The “femmes fatales” who make fools of men
A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I!)
(Excerpt from the poem “The Vampire” by Rudyard Kipling)
First it was Eve with Adam in the Garden of Eden, then Delilah with Samson and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, with the ‘powerful’ men of Rome; Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.
The beautiful Cleopatra was so aggressive that she disregarded her brother’s claim to power, and the subordinate role women were supposed to play in politics. Her subsequent affairs with Julius Caesar and later Mark Anthony, enabled her to reclaim her throne, and ensured the survival and independence of Egypt. What some see as a noble act, others see as seductive manipulation.
The femme fatal is manipulative using her beauty and charm, to achieve her goals. She is depicted in soap operas as the ‘immoral’ seductress, not popular with other women, but admired by every man. The femmes fatales; emphatic Eve, deceptive Delilah and conniving Cleopatra; when they strike, men are left foolishly confused.
When she beckons, no man can resist her charm. In Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘The Vampire’; woman is likened to a ‘vampire’ who seduces a man and breaks his heart leaving him half-dead.
Her hold on men renders them powerless, and puts them in a trance. She is painfully beautiful, flawless and very erotic. Beneath this façade, lies a very lethal woman. Her toxicity is coated in sweetness, that makes honey taste sour.
This woman understands the male mind, more than men themselves do. She knows they are visual beings, and uses it to her advantage. While the male is mesmerized, she waits for the opportune moment to make her demands. She speaks a language that men understand too well; she speaks to the heart of a man. Most men fall helplessly in love with her, because she pushes all the right buttons.
Men have been seen as the stronger of the sexes. Well, only until he comes across this woman. When she comes along, a man becomes as Kipling referred to him, ‘a fool’. He is hypnotized and worships the ground she treads on, making him do as she wants. We must however remember that this man is human (Even as you and I)
In the Bible, another example of this power-wielding woman is seen in Salome (Herodias’ daughter). After dancing impressively for King Herod, she was asked what she wanted for a gift. In his ‘drunkenness’ he promised to give her anything she wanted, even half his Kingdom. Herod at the time was having an affair with Salome’s mother, who advised her to demand for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. And as sure as the sun sets in the west, she was given the Baptist’s head in a platter! See what happens when this woman is in control?
The independent woman,now a great threat to the traditional female gender roles, is slowly transforming into the femme fatale. This woman is untouchable, is put on a pedestal by every man, and can manipulate to achieve her goals. Now who wouldn’t want to be like her?
Stealthily a woman whom you thought was coy, becomes more assertive. They are careful not to become emotionally involved. They talk sweetly, are gentle, very kind and impeccably groomed. They do it so well that however much you try to tell her ‘subject’ that she is up to no good, you will never convince him. She makes men fall head over heals in love with her.This ‘stupefaction’ is what leads to his detriment.
They see an attractive woman, listen to her sweet words, and then they give in to steamy lust, crimson lips, and curvaceous hips. Just like that, they become delicious prey.
Roles are now reversed. The hunter is the hunted. The thrill of the chase is achieved, as the hunter pretends to be the prey. She lets him think that he is in control, that he is doing the hunting. All this time his fate has been sealed. It only remains for her to close in. She then makes her demands, and the man is too intoxicated not to oblige.
So men have their ‘players’. The smooth operator who breaks women’s hearts in his wake. Women on the other hand, have the femme fatale as their ‘Gendarme’. She evens the field, and makes men realize that when it comes to emotions, we all turn to pulp! Even as you and I.