Push Comes to Shove
In the past, more often than not, aggressive women have been rebuked, told to keep a lid on, turn the other cheek, get over it. Repression more than aggression was seen as woman’s domain. But recently there’s been a noticeable cultural shift. With growing frequency, women’s aggression is now celebrated in contemporary culture—in movies and TV, online ventures, and art. In Push Comes to Shove, Maud Lavin examines these new images of aggressive women and how they affect women’s lives.
Aggression, says Lavin, need not entail causing harm to another; we can think of it as the use of force to create change—fruitful, destructive, or both. And over the past twenty years, contemporary culture has shown women seizing this power. Lavin chooses provocative examples to explore the complexity of aggression, including the surfer girls in Blue Crush, Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect, the homicidal women in Kill Bill, and artist Marlene McCarty’s mural-sized Murder Girls.
Women need aggression and need to use it consciously, Lavin writes. With Push Comes to Shove, she explores the crucial questions of how to manifest aggression, how to represent it, and how to keep open a cultural space for it.
About the Author
Maud Lavin is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies and Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Cut with the Kitchen Knife: The Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Höch and Clean New World: Culture, Politics, and Graphic Design (MIT Press, 2001).
Table of Contents
- PUSH COMES TO SHOVE
- Push Comes to Shove
- New Images of Aggressive Women
- Maud Lavin
- The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England
- © 2010
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
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- Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
- Lavin, Maud. Push comes to shove : new images of aggressive women / Maud Lavin. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index ISBN 978-0-262-12309-9 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Women in art. 2. Women in popular culture—United States—History—20th century. 3. Women in popular culture—United States—History—21st century. 4. Aggressiveness in art. 5. Aggressiveness in popular culture—United States—History—20th century. 6. Aggressiveness in popular culture—United States—History—21st century. 7. Arts, American—20th century. 8. Arts, American—21st century. 9. Popular culture—United States—History—20th century. 10. Popular culture—United States—History—21st century. I. Title. II. Title: New images of aggressive women. NX652.W6L38 2010 704.9'4240973—dc22 2009046986
- 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
- To my brothers Douglas, Franklin, and Carl Lavin, with love
- 1 Sibling Play
- Women, Sports, and Movies
- 2 Aging and Aggression
- 3 Violence
- Kill Bill and
- Murder Girls
- 4 Unbuttoning Sexuality
- Zane and Kara Walker
- 5 More Siblings
- Aggression within Art and Activist Groups
- 6 Conclusion
—Leslie Heywood, author of Pretty Good for a Girl and Built to Win
—Keala Kennelly, big wave surfer and the first woman to tow-in surf at Teahupo'o in Tahiti
—Akiko Busch, author of Nine Ways to Cross a River