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Dangerous Dames

Representing Female-Bodied Empowerment in Postfeminist Media


Heather Hundley, Roberta Chevrette and Hillary A. Jones

This book illuminates the rhetorical work performed by contemporary representations of a specific type of postfeminist hero who has garnered a lot of cultural capital: women who are smart, capable, physically agile and fit, and proficient with weaponry and technology. Employing critical/cultural and feminist approaches, Heather Hundley, Roberta Chevrette, and Hillary Jones engage with a range of theories including intersectionality, critical race theory, postmodernism, and posthumanism to examine a range of contemporary texts, including Kill Bill, Volumes I and II; The Hunger Games films; Wonder Woman; Atomic Blonde; Proud Mary; The Bionic Woman; Deus Ex; Dark Matter; and Caprica. Contributing to a robust existing conversation about postfeminist media as well as tracing how representation has changed in recent years, Hundley, Chevrette, and Jones contend that portrayals of dangerous dames offer limitations and opportunities for audiences. Specifically, should audiences read these characters as evidence of a postfeminist apocalypse, they may heed warnings of the limited interpretations offered. Yet as more women serve as role models and gain public attention, particularly regarding their assets and abilities, they provide important equipment for living for navigating around patriarchal constraints raised by postfeminism, neoliberalism, and humanism.

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In one way, this project began as an office conversation, and yet it extends Bad Girls: Cultural Politics and Media Representations of Transgressive Women. Therefore, we express our gratitude to its authors A. Susan Owen, Sarah R. Stein, and Leah R. Vande Berg. Their voices from the Mothership, articulating their care and concern for the future, have been heard loud and clear. Our aim was to augment their insightful brilliance.

Although these foremothers provided a model, our professors introduced us to a foundation of knowledge. Hailing from different academic programs enabled us to strengthen our argument, critique texts, and learn from each other. Therefore, we are grateful to the layers of educators, including our professors, colleagues, mentors, and students who ask questions, challenge us, and afford opportunities for thinking about our culture in a variety of ways.

We extend our thanks to the Peter Lang Cultural Media Studies series editors Leandra H. Hernández and Amanda R. Martinez. Their interest in how political, cultural, and media landscapes help shape our society coalesced with ours and created a home for our work. Furthermore, we appreciate the professionals at Peter Lang who were always supportive and responsive. They not only materialized our thoughts but marketed and distributed these ideas, allowing others access. We are also grateful to the Office of Research at Middle Tennessee State University for assisting with some production costs.

First and foremost, Heather Hundley wants all readers to know that the authors participated...

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