Monday, December 17, 2018

Femmes Fatales

I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way.

I’m not as much of a noir writer as I’m sometimes accused of credited with being. For example, I’ve never written a femme fatale novel.* Femmes fatales are a staple of noir and have provided bestselling material ever since the Bible. It’s perpetually fertile ground. (At least as long as it’s done properly.)

Femmes fatales are somewhat in disfavor in the era of #metoo. I understand why, but respectfully disagree. (Again with the caveat “the story needs to be done right.”) There is a perceived undertone of misogyny in stories that draw their existence from the concept of a duplicitous woman leading a good man to his demise. There’s more than that to it, though. As the great W.C. Fields once said, “You can’t cheat an honest man.” The key thing femme fatale stories have in common are strong women and men who are weak (at best) or low-lifes (more likely and more believable). Say whatever you want about the woman’s character, but a characteristic all femmes fatale share is a distinct lack of frailty.

Since time immemorial men have taken what they want from women by force. A femme fatale turns that same desire against the man to take what she wants by wit and wile. What a good femme fatale story is really about is how a clever woman can use a man’s willingness to be led around by his dick to her advantage.

This makes her neither better nor worse than a man who uses a woman’s weaknesses against her. But that’s what equality is all about.

Isn’t it?

*--I’ve never written a femme fatale novel—not that I won’t ever, who knows?—but the first story I ever got paid for was one. (“Green Gables,” published in the third Thuglit anthology, Blood, Guts, and Whiskey.)

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