DEAD BLONDES AND BAD MOTHERS by Sady Doyle

This book is about the ways women have been seen as monstrous throughout history, pop culture, and real life. It’s broken down into sections on daughters, wives, mothers, and a conclusion on witches.

What she says about dead blondes was cool because it focuses heavily on scary movies/slasher films. It’s about the trope of the dumb blonde chick getting caught up in some elaborate trap that kills her. There are obvious sexist overtones in the films, but Doyle points out that women view them the most–same goes for true crime. The theory is that women’s fears of death/rape/torture are being affirmed, heard, played out in front of them. These films don’t deny the wild threats of violence women in this world face. Plus, sometimes the woman gets away, which is the fantasy.

Doyle also covers liminal spaces like initial menstruation, loss of virginity, and pregnancy (all very in-between places in a person’s life). They’re also all bloody conditions of traditional womanhood. And the treatment of them in American culture reflect anxiety surrounding women’s bodily abilities. In western literature, it dates back to medieval stories like that of Melusine, who was half woman half serpent on Saturdays. She had to hide that from her husband and eventually he broke their promise to not check on her at that time and she was forced to flee society, except to visit the kids (might be a monster but is still an active mom lol). Patriarchal control is thus defined as both mythic and literal.

Doyle makes it clear how fiction shapes reality shapes fiction shapes reality, and so on.

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