions about both gender and self-expression. It
disentangles Jane Eyre from the romantic relationship as a prime site
for self-definition even as it embraces the entrepreneurial ‘have-it-all’ of
post-feminism. Nonetheless, and in contrast to prototypical expressions
of the latter, the romantic relationship here is just one among many. This
said, YouTube offers viewers the chance to