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Historically associated with melodramatic social problem and exploitation films, the women-in-prison (WIP) genre has been both praised for making space for the exploration of women’s internal lives and desires and critiqued for its containment of female ‘deviance’ safely behind bars. By contrast, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro’s Bitch Planet (Image Comics, 2014–present) uses the WIP genre to broaden its critical gaze out from the women’s prison until it encompasses society as a whole. The series draws upon many of the tropes of WIP movies, but subverts them by manipulating the viewer’s gaze in order to critique our complicity with panoptic surveillance of the oppressive state depicted in its pages. This chapter will critically explore the story, style and creative context of Bitch Planet, examining its development of the women’s prison as a space through which to develop a broader critique of patriarchal twenty-first-century neoliberalism. Though initially conceived as a hyperbolic social satire, in the wake of the 2016 US Elections and the #Metoo movement, Bitch Planet’s ideas and stories seem ever more prescient and urgent.
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- ‘Are You Woman Enough to Survive?’: Bitch Planet’s Collaborative Critique of the Neo-Liberal Prison-Industrial Complex