Last Monday night I got a call from a guy I’ve been seeing. I picked up the phone to the question: “So, you know how all women are conniving?” and subsequently participated in a conversation in which I was informed that I, as a woman, was deep down exactly like Amy Dunne, and because of that fact he would never trust me. I wasn’t, and am still not, entirely sure how to respond to that conversation. Sure, he was joking, but the conversation made me question if the movie was really that intensely disturbing.
Yesterday, I saw Gone Girl for myself. No, I did not read the book. But, I’m assuming that the majority of the population seeing and making enormous generalizations about the female sex based on it did not take the time to thoroughly research the work. So, I will confidently proceed with the following: Screw Amy. That’s it. Screw her, and her alone—no, not all women, just her, because she as an individual sucks. Yes, Amy is a sociopath, yes she’s manipulative, yes she’s absolutely horrible. But those qualities don’t come from her identity as a woman. They come from the fact that she as a person is completely psychotic.
The issue with characters like Amy, who I will add is a complete rip off of John Steinbeck’s Cathy from his novel East of Eden, is that they perpetuate neurotic ideas of women that are buried in our society—that women are manipulative, that they use people, and most importantly that they use their sexuality to do it. Perhaps what is most scary about the femme fatale is that she’s not just a murderer, or just crazy. It’s that she seems innocent, oh, and sexy. Yeah, she’s always sexy. And she always uses her sexuality to get what she wants. Maybe this is extra scary for men because sex is so personal—the idea that while in the midst of the most intimate act you can perform with someone the other person involved isn’t what they appear to be is terrifying.
But this is a societal issue in how we view the female sex; women are sexual objects, and to use that in a negative way, to manipulate the system instead of living up to the female part is disturbing to us. Even the fact that the femme fatale has to be sexy reflects how twisted society is on how it sees women—where is the No Country for Old Men female murderer? Is there a character in existence who is both female and essentially asexual? No. Because a woman can’t be separated from her sexuality.
Moreover, many people have been questioning why it’s such a big deal—why be upset over Amy? Isn’t feminism strong enough to support something like this? Well the answer is no, quite frankly. The fact that the feminism fight has gone on as long as it has speaks to this. The reality is that when I watch a movie about a serial killer, like Silence of the Lambs, I don’t think to myself, “Wow I’m never speaking to a man again. He might put me in a pit and then make a suit out of my skin. I’m just not willing to take that risk.” But in my personal experience, and in the experience of millions of others, that is the male reaction to Amy.
Women as a whole have to pay for the mistakes of one woman whereas men have the luxury of society dismissing a bad guy as just that, a bad guy. Amy, though, with her constant false rape accusations and her elaborate schemes to punish the men who wrong her, will create further doubt within society as to women’s honesty. By being a false victim, Amy encourages our society to doubt the victim, to blame her. What I want to say, though, is this: though Amy is by no means without blame in inspiring worse conditions for women in society, she has revealed negative societal reactions to women that we must change. The fact that it takes one fictional villainous woman to create a dialogue that suddenly labels all women as sociopaths is an affront to our intelligence as human beings. So yeah, blame Amy, but stop blaming all women.
Photo credit: imdb.com