On Being a Femme Fatale

In On the Art of Femininity, I suggest that, in and of itself, the feminine is “enough.” That it represents a totality. One which seeks in its opposite not completion, but a full complement. As in the joining of two people, the intertwining of forces in an intimate relationship, another kind of wholeness. And one that is bound, not in spite of, but because of its differences. If it’s true (and I believe it is), that the aspects of the feminine experience I’ve described to date represent a “softer side,” then the facet I am about to discuss here is the darker, more alluring side of our consciousness. The siren song. The Medusa. The fire. The femme fatale. Which I envision as a kind of “yang” to more softly seductive feminine impulses, those marked chiefly by creativity, abundance, and aesthetic pleasure.

The femme fatale, as I see her, is both lover and destroyer. She is savage desire. Leather, red lipstick, tousled hair, and nothing underneath. She is the seductress. The one who wields sexuality (and knows it is in her power to turn it into a weapon). Not the one who wants to be wanted, but the one who wants. She is also the one who gets. The lioness. Leopard print heels. The femme fatale is silently bold and quietly ruthless.

She is like a huntress. Her power is in the flash of her eyes. The sway of her hips. The shade of her lipstick. Her smoothness. In some ways, she is a walking weapon. She is every woman who sets her sights on a man and utilizes all of her charm, all the maneuvers in her playbook, to get him right where she wants him. (And, all the better if he remains at least partially unaware.) Although, there may not be a particular man or woman she’s after, there usually is. She is, foremost, a mood. A shade of consciousness. The dark form of a woman’s lust. The femme fatale moves like a woman possessed by fire. Which is exactly what she feels like.

Her calling card reads something like Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus”:

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

For as desperately as I want you, for as deeply as I desire to pleasure you, there is a part of me that also wants to destroy you. To devour, as well as to be devoured. The femme fatale is hungry. She is alive. And, she wants to bring out the animal in you. She is Fiona Apple’s Criminal. Meg Myers’s Desire.

I do not believe that, except in some cases, the inner femme fatale is the primary face most women project, even when trying to capture the attention of a potential partner. If she reared her head too often, or represented too great a part of our personalities, I suspect she’d lead to imbalance and destruction. Chaos. She, rather, informs the authentic woman. Who must decide for herself when and how to exercise her prowess.

Which leads me to my final point. It occurs to me that this discussion of the femme fatale as an integral and natural part of the feminine brings me back to a questioning of values. The regulation of the inner Medusa, the destructive component of my sexuality. (I rather love her fire.) I believe the creative woman can not only discriminate, but more importantly, act as her own source of a connection to something greater. Can fashion a world in and for herself. So that what’s on the outside matches what’s on the inside. Until the woman and the universal reflect one another. Otto Rank said (something like) that. One of the highest forms of individual expression. Maybe neither Rollo May nor Jordan Peterson was wrong in his respective argument on the importance of values. Maybe, I’m just always afraid that if I align myself with something external (ideology or dogma or someone else’s rules), I threaten my individuality. My creativity. Which I value more than anything else in the world. But, maybe I don’t have to make that sacrifice. Maybe, I am really here creating my own world, rewriting my own values. (Did I not know that? I knew that.) Because when I started this blog with On the Art of Femininity one year ago, I was in need of some revision.

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