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The fear of Jennifer’s (sexual) Body

By September 18, 2009 9 Comments
Movie poster for <i>Jennifer

Movie poster for Jennifer's Body

While our culture is being inundated with stories about romantic, supernatural males, such as vampires sweeping everyday ladies off their feet, we get a story about a supernatural girl literally eating horny high school boys.

Jennifer’s Body is a thinly veiled retelling of the age-old story based on fear of women’s sexuality. What could be scarier for boys than a woman with sexual power?

Jennifer’s Body links a girl’s assertive sexual behavior with the death of male sexuality. This concept takes form when we see Jennifer, played by Megan Fox, seduce boys in her town. Jennifer then quite literally kills their sexuality by eating her victims.

According to azcentral.com, the reason Jennifer is possessed in the first place is because of a botched human sacrifice. Azcentral.com alludes to the idea that the sacrifice goes wrong due to the fact that Jennifer, the human intended to be sacrificed, wasn’t a virgin — as if there weren’t enough slights on female sexuality, Jennifer’s Body throws virginal status in the mix. The obvious result of sexual activity for a woman is demonic possession. (Ahem, that’d be sarcasm.)

Megan Fox plays a demonic teen in <em>Jennifer

Megan Fox plays a demonic teen in Jennifer's Body

Like the movie Teeth, where a young woman goes on a rampage, killing unsuspecting men with her mutant teeth (which are in a sexually strategic place), Jennifer’s Body is helping to spread fear of women’s bodies and sexualities.

We often see sexually powerful men, such as Edward from Twilight, who are not necessarily threatening, but just plain sexy. Can you think of an example in pop culture of a sexually powerful woman who is not seen in some way as a threat to men? I’m drawing a blank.

<em>Teeth</em> is a gory exploration of the mythological "vagina dentata"

Teeth is a gory exploration of the mythological "vagina dentata"

Movies like Jennifer’s Body and Teeth are marketed as dark comedies, but this type of label undermines the cultural impact story lines like these can have. Just because something is presented as a joke doesn’t mean it can’t still have a negative effect.

For example, racist jokes might be intended to be funny, but they still carry implications of how the joke-teller sees the world. Can you see how “comedies” like Jennifer’s Body impact the way people view women’s sexuality? Tell us what you think in the comments section for this blog.

I don’t want to tell anyone not to see the movie, but I do think it is important to think about what movies like Jennifer’s Body say about girls’ and women’s sexualities. Next time you see a movie look for the assumptions and the hidden story lines, you might be surprised by what you find.

If you see flaws in the movie and you want to do something about it, you can let Diablo Cody, the film’s writer, know what you think about Jennifer’s Body by sending a message through her myspace page.