Female Sexploitation in Indonesian Horror Films: Sundel Bolong (A Perforated Prostitute Ghost, 1981), Gairah Malam III (Night Passion III, 1996), and Air Terjun Pengantin (Lost Paradise - Playmates in Hell, 2009)
This research explores the portrayal of female sexual exploitation (sexploitation) and representation in three Indonesian horror films: Sundel Bolong (A Perforated Prostitute Ghost, 1981), Gairah Malam III (Night Passion III, 1996), and Air Terjun Pengantin (Lost Paradise – Playmates in Hell, 2009). These films coincide with three significant political periods in Indonesia, namely: the New Order period; the Transition period; and the post-New Order period that shaped and reflects the present Indonesian society. The New Order was known as authoritarian and repressive with prevalent censorship; the Transition period was marked by unstable political and economic conditions; and Post-New Order has seen a shift toward democracy with more freedom of speech. This research utilises a qualitative research methodology with thematic and textual analysis. Drawing on Mulvey’s (1975) visual pleasure concept, the research shows that women are clearly represented as sexual objects to be savoured by heterosexual male viewers. In addition, this research uses Creed’s (1993) concept of the monstrous feminine to analyse female character representation in the three selected films, in their respective political and economic contexts, to compare a ‘good’ woman and a ‘bad’ woman according to Indonesian patriarchal society. The research finds that female characters are depicted as dependent, passive and helpless, which is associated with Indonesian ideals of womanhood during the New-Order and Transition periods. However, during the Post-New Order period, female representation has changed. The female character is depicted as a survivor who does not need a man’s support and protection. She is more independent, active and fierce; yet, she still cannot escape fully from society’s expectation for her to follow the patriarchal rule.