Monday, October 15, 2007

MARNIE and the (im)balance of gender power (Thoughts on MARNIE, Part 2)

As I see it, Alfred Hitchcock's MARNIE is very much about the (im)balance of power between the sexes that leads to the idealization/hatred paradox. Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) held all the power cards and used them to blackmail his "prey," Marnie, into marrying him. Ultimately, he used his power for good. He forced her to confront her demons, to make amends for her crimes and to, frankly, grow the hell up. He put his fortune and his reputation on the line to do this. Such use of power can easily be identified as love. Yet, he resented her at the same time. He couldn't tolerate her sexual unavailability and he raped her. In a narrow sense, he hated Marnie (or, at least, certain dominant traits) while also loving her.

For her part, Marnie's thievery is clearly motivated by her hatred of men: stealing their money is her way of emasculating men, and it goes stratight back to the power play her mother engaged in as a prostitute, exchanging female (sexual) power for male (financial) power. She hates Mark for forcing her into marriage and putting her through the subsequent treatment. But she saw that he was using his power to help her and she appreciated it. Given time, she might have come to love him.

Mark stripped Marnie of whatever power and freedom she might once have had. He had "the goods" on her past and she was under virtual house arrest – in a home not of her choosing. The only thing left that was hers and hers alone was her high-octane sexuality. Under the circumstances, even a healthy woman would be disinclined to "put out." Considering Marnie's backstory, ballcrsuhing abstinence was a foregone conclusion.

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