Myths About Women

The class blog for English 104: Myths About Women
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Posts tagged "Mulholland Drive"
While several representations of women in Mulholland Drive could be identified as feminist, such as women working, living on their own, and lesbian involvement – all show independence from men, however, in reality, the way they are presented distorts true feminist values by equating violent behavior with freedom from gender restrictions.  As Diana Hume George argues in her piece Lynching Women, the depiction of violence against females likely encourages abuse within everyday American culture.  Within this film there are scenes that closely relate female sexualtiy and violence.   During Rita’s assassination attempt, a gun is pointed directly at her, while she is cornered in the back of a limo wearing an evening gown and heels.  As she stumbled away, David Lynch consciously made the decision to present her in a way where her clothing was more disheveled than her actual physical features.  A second example would be the death of several in car crash where men were driving and the women were sitting on top of the car screaming — they were not in control of their safety.  And also, the image of a woman shown dead in her bed, a symbol innately tied with female “duty”.  These are all examples of topics American film watchers are familiar with and yet, a closer look reveals that they incorporate elements which are demeaning.  Additionally, women are also shown as weak and naïve.  For example, right after her assassination attempt/car accident, Rita (who we later find out to be Camilla), completely disoriented, stumbles off the deserted road, through the woods, and into an empty house where she falls asleep.  Betty, another central female character, decides to move to California to try to get a break as an actress.  She finds Rita in her aunt’s house and does not question why she is there; she immediately assumes that she must be a friend of her aunt.  The way she speaks has clearly been scripted to be overly enthusiastic and naïve.  She became close with complete strangers during her plane ride; never does Lynch have her question the safety of a situation, she’s childlike.  

Another misogynistic characteristic of Lynch’s work is his oversexualization of women and tendency to comply with stereotypes.  Near the end of the film, when the audience can assume that action is no longer taking place in a dream, but in Diane’s reality, Camilla decides that they should not see each other anymore.  Now, in this scene both of the women are topless.  One of the few scenes in the movie where David Lynch has the women acting dominant in some way - making a relationship decision, and then going into a fight - they are unclothed.  Aspects of the film where their actions could be classified as more masculine, they are unclothed, thus, innately tying more aggressive, violent behavior, with sex.  At most other points of the movie, where they are not involved, their behavior is much more childlike.  By, firstly, presenting the women as childlike and naive and then tying in situations that involve violence and sex, it becomes very difficult for the audience to think of the characters (and arguably, everyday women) in any other way.  It becomes incredibly dangerous when people are bombarded with this from so many different sources that it is no longer questioned; violence against women has become so normalized that it rarely raises red flags anymore and resultantly women have become more subject to violence.  David Lynch does this subliminally, not overtly, the main theme of the film was not to draw attention to the way women are portrayed in film, rather this portrayal was used to aid in the larger picture, and that is how people become desensitized to the seriousness of this type of content.  As David Lynch said about his character Dorothy from Blue Velvet, “People have an idea that Dorothy was Everywoman, instead of just being Dorothy” (Breskin 63).  Lynch recognizes how easily the audience mixes reality and fiction.