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Alien Feminisms and Cinema’s Posthuman Women

In this essay, I ask how we can chart new feminist epistemologies around the figure of the posthuman woman. To explore how the posthuman female body is situated as a site of ontological and epistemological struggle around feminism, femininity, and subjectivity in contemporary screen culture, I examine two recent films about alien/cyborg posthuman female entities: Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 Under the Skin and Alex Garland’s 2015 Ex Machina. Both films illuminate the complex assemblages of subjectivity of the feminine posthuman. Moreover, they explore the sites of circular convergence—rather than fissures—between the human and posthuman form. I discuss how alien feminisms can respond to the new and emerging epistemologies across this nature–(techno)culture continuum without inadvertently upholding humanist anthropocentrism. I conclude that the posthuman condition is not (yet) a postgender condition. Rather, it is a becoming-gendered condition, where traditional gender features stubbornly persist but as a contingent process of perpetual assemblage and undoing rather than of continued stability and fixity. For the posthuman women discussed here, their posthumanness is concealed by the surface layer of skin, which peels off and can be put back on as an unstable barrier between the human and the posthuman, and between surface and depth.