Science fiction and speculative fiction have always enjoyed playing with popular conceptions of feminine roles. Speculative authors were among the first to bring us societies without sexual prejudices, and aliens who suffer role-reversals. Unfortunately, Sci-fi has also been a prime venue for enhanced machismo, and stereotypical treatments of women. Big-breasted space babes have always had their place in B-films. The film Species, which revolves around a half-human, half-alien woman learning about sex in the real world has elements that fall into both categories. What is most striking about the film, however, is the way in which it quite literally calls alien those elements of female experience which are (over)sexed, instinctive, or violent. It is quite common for today's society to be in denial about female sexuality and violence, and to try to ignore its prevalence. Pigeonholing perpetrators as "aberrations" or "outerspace aliens" only heightens this trend. Ironically, sexually violent females seem to also hold a place of fascination and reverence.
Today many scientists are insisting that "rape [by males] is... A natural, biological phenomenon that is a product of the human evolutionary heritage." (Thornhill, 1) While they insist that this does not excuse the act, it should shed some light upon it. Men are simply more likely to want to force sex and sexual contact if they can. It helps along their chances or reproducing successfully. This natural tendency is seen as a part of universal gender roles: "Anthropologist Donald Symons of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has observed, people everywhere understand sex as 'something females have that males want.' " (Thornhill, 4)
In a similar fashion, women are seen as nurturers, while men are killers. "Kathleen Mojas, a Beverly Hills clinical psychologist specializing in women's violence, believes there's been a historic underacknowledgement of female violence. 'We're just beginning to admit that women can do this, just like it used to be impossible to believe that a father could molest a daughter. Now we're beginning to admit that women can be violent and can molest and kill.' " (Braidhill, 8)
However, the facts of life are this: women too commit rape, molest children, sexually harass men, and seek out promiscuous sex. They commit many of the same sexual crimes: "The EEOC estimates that almost 10% of all harassment cases involve female harassment of male victims." (Perry, 1) In addition, women have the same propensity to violence that men do, though it is perhaps less well developed in the general populace. This persistence of sexual desire breaks the unspoken rules of a culture that think men want it, and women probably do not. Violence in women is equally queer.
Consequently, the two seem to often be linked in popular imagination, perhaps as a way to simultaneously vilify and glorify these strange transgressions. For example, female perpetrators in comic books, such as the currently famous Cat Woman or Poison Ivy, are always drawn as highly sexualized villains -- they are far more eroticized than male counterparts. Likewise, female killers are assumed to be driven by feminine passions, such as lust and jealousy. Ironically, the truth of the matter is that most female serial killers are more likely to commit crimes of greed or pure cruelty. For example serial killer Dana Sue Gray seemed to kill primarily to steal credit cards and enjoy the excitement. (Braidhill, 7)
Media often deals with the idea of women who violate their non-violent, non-sexed gender roles as strange, even alien creatures. Our culture has lost much of its shock when a man rapes or murders women, yet a woman who does the same is treated with much surprise. This is truly illustrated in the Species film, which goes beyond societal shock to actually suggest that violence and sex are traits actually born in outer space, and the sexual or aggressive woman is literally an alien.
The female lead in this film supposedly carries a mixture of human and alien DNA. Her "parents" -- the scientists who birthed her and have raised her in a containment unit -- eventually try to kill her when she seems to be too unpredictable for them to control. Still a scared young child, she escapes and flees from her parents. On the way, she undergoes chrysalis and emerges as a full grown, fully developed woman who is both fertile and in heat. This…