Grotesque Femininities

9781848880382Grotesque Femininities

Evil, Women and the Feminine


edited by
Maria Barrett


ISBN: 978-1-84888-038-2



317 pages


Grotesque Femininities focuses on the representations of evil excess that women and the feminine are constructed as embodying within modern cultures. Within that evil female excess, is a politics of women’s otherness that embraces a duality of the uncanny and the carnivalesque as emblems of disturbing disorders.  

The book is organised thematically under the headings, femininity and mythology, abusive women, reversing the gaze, and crossing boundaries. It comprises a series of contributions that demonstrate the contradictions and ambivalence of the feminine. South Africa, Britain, America and Australia all feature as context within which evil women make their appearances.  Within these contexts, werewolves, devils, obese black mermaids, female paedophiles, a wicked mother, a vaginally-toothed girl, a lesbian/redneck killer, some promiscuous women and a pregnant man all demonstrate that the feminine instills a globalised fear that crosses cultural and national boundaries. In particular,  the volume’s essays offer an exciting and exceptional analysis of the ways that cultures both adore and abhor the feminine as belonging to evil women.

Grotesque Feminities will be of interest to media scholars, popular culture, criminologists, women’s studies, literature, social and cultural historians.  It is a collection that offers a wealth of knowledge about the perceived truths that surround evil women in different contexts.


Maria Barrett

PART I   Femininity and Mythology

Beware the Full Moon: Female Werewolves and That Time of the Month
Jazmina Cininas

Woman Liberated by the Devil in Four Gothic Novels: William Beckford’s Vathek (1786), Matthew Lewis’ The Monk (1796), Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya or The Moor (1806) and Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) 
Per Faxneld

The Balloon Woman: Reinventing Mermaid Myths in Contemporary South Africa
Linda Monstert

PART II  Abusive Women

Mummy Wouldn’t do That: The Perception and Construction of the Female Child Sex Abuser
Helen Gavin

Women as Molester: Implications for Society
Theresa Porter

Karen Matthews the Heart-Broken Mother-come-Cold Hearted Witch: News Discourses of Evil
Maria Barrett

PART III Reversing the Gaze

The Vagina Dentata in Contemporary American Visual Culture 
Sarah Glover

Lesbian and Redneck Predators: A Queer Conflation in High Tension 
Jan Peterson Roddy

PART IV  Crossing Boundaries

Demonising the Good-Time Girls: Female Sexuality as Moral Panic in Wartime Australia 
Ann-Marie Cook

When He is a She is a He: The Pregnant Man and the Transgendered Mother 
Vivienne Muller

About the Editor

Maria Barrett PhD is an associate lecturer in the Department of Arts, Media and English, London South Bank University, UK. She has varied interests in gender relations, online identities, criminology and social research methods as well as the relationship between celebrity and medical humanities.