Bad Girls: Criminality

Lucille Cairns

in Sapphism on Screen

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2006 | ISBN: 9780748621651
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651108 | DOI:
Bad Girls: Criminality

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This chapter examines instances in French and francophone films where lesbian desire is laminated to – and, in most cases, assimilated with – one or more of the categories that all coalesce under the broad sign of ‘criminality’: sin (breaching of religious prohibitions), vice (affronts to religious and/or social – usually bourgeois – morality), aggression, violence and bestiality. The danger represented by the lesbian figure may be physical or, though less commonly, merely a violation of the Symbolic (gendered) Order in which straight male supremacy inheres. Lesbian desire as contiguous with vice in the sense of an affront to bourgeois morality that is uncontaminated by violence or aggression is rare in the corpus: the only obvious instance is Luis Buñuel's Belle de Jour (1967). The concatenation of lesbian desire and criminal violence is consummate in Nico Papatakis's Les Abysses (1963). Claude Chabrol's Les Biches (1968) blends lesbian love with narcissism/fusion (and, symbolically, with animality).

Keywords: Belle de Jour; francophone films; lesbian desire; criminality; sin; vice; aggression; violence; bestiality; Les Abysses

Chapter.  14376 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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