Male Femininity as Sacrificial Corpse: Kutluğ Ataman’s Lola and Billy the Kid

  • Barbara Mennel


In the foregoing chapters I have shown how masochistic aesthetics enables the negotiation of gender and sexual identity. This chapter on Turkish film director Kutlug Ataman’s 1999 film Lola and Billy the Kid continues the topic of cross-dressing in its relation to masochistic aesthetics. The pairing of Sacher-Masoch’s The Love of Plato and Ataman’s Lola and Billy the Kid allows me to put pressure on the tropes of masquerade and homosexuality via masochistic aesthetics. In The Love of Plato the main female character, Nadeschda, attempts to seduce the main male character, Henryk, by masquerading as a man because Henryk believes in platonic love. However, it is precisely the act of masquerading that exposes Nadeschda’s shortcomings and her inability to love platonically. The Love of Plato creates the titillating pleasure of cross-dressing based on the suspense surrounding ambivalent gender identity. The novella enables a safe transgression of reified gender categories by reconstituting traditional gender norms and punishing the transgressing woman at the conclusion of the narrative. In that way the novella both employs and disavows the pleasure of masquerade, and masquerade functions in the narrative as a masochistic feminine act that exposes the female characters essential feminine qualities. Woman is caught in a double-bind: she masquerades to hide her shortcomings, but it is precisely the fact that she masquerades that expresses her imperfection.


Sexual Identity Fairy Tale Turkish Woman Film Theory Male Homosexuality 
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© Barbara Mennel 2007

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  • Barbara Mennel

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