Dressed to Kill

Viewers’ Relationships with Representations of Violent Hyper-femininity in Contemporary Queer Horror


  • Revena Correll Trnka Victoria University of Wellington




Recent trends in contemporary horror TV present queer women as Western media’s latest anti-hero, foregrounding presentations of hyper-femininity as central to queer women’s violence. I examine how representations of ‘violent lesbians’ are used by viewers to aid in shaping and understanding their own identities. Drawing on fashion theory as well as Barbara Creed’s concept of the ‘monstrous feminine’ to examine the role depictions of hyper-femininity play in both highlighting and undermining women’s power, I present a textual analysis of two queer horror shows – Ratched (2020–) and Killing Eve (2018–2022) – alongside discussions with fans via focus groups and interviews. I examine how these shows represent queerness and femininity in relation to violent women, and how women and non-binary individuals collectively create meaning out of these representations. I argue that while these shows present viewers with alternative images of femininity, they also reinforce certain gender norms, supporting dominant power structures that present a restrained image of queer women’s deviancy, and one that is not available to all bodies. Viewers critically engage with this material, utilising these shows to expand their own understandings and expressions of identity, while also challenging the shows’ limitations.

Author Biography

Revena Correll Trnka, Victoria University of Wellington

Revena Correll Trnka recently completed a Masters in Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington. In addition, they co-run the Wellington theatre company, Ducttapedon. Their interests include performance, gender and sexual identity, and fashion.




How to Cite

Correll Trnka, R. (2024). Dressed to Kill: Viewers’ Relationships with Representations of Violent Hyper-femininity in Contemporary Queer Horror. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 20(1), 67–83. https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-id528



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