‘A friend who stabs you’: Abjection, violence and the female clique in film

Gildersleeve, Jessica ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7694-5615 (2020) ‘A friend who stabs you’: Abjection, violence and the female clique in film. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 9 (1). pp. 25-37. ISSN 2045-5852


This article establishes a unique subgenre of film (the ‘female clique film’) in which the clique (and its disruption) is central to the film’s plot. It discusses four female clique films – Heathers (1989), The Craft (1996), Jawbreaker (1999) and Mean Girls (2004) – in order to consider their depiction of physical rather than relational aggression: extraordinary and even sociopathic violence occurs both within and outside these female relationships as part of the ritualized identity of the clique. It uses the logic of abjection to analyse the figure of the outsider as well as the female body, showing how social abjection and abject bodies are linked by the clique when they commit both relational and physical aggression against other girls. The article argues that the female clique film must be understood in terms of Alison Yarrow’s ‘bitchification’ – the failures of feminism in the later decades of the twentieth century.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Heritage and Culture (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2020 04:53
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2020 02:09
Uncontrolled Keywords: abjection; female clique; feminism; relational aggression; teen cinema; violence
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200525 Literary Theory
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200212 Screen and Media Culture
Fields of Research (2020): 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470514 Literary theory
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470214 Screen and media culture
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950205 Visual Communication
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/ajpc_00013_1
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/39058

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