Another Feminist Reading of AVP2 Requiem

Last night I went to an excellent party hosted by Kolter in nearby Akron.  As the evening went on, I was talking with Professor Raja’s wife, Jenny (she’s a Renaissance Studies PhD candidate at Florida State, and she has a healthy appreciation of SF) about AVP2 Requiem and my thoughts about the Alien-Predator hybrid as previously discussed on Dynamic Subspace.

Jenny hasn’t seen AVP2 Requiem, but based on my description of the scenes I was most struck by, she gave me another reading that’s more feminist than queer.  Thinking back to the scene where the Alien-Predator hybrid forces itself on a pregnant woman to impregnate her with its monstrous offspring, this image can be reduced to the enforcement of male patriarchy on women.  Men (as signified by the Alien-Predator) are incapable of creating new life.  This is the one thing that women can do that men cannot.  The image of the pregnant women reinforces this signification through her role as creator and progenitor of new human life.  However, the Alien-Predator hybrid takes away her chance to give birth by impregnating her with its voracious and violent spawn that devour her and her child from the inside-out, and erupt from her belly/uterus in an explosion of blood and tissue.

If you think about this, AVP2 Requiem, through this scene, continues to promote the problematic at the heart of SF that goes back to its founding as a genre.  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus is about this very issue–man attempts to usurp woman’s ability to give birth.  There are many examples of this throughout the history of SF, and its clearly an issue that continues to challenge the feminist project (as I read it:  the elimination of patriarchy in order to establish equality regardless of sex or gender).

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.

8 thoughts on “Another Feminist Reading of AVP2 Requiem

  1. “Men (as signified by the Alien-Predator) are incapable of creating new life. This is the one thing that women can do that men cannot”

    so you are telling us that women can immaculatly conceive?

    ….typical narrow minded women,

    just a quick sexual reproduction lesson
    SPERM (from man) + egg (from woman) = Baby

  2. Ben–such astute observation and glorious Internet sarcasm. Let me amend what I wrote and say that only women may give birth–men cannot.

  3. Why is the Alien-Predator male? I find this to be a denial of a male’s humanity, reduced only to an organ capable of “usurping”, as you say, the woman’s ability to give birth. I believe this says more about your outlook on the male gender’s usefulness than it says about an inhuman monster’s supposed maleness, simply because it has something that reminds you of a penis.

    On a related note, it’s strange that you glorify a woman’s ability to give birth without giving due credit to a man’s role of supplying half the genetic information for that birth to take place. Without men, women cannot naturally give birth, just as men cannot create offspring without women. I’ll admit that it is somewhat “unfair” in an abstract sense that women have to bear most of the burden of childbirth, but the fault for this is obviously is not man’s, and amounts to more of a biological accident than the ruling of a patriarchy. In the case that childbirth by women is simply a coincidence, why should women receive praise for being creators, when their role as such is fundamentally dependent on men?

  4. Faisal–thanks for the comment–albeit one that is misogynistic at worst or completely lacking understanding and empathy at best. The biological burden of pregnancy and childbirth is clearly on that of the woman. Furthermore, the cultural burden of childbirth and rearing is almost overwhelmingly placed on the shoulders of women. How then can you simply say that there is a reductive equality between men and women regarding pregnancy and childbirth?

    Why is the Alien-Predator male? Simply, because it is a man in a suit. One with the secondary sexual characteristics typically viewed as male in the West–broad shoulders, extreme musculature, and a lack of breasts. In my psychoanalytic reading of this male-oriented character, I looked for signs that represented sex and sexuality. The phallic assemblage of the alien-predator hybrid was unavoidable, and the striking scene in which it orally rapes the pregnant woman in the hospital pointed to seriously problematic issues visually represented in the film. Obviously from my posts on this issue, there is more at stake here than simply my thinking something looks like a penis.

    I suggest you take some time to sit down and talk to women about their experiences with pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering, and I’m confident that you’ll find that your supposed male and female equality in the creation of life far exceeds the exchange of sperm.

  5. While the symbolism is in no way vague in AVP2 the fact that no prior research was done into the actual “sexuality” of the fictional character in question is just as blunt.

    While I personally write off the two AVP movies as movie studio money grabs at an established franchise; the fact remains that the Xenomorph social structure is akin to that of an ant or bee colony.

    If we go further into this imagined scenario then we can derive the fact that all ant/bee colonies are made up of female both fertile or infertile.

    A single male Xenomorph would have to make an appearance at some point to some how impregnate the fertile female and then die.

    However, as this is an alien species it could just as well be explained away that it produces viable embryos asexually.

    A simple change to the script, such as the Predalien impregnating all humans it encountered (which makes a lot more sense for a species trying to survive), would remove this argument entirely.

    I guess it boils down to a single realization: Colin and Greg Strause are dicks (Directors).

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