Fatal Attraction Essay

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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...
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