Mothering the monsters

Maternity is both danger and salvation for 'mad' female scientists, says women's studies professor

J. Kasi Jackson
Aug 31, 2006
In my work on female scientists in B-movies, I explore the way that such films deal with our inclination to view science as masculine and nature as feminine. When men are doing the science, this isn't a contradiction; in these films, masculine, rational science dominates and controls irrational, feminine nature. Sometimes, the pattern is obvious, such as when a wild-haired, wild-eyed Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) from Young Frankenstein (1974) shouts that he will use science to "penetrate into the very womb of impervious nature herself." But what happens when the mad scientist is a woman? Instead of being portrayed as madly evil in the Young Frankenstein, messy-haired sense, B-movie female scientists are capable and feminine -- but with a bizarre twist: an emotional, intuitive and maternal drive channeled toward nature. Or as Stacy Alaimo puts it, she is "unfaithful" to those who trained her, "allying herself with the nature...

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