It's About This: Lesbians, Prison, Desire

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social and Legal Studies, 2004, 13 (2), pp. 155 - 190
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This article explores three narratives of violently transgressive lesbians in a prison setting. The stories are two English novels, Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter (1985), Affinity by Sarah Waters (1999) and an English TV series, Bad Girls (1999-ongoing). A number of disruptive and counter-hegemonic aspects run through these stories including their portrayal of violence as a reasonable response to oppressive social conditions, a distinct problematizing of heterosexuality and the metaphor of a prison panopticon to explore the constraints imposed on all women s lives. The article argues that the representation of lesbian desire in all three tales is truly radical in that it acts to dissolve unequal power dyads, although it also comes to question the extent to which it is possible, even in fiction, to sustain such rupture in the face of dominant cultural imperatives to re-capture and domesticate homo-normative images.
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