Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Look, I Bleed

Do you bleed?
-Katharine Ross as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives.

Trailer for The Stepford Wives (1975)

Turner Classic Movies showed the original version of The Stepford Wives last week and I just got around to watching it yesterday. It's a little slow but still a very creepy movie. Some of the chilling scenes include ( You may want to stop here if you have not seen the movie yet. Although I found it more nerve racking to watch because I already knew the plot.):

-Joanna's husband taking the family dog for a walk and "accidentally" running into his neighbor and then saying to him (about the neighbor's wife), "She cooks as good as she looks, Ted."

Then they both exchange knowing smiles, which doesn't make sense at the time since Joanna and he have only been in town a few hours at this point.

-The next day Joanna's two girls get onto a school bus filled with perfectly dressed children; boys in jackets and ties, girls in almost party dresses. That is a bit odd but the creepy thing is, all are sitting quietly in their seats with blank looks on their faces.

-Joanna's husband crying and telling Joanna that he does love her even though he knows he is going to have her killed and then replaced with a robot.

-Dale Coba (Great name. I have Paula Abdul's song Cold Hearted playing in my head right now. He's a cold-hearted snake, Look into his eyes, Oh ohhh, He's been tellin' lies), the man who has planned all this and is building the robots, saying to Joanna as she making coffee, " I like to watch women doing little domestic chores."

I bet you do, you sexist s.o.b.

-Joanna's robot double coming to kill her.

But the scene that sent an electrical shock through me was when Joanna, after realizing her best friend Bobbie is now a robot, stabs her to prove it. What is amazing about this scene is that right before Joanna stabs Bobbie she cuts her own finger and, while showing Bobbie the blood, says, "Look, I bleed. Do you bleed?"

Then she plunges the knife into Bobbie abdomen, right where her womb should be, proving that in no way are these robots real women and also showing the reason why all this is happening.

The men are afraid of losing control of their wives but underlying this fear, and taking advantage of it, is Dale Coba's own pathological fear and jealousy of women and their ability to give birth. In Cobra's mind the ability to give birth is the source of women's power. By building his own women he has shown he is just as, or even more powerful, than they are. His answer to Joanna, when she asks why the men are doing this is "Because we can" but what he really means is because "he" can. Once all the women are gone no one will be left to challenge that power.

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