Her Absence Is Healthy

The Independent‘s Sheila Johnson observes that the femme fatale has all but disappeared from screens. The last time there was a crop of such roles was in ’80s and ’90s films like Body Heat, Blood Simple, Basic Instinct, The Last Seduction, etc. I think the lack of femme fatales is a result of men’s maturing attitudes about women, since the original femme fatales of 1940s film noir were misogynist fantasies rooted in male loathing of women due to envy of their tremendous power.

“Personality Disorder and the Femme Fatale,” an essay by Scott Snyder, states in its summary that “the type of character pathology personified in the femme fatale may be viewed as representative of certain misogynistic conceptualizations of the women of [the late '40s and '50s]. Concurrently, these screen women may have helped to create a certain cultural image for some real-life women of the 1940s and 1950s as reflected in the areas of fashion and style, personality, and social status.”