The Feminine Grotesque

Joan Crawford - © Eve Arnold

«You’ve seen her before. She’s Lilith refusing to lie under Adam. She’s Zelda Fitzgerald in the sanatorium. She’s your ex-girlfriend that drank too much and laughed too loud and in the dark muttered about her intense fear of becoming the mother she barely knows. She’s Medusa. She’s your best friend from college whose red lips seem abhorrent, like some open wound speaking all the things women aren’t even supposed to think. She’s the mess you don’t want to clean up. She’s me. Or maybe you’ve seen her on screen in the overripe sexuality of Nicole Kidman in Stoker. Or in the gunshot loud shriek of Bette Davis facing the mirror image she can’t escape in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Or she’s the warped legacy that Joan Crawford has become in the cultural imagination. These women have been with us for a long time and they are legion.»

Angelica Jade, The Feminine Grotesque: a unified theory on female madness in cinema and american culture (series introduction)