Nielsen 2004 Werewolves

Title Information

Author: Bianca Nielsen

Title: Werewolves, Mothers and Femmes Fatales

Subtitle: Girl Power Movies

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of Canterbury

Year: 2004

Pages: iv + 259pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | U.S. History | Representations: Films / The Cell, Freeway, Wild Things; Victims: Revenge

Full Text

Link: University of Canterbury Research Repository (Free Access)

Additional Information


»This dissertation analyses a collection of contemporary girl power movies and places these texts within an historical generic context. In "Pleasures and Problems of the ‘Angry Girl,’" Kimberley Roberts defines the phenomenon of girl power as "a structure of beliefs and a set of consumer practices that centre on the individual teenage girl's power to effect change in her universe" (217-8). Roberts outlines that the "heroines of the girl power era of the 1990s are 'pissed off and ready to do something about it'" and that "they are fighters who combat the forces against them, unapologetically and often violently" (217). Since Roberts's analysis of girl power in Freeway, there has been little academic discussion on the phenomenon in Hollywood products. While the idea that "women's films" exhibit the potential for social criticism is not new, there is yet to be a substantial project that explores female characters and their "combat" with the "forces against them" in recently released film products. Roberts's definition of girl power can be applied to a series of films produced during the mid to late nineties and first few years of the new millennium. Many films produced during this timeframe depict strong female protagonists who fight the forces of patriarchal culture "unapologetically and often violently."
I carry out this research in order to foreground three key aspects to girl power movies. Firstly, most "women's films" reveal the fact that gender and sexuality are still often constructed in repressive binaries in media products. Secondly, the extent to which girl power movies demonstrate progressive potential is dependent on the degree to which they facilitate group spectatorship. Thirdly, girl power movies that contrast the corruption of an institutional (patriarchal) law with what I will call feminist justice imply that Hollywood films might provide a tenable arena for the expression of feminist group dynamics. Girl power movies that continue to depict communities of active and powerful female protagonists provide a space for the re-assessment of cultural assumptions about women and girls as consumers and subjects.« (Source: Thesis)


  Introduction (p. 1)
    Subjectivity, Spectatorship, Ideology (p. 5)
    Genre (p. 14)
    "The image of an angry woman" (p. 20)
    "The Teenpic" (p. 24)
    What is at stake then? (p. 28)
  Chapter 1
The Scream Movies: Gender, Sexuality, Authorship (p. 34)
    Violence and Gender (p. 49)
    Conclusion (p. 51)
  Chapter 2
Monstrous Deviance and Repressive Disciplines: Bodies, Sexuality and Girl Power in Horror "Teenpics" (p. 57)
    "They're just turning us into mindless slaves they can control!" (p. 61)
    "Sluts may not apply" (p. 68)
    "Somenthing's Wrong, Like More Than You Being Female" (p. 74)
    "If you want to exist you have to be pretty, you have to be thin - everybody else is wallpaper" (p. 93)
    Conclusion (p. 97)
  Chapter 3
The "Sexploitational" Pleasures of Noir: "Filles Fatales" in Wild Things and Cruel Intentions (p. 101)
    "Her Whole Fantasy is Him" (p. 104)
    "That girl could do just about anything she put her mind to" (p. 109)
    "Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer" (p. 112)
    "Everybody Does It, It's Just That Nobody Talks About It" (p. 118)
    Conclusion (p. 121)
  Chapter 4
"Violent Revenge&quit;: Gender and the Serial Killer Film (p. 123)
    "I sure wanna meet your mom, Bob" (p. 128)
    "I'm pissed off and the whole world owes me" (p. 133)
    "My World, My Rules" (p. 137)
    Conclusion (p. 142)
  Chapter 5
Women, Friendships, Knowledge and Power in Occult Films: The Craft, What Lies Beneath and The Gift (p. 144)
    "Ours is the Power" (p. 147)
    Sarah (p. 150)
    Nancy (p. 155)
    Bonnie and Rochelle (p. 158)
    Invoking the Spirit and Friendship (p. 159)
    "The soul of the town" (p. 161)
    "Annie's "Gift," Female Friendships and Institutional Knowledge (p. 164)
    "He was the perfect husband until his one mistake followed them home" (p. 169)
    Conclusion (p. 178)
  Chapter 6
Lesbian Sexuality in Girl Power Movies: Single White Female and Bound (p. 180)
    "You're the Only Friend I Need" (p. 183)
    "In a Different League" (p. 188)
    "Not Some Routine Noir Knock-Off with a Gal Gimmick" (p. 196)
    Conclusion (p. 202)
  Chapter 7
The Mother-Child-Relationship: The Others, Panic Room and The Deep End (p. 204)
    "She Expects Us to Believe Everything Written in the Bible" (p. 206)
    "Dad's Rich, Mom's Just Mad" (p. 215)
    "She's a Mother, Not a Moron" (p. 221)
    Conclusion (p. 227)
Girls and Group Spectatorship: Josie and the Pussycats and Legally Blonde (p. 230)
    "Friends First and a Band Second" (p. 233)
    "I'll Show You How Valuable Elle Woods Can Be" (p. 236)
    Conclusion (p. 239)
  Works Cited (p. 244)
  Works Consulted (p. 249)
  Filmography (p. 255)
  Appendix (p. 259)

Wikipedia: Rape and revenge film: The Cell, Freeway (1996 film), Wild Things

Added: January 24, 2015 – Last updated: January 24, 2015