Edited by David Farnell, Rute Noiva and Kristen Smith
Edited by Andrea Ruthven and Gabriela Mádlo
Liudmila V. Charipova
beliefs, Muscovite Russian and, I would argue, Ukrainian ideas of magic and witchcraft were prosaic (in the Bakhtian sense), ad hoc and changeable in nature. 6 Literate East Slavic culture shows signs of a mild obsession with the “evil” women who ruined mighty men, who may or may not have been their
Edited by Hannah Priest
Lada Čale Feldman
The chapter will explore the destiny of two exemplary myths of the evil woman, Salome and Lulu, in four plays by the three most prominent Croatian modernist playwrights, Ivo Vojnović’s Dame with Sunflower (1911), Milan Begović’s Adventurer at the Gate (1925), as well as Miroslav Krleža’s Salome (1918) and Honourable Glembays (1929). My aim is to demonstrate that the fin-de-siècle heritage of criminal and duplicitous femme fatale re-appears on the Croatian modernist stage only to be endowed with renewed anxieties induced by the turbulent political and poetical atmosphere preceding and following World War I (WWI). While combining narrations of memories, visions and/or dreams, descriptions of paintings, and cinematographic techniques or topoi, the three Croatian playwrights show the evil woman to be an enigma that insistently demands yet eludes representation, defying the hold of the interplay of narrative voices, dramatic utterances, inter-textual doublings, imagistic projections and spectator positions. The selected plays thus question the role and limits of different genres, procedures and media in shaping or channelling what was then promoted as one of the privileged interests of psychoanalysis, the ‘disturbances’ of female desire. However, whereas Vojnović and Krleža conceived of female sexuality as of an indomitable, destructive force epitomizing a looming catastrophic social and cultural dissolution, Begović exalted desire as the very site of female access to (tragic) subjectivity. Being undoubtedly a reaction to the threat of female emancipation, evil women on the Croatian modernist stage figured as the crux of poetic debates, which were stirred by various concurrent challenges: decline of high culture, the advent of ‘trivial’ media such as cinema, and the need for theatre practice to search for new forms which would adequately respond to the semiotic malaise brought by sudden changes in social and political constellations.
Theresa Porter and Jacquelyn Bent
Western culture has seen a growth in post-genderism since the 1960’s, with both sexes refusing to be reduced to socially constructed gender roles. Many people choose to be defined by their humanity, rather than their masculinity or femininity. This is not a universal decision, however and both sexes may adhere to gender roles to varying degrees. While psychological research has investigated the extreme end of masculinity (Hypermasculinity) for many years, research into women on the extreme end of femininity is relatively new. A subset of women assimilates gender roles as primary to their identities. Research on this population of women, defined as Hyperfeminine, indicates that they base their concept of personal success on their ability to obtain and maintain a heterosexual relationship, utilizing their sexuality and manipulation as the key tools to achieve this goal. While Hyperfemininity is not generally considered problematic, recent research has found a striking association between Hyperfemininity and sexually coercive behaviour. Hyperfeminine women were more likely to use coercive sexual tactics with their adult male partners than women who did not subscribe to exaggerated gender roles. This chapter will examine this recent research on Hyperfemininity, its relationship to adversarial relational styles, rape myth acceptance and sexual compulsivity. Finally, it will explore the difficulty a gendered society has in seeing gendered behaviour, even when looking at it.
In 1989, Sara Thornton killed her abusive husband with a knife, after years of abuse and threats to her daughter. She was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Also in 1989, Kiranjit Ahluwalia soaked her husband’s bedclothes with petrol and set them alight. He died from burns 10 days later, and she was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. In 1991, Joseph McGrail kicked his alcoholic common-law wife to death whilst she lay unconscious. He walked free from court, the judge telling him that ‘this lady would have tried the patience of a saint’. In 1992, Les Humes told a court that he ‘saw a red mist’ after his wife admitted loving someone else. He fatally stabbed her whilst their teenage children struggled with him. He was convicted of manslaughter due to provocation and was imprisoned for 7 years. Double standards in judicial processes are notorious. Chivalric justice is the case in which women are given lighter sentences for similar offences to men. This does not apply in the case of domestic homicide, where women are seen as evil and calculating when killing a spouse, men are seen as provoked beyond reason. Women who kill husbands do so with weapons that they need to acquire, men do it with their hands or weapons that are immediately available. So it is seems the defence of crime passionnel is reserved for men; women, it is implied, premeditate the murder of abusive husbands and are justifiably punished. This chapter explores the double standard in uxoricide vs. mariticide, and why it appears that killing a wife is justified and killing a husband is evil.
