Censoring the Bump

Censoring the Bump: Body-Horror as a Consequence of Restricting Women’s Reproduction Rights in Life and on Screen
9th November 2022
Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland [online]

The presentation draws out the coincidences between the increase in production of body-horror fiction films with the establishing of restrictions of female reproduction rights. The given examples encompass the increased production of body-horror films in the 60’s and the recent revival of this sub-genre.

Both of these examples are being discussed in relation to their socio-political contexts: the increasing medicalization of pregnancy and labour; their limited representation in cinema until the late 60’s; and the recent restricting of women’s reproduction rights in US and Poland. The emergence of the body-horror genre as an explicit, radical cinematic form is analysed as being a response to the restricting representation of pregnancy and labour in film (Hays Code censorship in US as the case-study); as well as the cultural expression of collective anxiety and trauma being consequences of bio-political strategies and progressing medicalization of women’s bodies. Comparison of films from the post-Hays Code period and the recent cinematic productions, by different – male and female – filmmakers, provides observations on how female characters and the motif of pregnancy have been employed to build narratives that foster fear of losing bodily autonomy, but also create a safe space where it can be confronted and withstood.

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