Entertainment and profit constitute the driving force behind popular representations of women in correctional facilities. But the creative influence of film and television also generates legal meaning. The women-in-prison (WIP) genre can leave viewers feeling both empathetic toward the women portrayed in these representations and troubled about the crimes for which they have been convicted.
Focusing on five exemplary WIP films and a television series – Ann Vickers, Caged, Caged Heat, Stranger Inside, Civil Brand, and Orange Is the New Black – Women, Film, and Law asks how fictional representations explore, shape, and refine beliefs about women who are incarcerated. From melodrama to exploitation, and from theatre screenings to on-demand film, television programs, and music videos, these texts bring into view the legal, economic, and political structures that criminalize women differently from men, and that target those women who are already marginalized.
Women, Film, and Law convincingly argues that popular depictions of women’s imprisonment can illuminate the multiple forms of social exclusion and oppression experienced by criminalized women.
1 A Genre of One’s Own
2 Reforming Prisons, Transforming Women: Ann Vickers
3 The Unattainability of Reform: Caged!
4 Recuperating Exploitation: Caged Heat
5 Representing Incarcerated Black Women: Stranger Inside and Civil Brand
6 Representation and Recalibrating the WIP Genre: Orange Is the New Black
Notes; Selected Filmography; Index
Suzanne Bouclin is an associate professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. She has published in both French and English in a wide array of periodicals, including the Canadian Journal of Women in the Law, Public Law, the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, and the e-journal Literature, History of Ideas, Images and Societies of the English-Speaking World.
An excellent analysis of the social significance of the women-in-prison genre.
~Mark Bernhardt, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice