The horror of feminism: amazon warriors -v- monstrous mothers in science-fiction cinema
This book is about problems inherent in the positive representation of female agency. In terms of the pschoanalytic construct of the cinematic relay, as soon as a pro-active woman takes control of cinematic space, the female spectator will be troubled by desires which do not 'sit well' with heterosexual femininity (as Mulvey put it in 1976). Popular 'pro-feminist' adventure genres of the 1980s and 1990s, with female protagonists as violent as their male counterparts, use all kinds of strategies to 'disarm' or disavow this lesbianising potential. Despite this, many of these films have become iconic to lesbian subcultures.
Looking at films such as the Alien cycle, Terminator II, Barbarella and Red Sonja, striking similarities in narrative coding are noticeable — despite the very different genres, styles and directors. Whilst some of these films try to evade the implicit homoeroticisation of the female 'hero' whilst others gleefully camp it up, all use similar strategies to 'manage' these implications within heterosexual parameters.
At much as lesbian desires 'haunt' these texts, it is nevertheless impossible to situate lesbian spectatorship in the classic cinematic 'relay' of the gaze used in popular film. 'The lesbian' cannot be satisfactorily situated exclusively within the category of 'the feminine' nor exclusively within a supposedly gender-neutral category of 'homosexuality' or 'queer'. Therefore, neither feminist nor queer critical models can adequately theorise lesbian spectatorship (or lesbian sub-cultural identity). A synthesisis needed.