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

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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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Keywords: abjection; female clique; feminism; relational aggression; teen cinema; violence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Southern Queensland

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social practices and the cultural meanings that are produced and are circulated through the processes and practices of everyday life. As a product of consumption, an intellectual object of inquiry, and as an integral component of the dynamic forces that shape societies. The journal will be receptive to articles which focus on Australasian examples, or broader comparative and theoretical questions viewed through an Australasian lens.
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