Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

Supernatural Abjection

1 Comment

ImageI don’t watch much horror but I am a fan of the TV show Supernatural. The basic idea of the show is that two brothers Sam and Dean Winchester team up and hunt supernatural creatures. Supernatural can be read abjectively a number of ways, the murder of Sam and Dean’s mom, the murder of countless other women on the show supernatural causes, and even some of the supernatural things themselves. For this blog post I decided to focus on the supernatural baddy from the first episode, a woman in white.

A woman in white is created when a woman murders her children and then commits suicide. In this episode the woman in white is hitchhiking along the road where she died. If the person is an unfaithful lover, the woman in white kills them. This is exactly the monstrous feminine and the “vagina that castrates” (251). Sam and Dean are attacked by the woman in white later in the episode. Sam says to her “you can’t kill me I’m not unfaithful” to which she responds “you will be” and proceeds to attack him again. Not only is she raping one of the male heroes of the story but she is also trying to murder him.

ImageThe woman in white fits the “concept of the monstrous feminine, as constructed within/by a patriarchal and phallocentric ideology” (252). The woman in white is supernatural, deadly, attractive and most importantly, she is more powerful than her male prey. In order to kill the woman in white Sam crashes the car into her house, the spirits of her dead children plead for their mother to return back to them, to “come home.”

The woman in white does not desire “to cling to her offspring in order to continue to ‘have the phallus’” (264) but rather the opposite of that. The woman in white “cannot break away from the mother” (254) in this case the mother being the children. When she is brought into the house the three spirits join violently and leave the physical world. Upon meeting her mother (the children) the woman in white is literally sucked into the ‘black hole’ symbolic of the absence of the penis (261). The power the woman in white possesses is more powerful than an ordinary man but that power can be easily stripped away, allowing her to embody the threat of castration in as power and the threat of a loss of power.Image

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One thought on “Supernatural Abjection

  1. I think you make a really important point about the nature of female power. It is easy to think that the “castrated female” is essentially devoid of any power, that she is completely impotent because of her lack of phallus. You point out that she does possess power and agency, but this power is more precarious, more vulnerable, more likely to be hunted down and destroyed. Like in Hansel & Gretel – the witch does possess the power to cast spells, lure the children, etc, but the story is resolved with her being stripped of her power and destroyed by her own oven (another symbol of the “black hole” of phallic absence).

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