LESBIAN MOTHERS, TWO-HEADED MONSTERS AND THE TELEVISUAL MACHINE | BenthamScience

Queer and Subjugated Knowledge

Queer and Subjugated Knowledge

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Queer and Subjugated Knowledges: Generating Subversive Imaginaries makes an invaluable contribution to gender and sexuality studies, engaging with queer theory to reconceptualize everyday ...
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LESBIAN MOTHERS, TWO-HEADED MONSTERS AND THE TELEVISUAL MACHINE

Pp. 56-81 (26)

Kellie Burns

Abstract

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.

Keywords:

Lesbian mother, monster, The L Word, pregnancy, cosmopolitan, Braidotti, gothic, machines, televisual, motherhood, nomadic.

Affiliation:

The University of Sydney.