LESBIAN MOTHERS, TWO-HEADED MONSTERS AND THE TELEVISUAL MACHINE
Pp. 56-81 (26)
This chapter brings Braidotti’s (1994) discussion of mothers, monsters and
machines together with Halberstam’s (1995) discussion of the gothic monster in the slasher
film genre to rethink representations of the lesbian mother in popular culture. It positions
the lesbian maternal body within a broad set of discourses that conjoin the figure of the
mother with the figure of the monster. The discussion begins with Tina Kennard’s
expectant maternal body in Season Two of the television serial The L Word, highlighting
the contradictions her ‘monstrous’ lesbian maternal body calls up for queer viewers. Her
pregnant body, which is highly sexualized throughout Season Two, challenges the norms of
motherhood and disrupts mainstream images of the fetishized lesbian subject. At the same
time, however, her experiences of becoming a mother uphold many of the traditional values
of domesticity and reproduction and unashamedly construct the lesbian mother as part of an
elite, urban, cosmopolitan set. Braidotti’s nomadic reading of mothers, monsters and
machines troubles viewers’ desires to read Tina’s body as entirely normative or necessarily
transgressive. This critical framework opens up a place to ask how her pregnant body
refuses teleological linkages and relinquishes fixed sexed/gendered identities in favour of
contradictions and flux. Halberstam’s framework for understanding the gothic monster
extends our reading of Tina’s body, pressing viewers to consider the ways in which some
textual representations ‘splatter’ gender/sex binaries and refuse to recuperate what is in
excess or lost in the act of ‘splattering.’ Katrina Schlunke provides a response to this chapter.
Lesbian mother, monster, The L Word, pregnancy, cosmopolitan, Braidotti,
gothic, machines, televisual, motherhood, nomadic.
The University of Sydney.