This chapter looks at the construction of Pola Negri’s persona by discussing her films, as well as her off-screen antics. Negri’s figure was emblematic of a representation of an exotic and threatening foreign woman, the association which inevitably incapacitated her career in the American movie industry. Firstly, I position the iconography of the vamp in the cultural context of the era. The figure of a pagan, earthy female sexuality has been popularised at the end of the nineteenth century by symbolist painters and consequently re-invented in the America of the 1920’s to mobilise fears surrounding women’s growing independence and reflect concerns linked to the new wave of immigration. I will analyse the ways in which Negri’s movies re-enacted those anxieties through their gender portrayal. The femme fatale crosses the boundaries of patriarchal norms, class and ethnicity, and produces a threat. In films such as Spanish Dancer Negri not only personifieeda threat to status quo, questioning rigid limitations of sexuality but above all represented an ethnic hazard. Her exotic otherness threatens to undermine the existing cultural order, making Negri a unique symbol of the possibility of foreign invasion. From the outset of the star’s relationship with media, the journalists insisted on seeing her mainly through the prism of her European otherness. Some went as far as to deliberately misspell her quotes in interviews to convey the idea of Negri’s English being far from fluent. By the late twenties the representational scheme Negri was widely associated with fell out of fashion, marking a turning point in her career. The fact she could not escape the role of a vamp (nor dismiss the threatening characteristics of the figure) contributed to her demise as an artist.
Margarita Carretero-González and Mª Elena Rodríguez-Martín
Female independence has traditionally been perceived as a menace for the order established by patriarchal society. Even in our days, a woman who decides not to adapt herself to the traditional roles established for her - freely rejecting, for instance, marriage or maternity - is seen in some quarters as a weird specimen going against what nature has intended for her. In popular representations of the collective imagination, this female independence often takes the form of wicked, evil women who sometimes are the worst enemies to their own gender. The aim of this chapter is to have a look at the ways these female stereotypes have been portrayed in literature and films. Cinderella’s stepmother or the Marquise of Merteuil in Stephen Frears’ adaptation of Laclos’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, are some of a multitude of instances found in discourses taken from different media portraying women abused for refusing to yield submissively to the image of virtue dictated by the established social order.
In nineteenth century literature, female evil and concomitant understandings of female monstrosity and female lunacy are often aligned to the unleashing of sexual desire, an unleashing that is often in stark contrast to the sexual and moral probity of more central female protagonists. In terms of literary representations, Naturalism marks a turn from such metaphysical assumptions of character on which the moral aesthetics of the novel were grounded to a concern with explicating character through emerging and newly valorised scientific discourses. Consequently, European Naturalism produces representations of women, especially representations of the female body, which go beyond the moral and aesthetic parameters of the nineteenth century novel. This chapter offers a comparative study of female evil by focusing on two representations in Naturalist literature: Emile Zola’s Nana and Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. The aim of the chapter is to explore the complex configurations of female evil Naturalism produces in relation to the body and female agency at a critical moment both for the development of literature and for broader understandings of sexuality in the light of new emerging discourses of science. The chapter examines the degree to which both the novel and play transform, challenge or reinscribe dominant sexual ideologies through such new configurations. However, the chapter also explores how Nana and Hedda Gabler, whose actions are provocatively recognisable as representative of evil in traditional moral discourses, can be read as seeking, if in perverse ways, the agency which patriarchy denies. In many respects, these very different representations of evil women foreground not the fixed aberrancy of women, but the ideological construction of morality that these ‘evil’ women supposedly transgress.