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Banwell, S. (2018). The ‘feminine-as-monstrous’: using the whore narrative to unpack representations of militarised femininity gone awry

Banwell, S. (2018). The ‘feminine-as-monstrous’: using the whore narrative to unpack representations of militarised femininity gone awry

Banwell, Stacy ORCID: 0000-0001-7395-2617 (2018) Banwell, S. (2018). The ‘feminine-as-monstrous’: using the whore narrative to unpack representations of militarised femininity gone awry. In: Progressive Connexions Evil Women: Women and Evil interdisciplinary conference, Vienna., 01 - 02 Dec 2018, Vienna, Austria. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The militarized woman is sexy, but not sexual or perverse. She is tough, but not violent. ‘She can fight...but cannot inflict torture...The new militarized femininity expects a woman soldier to be as capable as a male soldier, but as vulnerable as a civilian woman (Sjoberg, 2007:93). Drawing on cases of women’s involvement in military and quasi-military organizations - both in ‘real-life’ and in fictionalized accounts - this paper unpacks the use of the whore narrative to explain female sexual violence. I will explore this along two pathways. Firstly, we will examine the real-life involvement of Lynndie England, Sabrina Harman and Megan Ambuhl in the sexual abuse, rape and torture of male prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Secondly, I will discuss the film Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS and its setting in a Nazi Medical Camp. The eponymous antagonist is a blonde, blue-eyed Aryan Nazi dominatrix. She is a female villain – or, in a somewhat crude and literal framing, a feminazi – who sadistically castrates men.

In both examples, we are presented with images of a tortured and feminized male body. This challenges the familiar male victimizer/female victim model. In order to preserve the dichotomous construction of masculinity versus femininity, the powerful female body has to be presented in undesirable ways (Banwell and Fiddler, 2017). This is done through dehumanization: the ‘feminine-as-monstrous.’ It is also achieved through sexualization. According to the whore narrative, female violence is a result of the following: an insatiable need for sex with men; men’s control and ownership of women’s bodies; and, women’s inability to have sex with men (Sjoberg and Gentry, 2008).

In this piece I argue that this narrative at once vilifies and demonises violent women, while denying their agency and diminishing the threat they pose (both real and reel). This reproduces heteropatriarchal control.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: evil, women
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Law & Criminology (LAC)
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2019 14:55
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/25545

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