Gender, genre and representation: "Musculinity" and the body in the female boxing film

Hepworth, Ian A (2008) Gender, genre and representation: "Musculinity" and the body in the female boxing film. Masters thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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The aim of this thesis is to investigate the representation of female protagonists within the hyper-masculine genre of the boxing film. Recently, films featuring female boxers have formed a notable sub-genre within the action film, most explicitly highlighted by the Oscar success of Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood, 2004). The study of the female boxing film would seem to problematise the culturally prominent binary understanding of sex and gender (male vs. female, masculine vs. feminine), and thus provides the theoretical starting point for my research. Gender and sexuality in the action cinema is a topic of investigation central to my research, as is Tasker's (1993) concept of 'musculinity'. This area ofTasker's work is inextricably linked to the research areas of my study, as concepts of 'musculinity' are apparent in the action heroines' challenge to the binary definitions of gender. The 'butch', androgynous or masculinised female body also carries lesbian connotations, which will also be investigated in relation to the female boxer and the action heroine. The key points of the argument of this thesis are: that the female boxer is the contemporary embodiment of the 1980s action heroine and that, as such, she conforms to many of the same stereotyped perceptions and prejudices; and also that the female boxer and action heroine can combine elements from both binary opposites of sex or gender concurrently and, therefore, blur the boundaries between the two, problematising the way that we as a culture define gender. Other key aspects of the central argument focus upon: the importance of race and ethnicity to the portrayal and perception of the female boxer and action heroine; the fluidity of heterosexual desire in relation to femininity and attractiveness in contrast to the restrictions ascribed by hetero-patriarchy; and the significance of the 'butch' stereotype in relation to the body, sexuality and the 'strong' female character in sport and film.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: A print copy of this thesis is available for reference use only.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Representation of female boxers; Action film; Action heroines; Masculinised female body; Gender; Sexuality
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Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creatives
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2022 13:36
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2023 20:32

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