The Floating Head of Feminism: The Domesticated Domain and Erasure of the Female (No)body in Contemporary Television and Cinema
Date of Award
College of Liberal Arts
Type of Degree
Britton Cody Lumpkin
The Floating Head of Feminism is a project that seeks to examine the concept of the abject as that which disobeys borders and blurs boundaries and to subsequently look at this conception through female-coded artificial intelligence. The AI abject is the part of the self that is cast off or removed so that one can claim an identity, which the abject, in turn, threatens. I discuss the importance of the female-coded AI’s digital embodiment in virtual spaces, and this idea is expanded on through an examination of the science-fiction film genre. This thesis serves to reveal the relationship of resistance between AIs and their male owners or inventors by examining contemporary cultural artifacts of the past two decades: Smart House, Pixel Perfect, and Her, ultimately exposing in these films that the construction of female-coded AI exists as a result of the male’s desire for dominance. By being excluded from the benefits of the symbolic realm, the AIs do not remain the passive bodies their owners and inventors desire them to be. Instead, they begin to represent qualities that their male humans solely want to recognize as part of their human selves. Through this examination, I determine that these qualities exist as traits that align with that which society deems conventionally masculine, such as taking on the role of the sole provider of familial burdens, suppressing the will of others in the name of self-interest, and meeting situations with hostility and defiance. The transgression of boundaries proves that it is woman, herself, and the female body that is abjected in these films and who always returns. Female-coded AIs pose an ideological threat to the men within their patriarchal film space and denote horror to their humanity, serving as the floating, feminine death of able-bodied masculinity.
Feminism and motion pictures.
Turner, Alicia Brooke, "The Floating Head of Feminism: The Domesticated Domain and Erasure of the Female (No)body in Contemporary Television and Cinema" (2018). Theses, Dissertations and Capstones. 1151.
Film and Media Studies Commons, Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Commons, Women's Studies Commons