A perhaps unlikely but, nonetheless, fascinating place to start this blog’s look at queer popular culture is with the two books shown above. Megan Abbott’s 2012 novel Dare Me and Abigail Haas’ 2013 Dangerous Girls are both outstanding works which deserve to be examined under the scope of queer representation and perhaps have not been considered as thoroughly as they could be. For the sake of brevity and to make this easier to read, this analysis will be broken down into smaller parts.
Part 1: Dare Me.
A fair warning, this discussion will be including MAJOR SPOILERS for both books.
Continue reading It Was Always You – The Acknowledgment of Queerness in Megan Abbott’s Dare Me and Abigail Haas’ Dangerous Girls. (Part 1)
The queer nature of relationships between women as long been an elusive and difficult subject to define. and In her 1995 essay on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film Rebecca, Rhona J. Berenstein spoke of the apparent queerness of the film’s female characters, stating that “Queerness is, like the first Mrs. de Winter, allowed to circulate through Rebecca, but not permitted to declare itself” (Out in Culture: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Essays on Popular Culture, p. 257) in a statement that reflected the sub textual nature of the film’s queer elements, as well as the supernatural element of Rebecca de Winter’s ghost haunting Manderly and it’s occupants. Whilst concerning a film made over half a century ago, Berenstein’s words seem to carry a somewhat eerie resonance to queerness in modern popular culture. The sense that there is a connection between two women, but there is a fear of drawing attention to what that might be.
When it comes to queerness between women, it seems all to often to be relegated to the realms of ‘just good friends’. You only have to look towards the recent (and now infamous) use of terms like ‘gal pal’ in online articles to see just how media views women in close relationships (although arguably the best phrase in that article is ‘dress-alike twinsies’ no?) . As such, sites like as Autostraddle, a site orientated towards queer women, have even co-opted the phrase themselves to sell t-shirts and merchandise as a form of reclaiming the phrase.
It’s a funny thing then to be a consumer of popular culture when being surrounded by this rhetoric, even when one identifies as queer themselves. We often look for representation where there may be none at all. This can often mean embracing close relationships between same-sex couplings onscreen or in books and making that connection ourselves, even if the work itself does not. An interesting burst of attention was given recently to the new installment of Star Wars and the sudden, rapturous love for shipping Finn and Poe. The New Statesmen declared in a recent article that if you’d “been a slash shipper for a long time – hell, if you’ve been any kind of shipper for a long time – this new sort of media attention might catch you off guard” and indeed that sentiment carries a lot of weight simply because shipping has often been a queer realm that has been hidden away from mainstream culture. Furthermore, the Finn/Poe ship wasn’t even based around two women. If this amount of attention is rare for a male pairing, it’s even fewer and further between for women.
As such, it can come as a surprise then whenever one can come across such a thing. Queer women don’t seem to be often afforded the same care and consideration with their stories that their male counterparts often received. Studies from organisations like GLAAD in the last few years show few opportunities for that representation. In film alone their findings show that queer males onscreen “outnumbered female characters 64 percent to 36 percent”. So where can we be found in popular culture? This blog was started with the intention of discussing that, by someone who, like many women out there, seeks that representation in many places that she looks. It could be a failed experiment, but it’s an experiment worth trying nonetheless.