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Dangerous Dames

Representing Female-Bodied Empowerment in Postfeminist Media

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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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Chapter 6. Transcending Boundaries: Posthumanism and Transhumanism in Caprica and Deus Ex

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Unlike those discussed in Chapter 5, the women in this chapter actively choose transhuman augmentation. Transhumanism draws upon scientific and technological advances to improve humanity (Bostrom, 2005; Dvorsky, 2008; Fukuyama, 2002). These types of advances, including purposeful technological augmentation, appear routinely in science fiction across media (e.g., Gattaca, Limitless, Avatar, Helix, Stargate, Babylon 5, Westworld, Half-Life, Halo, BioShock). Thus, in this chapter, we consider how mechanical manipulations, both material and metaphorical, complicate the mind/body, us/them, and human/machine binaries for dangerous dames who actively choose augmentation in the television series Caprica and in the Deus Ex series of video games.

The figures featured in this chapter, like those in the previous one, all have undergone some form of purposeful modification. These women respond in a range of ways to their transhuman alterations, sometimes embracing their mechanical mods, sometimes coming to cope with them, sometimes resisting, and sometimes transcending the binaries altogether. At points, they fall victim to leaky hegemony, like Katniss (see Chapter 2) and the Bionic Women (see Chapter 5). At other points, they find creative ways to apply their technological enhancements in new ways, like Two and Android in Dark Matter (see ←133 | 134→Chapter 5). Throughout, they illuminate and challenge Enlightenment binaries that constrain women in postfeminist media. In both Caprica and Deus Ex, the characters’ mechanical modifications concretize the limits and promise of the cyborg and the cognisphere for feminisms. In other words, they can teach us about feminist politics, possibilities, and perimeters in posthumanity...

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