Scripting the Female Voice: The Phonograph, the Cinematograph

According to anthropologist Gayle Rubin's theory of sex/gender systems, women in Western societies have traditionally served as the vehicles through which power is transferred from one male to another. These conventions, she claims, have a social, not a biological foundation, and depend – however arbitrarily – on signs of sexual difference, Two late nineteenth-century novels, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's L'Eve future and Jules Verne's Le Château des Carpathes, deal with the self-aware female performer who threatened to demystify the belief in the natural origins of gendered roles and the imbalance of power. These novels reflect the resulting practice of fetishizing the female body in order to render visible sexual, and ostensibly social difference, a practice necessitating the stripping or scripting of her voice by means of the new communication technologies: the phonograph, the moving-picture camera, the telephone, and radio. (JF)
Forrest, Jennifer
Volume 1998-1999 Fall-Winter; 27(1-2): 71-95