NTU Senior Lecturer Helen Hall discusses feminism in film

NTU Senior Lecturer Helen Hall discusses feminism in film

 September 12, 2023

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Women researchers at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) often share their expertise on current cultural and sociological topics with the media. 

Senior Lecturer, Nottingham Law School at Nottingham Trent University, Helen Hall, spoke with The Conversation about the role of feminism in the movie The Nun II.  

An arresting piece of storytelling 

"The Nun II is an arresting piece of storytelling which satisfies and subverts audience expectations in equal measure," shares Helen. 

Highlighting that there is a "casual side-stepping of the all-too-real gender constraints of the mid-20th century," Helen acknowledges that the movie also brings a 'refreshingly feminist gloss to well-worn tropes within exorcism fiction', and, as such, shatters  assumptions about who should be the victim and who should be the rescuer.

"Women – and especially adolescent girls – are usually imagined as prey when it comes to demonic forces," explains Helen. "This perception shapes both real-world behaviour and the entertainment industry. Consequently, The Nun II, in which all of the key demon-battling protagonists are female and coming to the rescue of a stricken adult man, is a dramatic inversion of the norm. Furthermore, none of the women are infantilised or sexually objectified. They kick and batter monsters in long skirts, trousers, knitted jumpers and sensible shoes."

A film that breaks the mould 

Helen explains that the progressive change isn't at the ridicule of men: "The female actors are allowed to be the rescuers due to the situation, rather than because of any inadequacy on the part of their male companions."

"Given the damage done to women and girls through exorcism-related abuse (most of which takes place outside Roman Catholic settings) and harmful gender stereotyping more generally, a film that breaks this mould has a lot to commend it," she says.

Helen's active research is in the fields of Law and Religion/Belief, and in Law and the Supernatural. She has a particular interest in law and exorcism/deliverance ministry and also publishes widely on Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Legal History and Tort.

Helen is the Editor-in-Chief of the Nottingham Law Journal, Journal of Rights and NLS Blog. Her external activities include advising groups working towards an effective legal ban on Conversion Therapy in England and Wales, and more robust legal position and better outcomes for individuals suffered accusations or abuse linked to beliefs about malevolent magic or spirit possession.

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