1. Here it seems appropriate to anticipate a possible objection. In an article on action heroines a few years ago, Elizabeth Hills argued, perfectly fairly, that interpreting gun-toting women as "figurative males," as psychoanalytic critics such as Carol Clover (1992) have tended to do, may suggest that resourcefulness and aggression are essentially "masculine traits." Following Deleuze, Hills suggests abandoning binaristic male/female models of gender. There are indeed dangers in any critical paradigm which underwrites a binary model of gender.
However, it could be argued (as I am sure Clover herself would argue) that "masculine traits" are not essentially masculine, but have rather been coded as masculine through the patriarchal signifying practices of Western culture. From a historicist and materialist perspective, such as my own, a discussion of the dualistic (male/female) system of gender representation remains useful, since this framework is the one within which understandings of gender identity are popularly framed (and contested) in popular culture. Thus, while Hills is right to assert that a gun cannot always and everywhere be read as a "fixed referent for the phallus," the psychoanalytic connotation of guns is undeniable, at least within contemporary Western contexts. Although guns are not always referents for the phallus, I would argue that the appearance of Jovovich’s Alice with a gun in the poster for Resident Evil implies, for a western audience habituated to such imagery, connotes "maleness."
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