The Revenge Narrative February 20, 2007Posted by kelly in Female Power, stereotypes.
I just wanted to quickly address the idea of the reveng narrative in female empowerment stories. Last semester I wrote a paper on female suicide bombers and found that despite evidence to the contrary, the actions of female suicide bombers were almost always attributed to revenge or other personal motivations, while male suicide bombers were usually said to have acted out of belief in a certain ideology or on behalf of their country/group. While this may have little to do with the films we have been studying, I think it’s interesting that any time a woman is empowered, it always has to do with something personal, and she is always acting out of emotions. In the case of Suzie, Neve Campbell’s character in “Wild Things,” despite her intelligence and desire to be wealthy and successful, her actions are attributed to her avenging the murder of her boyfriend. Once again, the idea that women are ruled by their emotions is enforced. A woman is only “evil” or powerful when she is acting upon her maternal instict to defend or avenge her loved ones, or perhaps even herself (in the case of “All Bad Girls Go to Hell”). Society refuses to believe that a woman can be as cold-blooded or calculated as a man for her own selfish reasons, there has to be an explanation within her supposed inherent nature as a caretaker and lover, not a fighter. Perhaps this is a tactic utilized to protect ideas of masculinity or male power. The revenge narrative essentially denies women the agency and responsibility men are given (or blamed for) in their crimes. I hope this makes sense!
Also (please excuse the pop culture reference):
I wanted to just suggest that you guys watch Justin Timberlake’s new video. It’s interesting because it depicts his girlfriend cheating on him (widely believed to be yet another portrayal of Britney Spears) and then the subsequent death (or perhaps murder) of her. These two events follow each other very closely and it seems that simply because the girlfriend is able to gain some power over him (using her sexuality and by cheating on him, with his best friend, which no doubt makes him seem less in control, she has gained power over two men and severed their male bond) she must die. She takes on the role of the femme fatale and in order to save his masculinity, Justin has to kill her so that he is not defeated by a woman. It kind of astounds me that there has been no real public outcry over how insane and ridiculous this video really is. I hope you’ll all take the time to watch it if you haven’t already seen it. I tried to embed it below…not sure if it worked…