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Adrogynous Punk as Postfeminist Signifying Strategy of Transgression within Subcultures

Punk Aesthetic as Gender De(con)struction in the Trilogy Film Series "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Sheila Malone

This article investigates contemporary representations of androgyny and the strategic possibilities of punk-androgyny within a postfeminist imaginary. In looking at the characters Lisbeth in the Swedish film trilogy The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo and Kino in the Japanese anime series Kino's Journey, I am interested in connecting the metonymy of punk dress to representations of transgressions of gender norms. My investigation looks at the concept that gender is “unread” through androgyny which manifests as visual signifiers that make up the punk metonymy. The subjects (characters Lisbeth and Kino) erase the signifier of gender, through punk-androgyny, in order to reclaim power and identity within a (masculinized) subculture and mainstream society. Androgyny is not the desire to be the opposite sex as in a transgender subjectivity. Instead, androgyny is a strategy of aesthetics that transgresses the normative structure of language and signifiers that refer girls and women as less than or as Other through the normative codes of feminizing. In addition to arguing that punk metonymy erases explicit or readable/normative gender signs, I analyze how the motorcycle is situated as an extension of the body. The use of motorcycling propels the literal and figurative androgynous bodies through space in overt transgressive actions against the establishment; it provides agency, motility and ultimately new subject positions for the female protagonists. Through a critical analysis drawing from cultural and post-feminist theory and through the examination of specific scenes, this article aims to investigate punk aesthetic as a post-feminist strategy.