Push Comes to Shove: New Images of Aggressive Women

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Overview

In the past, more often than not, aggressive women have been rebuked, told to keep a lid on, turn the other cheek, get over it. Repression more than aggression was seen as woman’s domain. But recently there’s been a noticeable cultural shift. With growing frequency, women’s aggression is now celebrated in contemporary culture—in movies and TV, online ventures, and art. In Push Comes to Shove, Maud Lavin examines these new images of aggressive women and how they affect women’s lives.

Aggression, says Lavin, is necessary, large, messy, psychological, and physical. Aggression need not entail causing harm to another; we can think of it as the use of force to create change—fruitful, destructive, or both. And over the past twenty years, contemporary culture has shown women seizing this power. Lavin chooses provocative examples to explore the complexity of aggression: the surfer girls in Blue Crush; Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect; the homicidal women in Kill Bill and artist Marlene McCarty’s mural-sized Murder Girls; the erotica of Zane and the art of Kara Walker; the group dynamics of artists (including the artists group Toxic Titties) and activists; and YouTube videos of a woman boxer training and fighting.

Women need aggression and need to use it consciously, Lavin writes. With Push Comes to Shove, she explores the crucial questions of how to manifest aggression, how to represent it, and how to keep open a cultural space for it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"…Lavin is well-versed in this kind of interdisciplinary negotiation and…handles the task of juxtaposing seemingly disparate media eloquently and efficiently." — Art Journal

"A timely, insightful look at contemporary representations of women's aggression and their impact on women's real lives.... Accessible, engaging, and grounded in reality. It's a uniquely useful book, one that provides a dynamic framework that could encompass explorations of an even wider range of women's aggression, such as roller derby or Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Here's hoping that Lavin's work pushes more critics and writers to undertake those explorations." Tammy Oler Bitch magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262123099
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 8/20/2010
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Maud Lavin is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies and Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Cut with the Kitchen Knife: The Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Höch and Clean New World: Culture, Politics, and Graphic Design (MIT Press, 2001).

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