Fatal Attractionexample Essay
Fatal Attraction as a rhetorical artifact affirms the experiences, values, and powers of men, and it presents woman as the other. The issue of gender is at the forefront of the entire conflict surrounding the movie. The film celebrates the concept of the conventional, nuclear family. It sexualizes and sentimentalizes the traditional wife, while villianizing the supposed feminist who attempts to ruin the patriarchal world of the husband. The message presented is that women who choose a career over family are not only unfeminine, but they are destructive forces that must be destroyed.
This movie clearly portrays femininity and masculinity through the eyes of hegemonic ideology. Almost immediately it is clear that Dan is not responsible for the outcomes of his affair with Alex. Through verbal and visual manipulation, the film quickly goes from being a tale of a husband’s betrayal of his family to a rant against the sexual, independent woman. As described in hegemonic femininity, the woman is seen as a caretaker, compassionate, a wife/mother/sister. Women cannot control their emotions, they stay at home and are married, and they are passive, non-aggressive, and emotional.
All of this is shown in the film. There is the good woman, Beth, the wife and caretaker, and then there is the estranged Alex, who is the bad woman ‘slut. ’ The male perspective is in the forefront, and the audience is made to see and feel things from a male perspective. Dan portrays hegemonic masculinity through being the providing powerful male role as the father. He has an affair and never pays the consequences of his actions and of course his wife takes him back afterwards. Fatal Attraction sanctifies the wife and mother who stays at home, while it vilifies the single, career woman. Alex is the antithesis of Beth.
Even at the beginning of the movie, Alex is portrayed as being extremely aggressive and predatory. She even has a man’s name. She has a high-powered job and is the only woman who attends the all-male meetings. Alex is highly sexual and alluring. Dan, on the other hand, is portrayed as just an innocent, fun-loving guy who falls into Alex’s trap. Beth is the picture of the perfect wife and mother. She adapts to Dan’s schedule, throws fabulous dinner parties, and spends time with her daughter. Beth is not, however, desexualized. She strolls around in her sexy underwear and sensually puts on makeup and lotion.
Still, her sexuality always goes unfulfilled – interrupted by the dog, the doorbell, or the telephone. Alex’s dialogue is encased in feminist rhetoric, especially when she demands that Dan accept responsibility for his role in her pregnancy. But she quickly becomes the picture of a hysterical woman, and her hysteria becomes more and more lethal as the movie continues. The messages in Fatal Attraction are clear. The stay-at-home mother/wife is desirable, while the single-working woman is damaged and wants to destroy the family that she secretly wishes she were a part of.