Tanks, Guitars, and Wands: Feminine Subjectivity and Phallic Cultural Spaces in Three Contemporary Texts
Senior Honors Project
Applying postmodern theory to three contemporary texts, Rachel Talay’s 1995 film Tank Girl, Patti Smith’s 1975 Horses album, and Hermione Granger’s character in the Harry Potter series, I argue that marginally feminist, or seemingly non-feminist texts can do feminist work when postmodern theories are applied.
Through Tank Girl’s reversal of the male gaze, her co-optation of Water and Power’s tank, and mockery of traditional forms of overly-aggressive masculinity, Tank Girl is a critique of phallic power spaces and the social power we assign to them.
On her album, Horses, Smith occupies the theoretical space of the archetypal male rock performer and in doing so breaks the archetype: as a women inhabiting male rock space successfully, Smith deconstructs the cultural notion of rock performers as only male. In representing various femininities through her musical performance, Smith opens up space for women’s subjecthood in rock outside the virgin/whore dichotomy that permeated the rock scene of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.
In part three I examine the Golden Trio (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) using Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s theory of the “erotic triangle” as a basis for examining the interactions between the friends. I argue Rowling constructs Hermione as a subversive character who challenges traditional gender stereotypes. Like Smith, Hermione’s occupation of multiple, non-traditional feminine subject positions allows for readers to identify with a broader collection of subjectivities.
Armstrong, Rachel, "Tanks, Guitars, and Wands: Feminine Subjectivity and Phallic Cultural Spaces in Three Contemporary Texts" (2012). Antonian Scholars Honors Program. 69.