Suddenly after the war, though she shifted from that slightly nefarious creature to this ballbusting, horrifying, liberated woman. Again, you have propaganda to blame for this. The expectation was that women would just fall in line. It’s what we always did, but this time something was brewing.
The movements that fought for independence were remembered as a new wave of feminism was ushered in. Thank goodness for the hippies, because they helped pave the way for a huge push to change our ideas of what women could be.
You had no only a generation of women that wanted to be something other than the mothers, give rise to the most powerful class of women in the 70s and 80s giving rise to a lot of homes now being absent two parents. Yes the exchange was hard, yes it affected a lot of us, but having our moms go back to work told us something, it told us we were more than that kitchen.
I am a child born in the late ’70s who grew up in the ’90s when feminism sort of was being ‘cemented’ in away. It started long before me, but those pioneers paved the way for me to be in school, for me to have a vision of myself that was more than just the evil vamp sucking the fun out of this male landscape.
I was not always a feminist, but I grew into it when I found myself understanding something pivotal, I had ‘worth’. This is something I think is overlooked when we think about the negatives of the feminist, I know we were always worth something, but to ‘believe’ it permitted me to know that I could be more than my mother and grandmother.
However, this dark undercurrent of control rose in the films of the 80s-90s, the women were all either psycho killers or dumb witless morons who didn’t know how to do anything. There were oddballs out there that were really strong but not very many of them, and the new second type of the femme was born. She was now an angry feminist about to cut off your junk and leave you naked and alone.
As the early 2000s ushered in, she changed again, now we have this almost somewhat back, somewhat forward momentum. Partly, we have moved forward in that women have slightly better rights than before, we can have a variety of careers, and can achieve things like the president, it is possible. But we also have this push back against that, the control for our bodies for our freedoms still decided by men.
The transition in literature is more a middle between psycho/vamp/feminine with a dash of occasional changes to sexuality, allowing more freedom for women to embrace and be out in the rainbow as it were, there is still a piece of us that remains in cinema as the ‘she-devil’ but its almost satirical now, we have moved into more cunning and deceptive [like Gone Girl and The Circle] to films that embrace aspects of us being smart, determined and free [What Men Want]. We have permitted ourselves to be what we want, and that is the most powerful position we can be in.
The femme fatal may always be problematic for us to see in the lens of feminism, but it is critical to understand one thing, if we don’t want to be seen as the devil, we must take our power and lift others who are equally disenfranchised in film and literature. We should not use this power to crush the males in our life, but to lift them with us, and bring them to fight for us as allies. To accept and embrace the trans community, to lift our lesbian sisters, to fight for human rights, to be the force for good, to not use our power to crush but to heal, to reach out and accept that we are finally close to the place we have clawed to be.
“With the promises of the sexual revolution in tatters and female sexual pride on life support, we’ve been pushed willy-nilly, to a breaking point, to action”-The future: Seduction and the Seductress, Betsy Prioleau
Maybe Prioleau is right, this last gasp of our claim for the things we want lies in the world in which we balanced our sexuality and embraced it, the liberation of women and the view of them in literature and film continues to evolve, and hopefully, one day we will see it have the same introspection as men.
Hopefully, we will see the femme fatal back to its original more pro feminine form, where she was the power, she was the center and in her lay the mysteries of the universe waiting to be unlocked and shared to those who she welcomes inside.