Trayectorias Humanas Trascontinentales (2019-12-01)

“Banlieusarde”, the empowered (fe) male: man up! Gaining back her body is gaining back her space in Divines (2016)

  • Emma Chebinou

Journal volume & issue
no. 6


Read online

This article will examine the representation of the second generation of immigrant women in their urban space in the movie Divines directed by Ouda Benyamina (2016). Benyamina portrays a young, yet determined, female, Dounia from a disadvantaged area on the edge of the projects, who lives with her mother and her cross-dressing uncle. Her identity eventually becomes a hybrid-gender (fe) male: the looks of a female with male personality attributes such as hustling, dealing drugs, and being a provider. Like her male counterpart, she has the agency to create a specific representation by telling or showing her own story. I will explore how resistance becomes a protective shell for the female protagonist that allows her to create a macho violence as a survival strategy in her own space. How does female agency, articulated through a thematic of space lead to a reconstruction of the female body and identity? I argue that the French underrepresented female situates herself in relation to Republican hegemonic discourses by adopting a double-gender status and a double-space status. Space in Divines challenges the gender problematic since it is focused on a strictly male environment of the projects that she attempts to dominate at all costs. Changing her space is changing the view of her male counterparts but, most of all, changing the condition of these femmes de l’ombre. That allows her to regain this violence into power to survive and to renegotiate her space in French society.