The analysis of Girlfight (Karyn Kusama, 2000) in this paper is framed by critical discourses surrounding physically active female characters in the action genre, the conventions of the boxing film ‘genre’, the relationship between bodily spectacle and narrative structure, as well as the more general significance of the female boxer’s challenge to normative and binary notions of bodily existence and subjectivity. With a particular focus on the interrelationship between narrative structure and boxing sequences (‘numbers’), this paper explores notions of the (gendered) subjectivity constructed around the film’s female boxing character, Diana (Michelle Rodriguez). I will argue that the boxing ‘numbers’ largely function as a (bodily) articulation of Diana’s struggle for a unified sense of identity and the embodiment of subjectivity. However, the emphasis on the materiality of the body in earlier ‘numbers’ is replaced in the final boxing sequence by a sense of abstraction and generic integration. The significance of the physicality of the body in relation to the embodiment of subjectivity is therefore strangely disavowed and the (bodily) agency of Diana’s character undermined.

Author Biography

Katharina Lindner has recently completed her PhD on representations of female athleticism in cinema at the University of Glasgow. Her general research interests include feminist film and cultural criticism, theories of gender and sexuality, popular film and culture, representation and identity, as well as sports.