Some Problems with Gendered Subjectivity and Representation: Baise Moi and Hard-Core Pornography

Temmuz Süreyya Gürbüz


Based on a theoretical framework developed by the works of critical theorists Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, this article questions the role of gendered representation in the discourse around the film Baise Moi (Despentes and Trinh Thi, 2000). The film has been criticized, due to its engagement with pornography and trash aesthetics as well as its “bad ending”, and associated with a reaffirmation of patriarchal power practices on screen. This article argues that such readings remain within the limited territory of seeking an ideal representation of femininity based on the gender/sex binary which Butler’s early work on gender has critiqued. The first section of the article explores the discourse of “extremity” and “illegality” that surrounds Baise Moi by way of situating the concept of “screen representation” within the Foucauldian territory of power. Following this trajectory, the article discusses how Baise Moi conveys a layered audio-visual organization and negativity that attest to the attainability of non-conforming sexualities through an ironic adoption of pornography. It is argued that the film’s ironic and referential negative aesthetics exploits and overwrites the narrative – the narrative that provides the means through which the film can overturn gender norms associated with the genres it adopts from, such as hard-core porn’s idealism around female sexuality.


Gender; Genre; Pornography; Sexuality; Representation; French New Extremity; Michel Foucault; Judith Butler

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A Ma Seour!, Dir. Catherine Breillat, Criterion, 2004

Baise Moi, Dir. Virginie Despentes and Carolie Trinh Thi, Pan Europeénne, 2000

Fatal Attraction, Dir. Adrian Lyne, Paramount Pictures, 1987

Irreversible, Dir. Gaspar Noé, Lions Gate, 2002

Romance, Dir. Catherine Breillat, Lions Gate, 2002

Scarface, Dir. Brian De Palma, Universal Pictures, 1983

Thelma and Louise, Dir. Ridley Scott, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1991



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