18. Cruella and the Female Grotesque

In this episode Janine met up with her friend in academia, Courtney, once more to discuss the 2021 Cruella film. We chat about Cruella, the Baroness, Emma Stone and Emma Thompson, the female grotesque and cross-dressing!

The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
18. Cruella and the Female Grotesque

Welcome back

Janine welcomes everyone back and introduces her guest for today, her friend Courtney Tink. She also introduces the topic for this episode, Cruella.

First things first

Janine asks Courtney what stood out for her in the movie. Courtney highlights a few things – after the first twelve minutes, it became really good! Courtney mentions female insanity and The Joker.

Janine then shares her thoughts. She highlights an age-old Disney trope – women fighting against each other. Janine also mentions Disney’s tendency to villanise older women and female geniuses. Janine also mentions how much she enjoys cross-dressing.

Destroying stereotypes

Courtney then explains how she enjoyed that there are no romantic relationships in the movie. She also highlights that the Baroness’s character is masculine and delightful.

The female grotesque

Courtney gets to the core of the discussion – the female grotesque. Janine asks Courtney to explain the female grotesque in detail and explain it in relation to Cruella. Courtney then gives a detailed account of how Cruella embodies the female grotesque perfectly.

The Baroness

Janine asks Courtney about the female grotesque and age – can the Baroness be grotesque too? Courtney responds by elaborating on Disney tropes and older women. She also mentions the significance of Emma Stone as Cruella.


Janine expresses her regrets that Eva Green was not Cruella. She then explains how Cruella and the Baroness are not sexualized while still having power.

Maternal abjection

They move on to a discussion of motherhood and how scary it is when women hate their babies. Courtney then points out that the Baroness can also be considered as the female grotesque.

Motherhood and horror

Janine responds by elaborating on mother figures in Alien. She explains that the ultimate scary thing is mothers that kill their children in horror movies. Janine also considers the subversive qualities of these types of horror mothers.

More about motherhood

Courtney then considers the fact that not all women should be mothers. Janine responds by pointing out various stereotypes about women and motherhood.

She continues by considering how the Baroness then subverts many stereotypes about motherhood. Janine also explains differences in how biological and adoptive motherhood are generally represented.

Cruella’s internal struggle

Courtney elaborates on Cruella’s internal struggle and compares it to the Joker. They go on to a discussion of nature versus nurture in the creation of villains.

Cruella’s redemption

Janine asks Courtney if Cruella’s redemption is legit because she’s biologically evil and not made evil by society. Courtney responds that Cruella’s redemptive arc is in reconciling the two parts of her identity.

Realistic characters

Janine relates Cruella’s redemption to a more general trend in the representation of women on screen. She explains that these days, characters are represented as more realistic. Janine elaborates on stereotypes of femininity and how we now see different versions of femininity.


Janine and Courtney love cross-dressing in movies!

Final thoughts

Courtney goes back to her statement made about Cruella and the Joker at the beginning of the episode. She explains the difference between how male and female insanity is portrayed in movies.

Changes in representation

They wrap up the episode by noting that we are seeing a shift in representation and that this is exciting. Janine then thanks Courtney for joining and wraps up the episode.

Episode Credits


  • Janine Engelbrecht


  • Courtney Tink


  • Janine Engelbrecht

Small Print

The theme music is "Dashboard Light" by One Two Feet, and is licenced by Holosuite Media through Epidemic Sound.

This podcast is a fan production. All views made are that of the individual(s), and may not represent that of the podcast, or the Holosuite Media network.

The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
The Sci-Fi Feminist - A Feminism and Pop Culture Podcast
18. Cruella and the Female Grotesque