Chus Martinez On The Zombie Pin-Up

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In recent years zombies have become distinctly more like their living counterparts—subjects rather than corpses—to the point where zombies are frequently more akin to “average people who are experiencing mental anguish” than mindless animated flesh. However, even where zombies demonstrate self-awareness, their zombiedom means they are still perceived as “others” by their living counterparts. Zombie fiction’s living characters stubbornly overlook the possibility of zombie autonomy despite evidence to the contrary, simply because zombies are zombies.

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This power is converted into pleasure. It is hard to imagine the victimizer viewing such victims as objects. The violator may only seek to justify the violation by focusing on: (a) the victim’s inability to protest; (b) their perception that any protest matters far less than their own pleasure; their pleasure in specifically defiling the victim (taking pleasure from the protest); or the knowledge that no repercussions will result from their action (the victim does not ‘matter’ in a social sense, or lacks rights, putting zombies in a similar category to those labelled ‘mentally ill’).

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Indeed, despite the corpse’s inability to remonstrate against its defilement, necrophilia is founded on “sexual pleasure [derived] from inflicting physical or mental pain on others” (namely the living relatives of the deceased). Even necrophilia therefore hinges on the violator’s powered infliction of suffering.

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The zombie symbolizes ‘monstrous otherness’. Zombies are bodies, nothing more, having “no race, no gender, no sexuality,” zombies have been increasingly positioned in gendered roles. The recent rise in zombie porn— including Porn of the Dead (2006) and Dawna of the Dead (2010)—further attests to the contemporary zombie’s gendering. Zombiedom is such an apt metaphor for female oppression. When gendered female, the undead fittingly symbolize this discursive history of femininity under patriarchy.

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