Over the years, there has been the rising tide of gender inequality all over the world. This is mainly because of individual perceptions about the role of women and men in the society. Traditional beliefs and practices have greatly contributed to the continued stereotype in regards to the issue. Female activists all over the world have been at the forefront in a bid to ensure that they are heard. This has caused the rise of many gender inequality awareness programs so as to ensure that this issue comes to an end. These issues of gender inequality are vibrant almost all sectors including the cinema world. This has also led to the need for some women to stand up for themselves irrespective of the manner in which that they do so. After all, all that they need is someone’s appreciation that they are all equals.
Throughout her works, Gilman states that women have been completely undermined by the society as people who have no ability to think scientifically. All the things that they are involved in leaves them at the mercy of their husbands. As a result, they are demeaned in the society. She also notes that the traditional division of labor created by the society leaves the woman economically dependent on her husband. As a result, the woman is completely deprived of her freedom and autonomy. She compares the woman situation to the domesticated horse.
The problems relate to the issues of gender emanates from several decades back. The ideology of femininity continued becoming vibrant even after the end of the World War II. The aftermath of the War left the economy of the United States of America completely destroyed. As a result, this pushed for the need for each and every individual to stand up for themselves in order to rise on both feet. This implied that both men and women had to do everything in their power so as to recover themselves. Cultural and political on goings at the time brought attention to women's issues. Some of these issues included education reforms. It was during this period that women were progressively more able to speak out against inequality. This was evident through the women who wrote books and poems based on the lives that fellow women had to persevere through in the midst the chauvinist society. Though modern feminism at the time was nonexistent, many women were brave enough to express themselves albeit often indirectly, using subversive and creative methods.
Due to the fact that the social structure initially before the War had been discriminative towards the women, they were now more than willing to rise to the challenge of rebuilding their distorted country. The leadership was in wrangles dominated by loads of bureaucratic leaders and the entire nation was in agony due to the prevailing hunger as a result of the distorted economy. Women, as the home builders, played an extremely crucial role in revitalizing what had been left within the economy in order to hold back the nation together. Subject to the historic assumptions that the role of women primarily lay in the home, the women at the time felt that they had an obligation to stand up for their families through all means in order to push through those hard times. The effects of socio-historical factors were largely felt through all sectors of the economy including the film industry.
As a result of the need to rebuild the nation and stand up for their families, the role of women in the film industry could now be felt through the taking up of certain roles. One of the most evident roles lay in the Femme Fatale. Femme Fatale refers to a seductive and mysterious woman. It has its origin in French meaning “deadly woman.” Particularly, femme fatale refers to the capability of ladies to use their beauty, sexual allure and charm so as to obtain what they need without essentially revealing it unswervingly. A femme fatale, however, may also be a woman who is just trapped in a difficult situation without any evil intentions. In this case, she is just a victim of circumstances. Nevertheless, it should be noted that many are the times that femme fatales are women who just tend to imply that they are victims of circumstances abut are well aware of that they are doing. This means that their intentions are always to take advantage of their unsuspecting victims.
Due to the rising need for women to rise up and cater for their families after the World War II, there was an utter need for directors of films to showcase the same in their productions. This is because film is a representation of the things that are going on in the world around us. This was hugely reflected in the Hollywood productions that were released immediately after the World War II. In the films and theatre productions that sought to portray the Femme Fatale, she was portrayed as a sexual vampire who intentionally used her charms to take advantage of her lovers, for example, and left them completely empty with nothing. Interestingly, most of the Femme Fatales were portrayed as being foreign and were mainly of Asian origin or from Eastern Europe.
These films that explored the characteristics of Femme Fatale were produced between the 1940s and 1950s. This period when the films were produced was referred to as the film noir. In the 1944 film, Double Indemnity, an insurance salesman becomes victim of a Femme Fatale, Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck). Phyllis seduces the salesman such that they come up with a plan to kill her husband and they hope to earn the from the insurance policy cover that her husband holds through the interpretation of the double indemnity clause. This is an illustration of how a woman uses her sexual allure in order to get what she desires.
In the 1946 film, Gilda, the issues of Femme Fatale are portrayed through the cabaret singer (Rita Hayworth). She manipulates her husband and his best friend sexually and ends up appearing like the victim in the entire story. From her actions, she gains what she wants and the men end up being at loggerheads.
Through watching these films, certain things remain evident. The femme fatale is not the desired example of what a woman should be like. This is because she is meant to be a role model to her children. The behavior portrayed by the Femme fatales in the films discussed above does not fit the morally accepted woman in the society. This is the era of modernism and there is no differentiation of individuals in terms of their role in society based on their sex. Women rights have long been appreciated as human rights. This is because every person has a democratic right to get involved in the activities that they wish provided that they do not cause any harm. Modernism states that people should rise and take up those issues that they think best bring out who they are in reality.
However, it should be noted that there is need to remain desirable by conforming to societal values in the undertakings that one decides to take. It should also be noted that there is no excuse for wild behavior. This is because some people would tend to think that the femme fatales had their own reasons for behaving in such a manner. It should be noted that it is extremely important for one to enjoy only those things that they have toiled for. This means that it is very unacceptable for people to make assumptions that femme fatales also have their own innocent reasons for their behavior. From the films, it was evident that the femme fatale ended up suffering the consequences of their actions. This is an indication that there is no evil deed that goes unpunished.
Lastly, interventions must be transformative in the way they address of gender and related social interactions that women and men perspective be taken into account to examining gender norms in a new way of encouraging equitable power relation in decision making process. Therefore, it is extremely crucial that women’s movements act decisively and quickly during the transition period in order to leverage themselves from the status quo male-dominated lives and worlds. However, if they are not affirmative in their actions, it is obvious that they will be by passed by the inception of democracy.
In order to do away with marginalization of women in any society, it is extremely crucial to be part of the larger community. This implies that there is need for interaction with the rest of the society comprising mainly of men. This is because it is amongst them that issues of gender inequality will be raised. Fighting for gender equality does not imply that there should exist bad blood between men and women. This is because it will only be the beginning of another problem after solving that of gender inequality. Cooperation should be enhanced irrespective of the divergence in views. This will ensure that femme fatales cease and everyone enjoys their space peacefully.