Performing Otherness for the Monstrous Gaze: Racial and Sexual Fantasies in the Allegoric Orgies of Venus Noir and Black Swan

In: Monstrous Reflection
Fjoralba Miraka
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The purpose of this chapter is to explore the politics of gender and race as well as the way in which female sexuality is treated in the films Venus Noir (2010) and Black Swan (2011). More specifically, I will examine the way(s) in which the processes of ‘othering’ and ‘monsterizing’ are exposed by these two filmic narratives. In both films, the female body constitutes an ideologically charged site, upon which the western tradition inscribes its sexual and racial beliefs; according to the western classificatory practices the female body is a monstrous other; it deviates from the Eurocentric male standard. On the one hand, Black Swan points to the extreme of the sexual(ised) Other and exposes the perverse nature of the dichotomy virgin/whore in line with which female sexuality can only find one specific expressive form – a monstrous form. I intend to explore whether the film deviates from older discourses to offer instead a radical approach towards the nature of female sexuality. On the other hand, Venus Noir pinpoints the gender- and race-oriented categorizations of the western world through a vivid visual representation of a supposedly deviant representative of the African female subject. My inquiry here is whether the filmic reproduction of such representation reinforces older racial and sexual discourses or disrupts and threatens to subvert them, offering a more dynamic perspective of the subject in question. In a final analysis, I want to explore whether these two cultural products can be taken as political weapons that make a statement about the progressive – or regressive – path of western cultural practices regarding the issue of female sexuality and its expression.

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