Dangerous women. What is there not to like? Maybe the whole using their sexuality to try and get you killed? Like I said what is there not to like? I appreciate the dangerous part (it’s in the name), but the excitement, the sexuality and the temptation are all appealing in their own right. If only because of our voyeuristic pleasure in watching and imagining being the victim of a femme fatale without any of the unpleasant consequences, you know, like death.
The femme fatale is a distinctive character who has been around for centuries. You could argue the combination of sex, danger and temptation is evident in Eve and Lilith before her. Lilith, sometimes Lamia, has appeared in various forms of fiction as a very dangerous woman, whether you are looking at George MacDonald’s novel Lilith or 19th century pre-Raphaelite paintings. If you go even further back, there is evidence that the femme fatale was part of pre-Christian pagan religions and then there is, of course, the Hindu goddess Kali.
The attraction of the femme fatale for a guy is pretty straightforward, but why has the character been so interesting to women as well? I think it is the nature of the transgression, being someone we are told we are not supposed to be and having the power of life and death over others, particularly men. The femme fatale in many ways functions as a reverse James Bond; girls want to be her, boys want to be with her or at least be dominated by her, have her tempt, seduce and put them in harms way.
In celebration of the femme fatale, I am starting a series of blogs discussing different incarnations of the femme fatale in fiction, mostly literary fiction, some pulp fiction and a measure of film for good measure.
(Interestingly enough the plural of femme fatale is femmes fatales, I know, that crazy French language.)
There is a going to some Sphinx, Nana, Dolores, Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Lady Audley, Carmillla, Xenia Onatoppa and much more. To start us off, the first femme fatale blog will focus on Ayesha, the title character of H. Rider Haggard’s novel, She (sometimes known as She-who-must-be-obeyed). Watch out, if you are not there, she is not going to be pleased.Embed from Getty Images