Finals Week: 'Monstrous Feminism and the Avenging Amazon'

Monstrous Feminism and the Avenging Amazon By Paula Graham

On the whole, feminists and lesbians tend to treat the figure of the Amazon as a positive trope for lesbianism and/or feminism. On the one hand, she has the 'masculine' characteristics of strength, physicality and activity and, on the other, she is female-oriented. Her combination of male and female characteristics apparently undermines the exclusivity of gender categories. Her 'chastity' combined with her 'phallic' physicality has obvious lesbian implications. She is perceived by many lesbians and feminists as both 'positive' and 'subversive'...

Representations of the Amazon or female warrior in patriarchal culture, however, may acknowledge a perceived 'threat' of female aggression and seek to neutralise it. Narratives of female militancy tend to enjoy a resurgence in Western patriarchal cultures precisely at historical moments in which there has been an exceptional opening out of gender categories under pressure of social change and political contestation.
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