This is a Wednesday Research Trivia post.
“The curve is more powerful than the sword.” Mae West
Why I’m researching this topic
I was writing a series of Romantic-Suspense stories about a group of investigators in the world of art crime. The third book was to be about Sebastian Wilde, one of my favorite characters in the series. A warrior type, he needed a strong woman who could stand up to him and cause him a little mischief. I decided he needed a femme fatale. Enter Sadie Stewart.
A Single Woman… A Double Life
I liked their developing love story so much I decided to make it into a series – The Mata Hari Series.
What did I know about les femmes fatale? I had a black and white image of them in my mind. Long hair, curvey, Film Noir vixens with a cigarette in their hand and devilish intents in their cold hearts. I wanted to know more about them.
“I’m a woman of very few words, but lots of action.”
My question became:
Are femmes fatale a real archetype in the human psyche, or are they a misogynistic label for women, not afraid of their sexuality?
“Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”
According to Wikipedia a femme fatale,
“… is a stock character of a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She is an archetype of literature and art. Her ability to entrance and hypnotise her victim with a spell was in the earliest stories seen as being literally supernatural; hence, the femme fatale today is still often described as having a power akin to an enchantress, seductress, vampire, witch, or demon, having power over men.
The phrase is French for “fatal woman.” A femme fatale tries to achieve her hidden purpose by using feminine wiles such as beauty, charm, and sexual allure… Although typically villainous, or at least morally ambiguous, … femmes fatales have also appeared as antiheroines in some stories, and some even repent and become true heroines by the end of the tale. Some stories even feature benevolent and heroic femmes fatales who use their wiles to snare the villain for the greater good.”
So it seems the archetype of the femme fatale can be found in the earliest recorded stories, and go back to the myths and folklores of all cultures. Have men always been intimidated by strong women? Or is there more complexity to this archetype? Next Wednesday I’ll look at ancient examples of les femmes fatale.
“The best way to behave is to misbehave.”
The problem with doing research is I get mega-distracted. If you watch this You Tube clip, you’ll understand why. It’s so easy to get carried away.
Note: all Mae West quotes came from this site.