The “Post” Era: Defining Postpatriarchy and Postfeminism
  • Kimberly Jackson


Gender and the Nuclear Family in Twenty-First-Century Horror focuses specifically on the ways that patriarchal decline and postfeminist ideology are portrayed in popular American horror films of the twenty-first century Taken as a whole, the films I discuss here suggest that contemporary American culture finds itself in a postpatriarchal state. Like the various other “posts” used to characterize contemporary society, this prefix does not imply that we have gotten beyond patriarchy but rather that it is no longer a functional model for describing social relations, yet it is so deeply entrenched we cannot envision an alternative. Popular horror films produced in the past decade suggest that the bourgeois nuclear family, once seen as the exemplary embodiment of patriarchal culture, now suffers grave consequences in the face of this cultural standstill, trapped between a future it cannot envision and a past it cannot forget.


Nuclear Family Popular Culture Female Character Feminist Identity Social Conformity 
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  1. 1.
    Several recent monographs and edited collections offer a strong context for a more complete discussion of gender that includes depictions of masculinity in their examinations of trends in popular Hollywood films from the 1970s to the present day. These include Cohan and Hark’s Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema (Routledge, 1993);Google Scholar
  2. Kirkham and Thumim’s You Tarzan: Masculinity, Movies, and Men (Lawrence and Wishart, 1993);Google Scholar
  3. Peter Lehman’s Masculinity: Bodies, Movies, and Culture (Routledge, 2001);Google Scholar
  4. David Greven’s Manhood in Hollywood from Bush to Bush (University of Texas Press, 2009);Google Scholar
  5. and Barry Keith Grant’s Shadows of Doubt: Negotiations of Masculinity in American Genre Films (Wayne State University Press, 2011). Additionally, critics writing on more recent horror films today—Aviva Briefel, Steffen Hantke, and Kendall Phillips, for example—offer complex analyses of both feminine and masculine gender positions, paving the way for a reconsideration of the relationship between gender and horror.Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    See Greven’s Representations of Femininity in American Genre Cinema (Palgrave, 2011),CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Phillips’s Dark Directions: Romero, Craven, Carpenter, and the Modern Horror Film (Southern Illinois, 2012),Google Scholar
  8. and Thompson’s Apocalyptic Dread: American Film at the Turn of the Millennium (SUNY, 2007).Google Scholar

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© Kimberly Jackson 2016

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  • Kimberly Jackson

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