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Women Willing to Fight

The Fighting Woman in Film

Editor(s): Silke Andris and Ursula Frederick

Book Description

Women Willing to Fight is a collection of essays that explores the presence of the fighting woman in contemporary Hollywood cinema. Drawn from a variety of genres, the authors examine the changing role, image and position of this figure in film over recent decades. The increasing dominance of this character and her repositioning as a protagonist reinvigorates discussion concerning the dynamics of film narrative and spectacle.

Each contribution takes as its focus a central character from the Hollywood blockbuster era, examining in detail the motivations and implications of the fighting female. In doing so the collection raises significant questions about the place of the fighting woman in contemporary media and the relationships she forges on and off-screen.
With a strong appreciation of the mixed messages inherent in images of fighting women, Women Willing to Fight seeks to draw attention to the embodied forms - physical, intellectual and emotional - through which female fighters are represented. The anthology places particular emphasis on the emergence of the physically empowered woman, a character for whom the body has become a weapon and a target. While early cinematic representations allowed women to voice their fury and frustration, today’s female fighters not only ‘speak up’ but ‘muscle up’.

Putting aside the supernatural powers of many action heroines, this volume focuses on the kinds of fighting skills, abilities and desires that are engendered in characterisations of mortal women. To this end the volume implicitly addresses complex and cross-cultural notions of ‘extra-ordinary’ power. By examining the embodied arsenal that these characters possess and develop - through training, conditioning, and life experience - it considers the representation of motivation and metamorphoses into ‘the fighting woman’: how a woman fights holds implicit meaning and inevitably urges us to consider why and what she is fighting for.


ISBN-13: 978-1-8471-8142-8
ISBN-10: 1-84718-142-2
Date of Publication: 01/04/2007
Pages / Size: 217 / A5
Price: £34.99


Ursula Frederick is an archaeologist, photographer and scholar of visual and material cultures. Her research and publications to date have explored the ways in which past and contemporary visual media mediate cross-cultural engagement and information exchange. She is currently based at the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

Silke Andris is a filmmaker and anthropologist. She is a lecturer in Anthropology and European Ethnography at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich.