“Come you spirits unsex me!”: representations of the female executive in recent French film & fiction
Lane, Jeremy F. (2015) “Come you spirits unsex me!”: representations of the female executive in recent French film & fiction. Modern and Contemporary France, 23 (4). pp. 511-528. ISSN 1469-9869
This article analyses the representation of female executives in a corpus of French films and novels produced from 2000 on. The corpus includes a mixture of male and female directors and novelists, all of whom adopt broadly centre-left or left-wing positions that are highly critical of contemporary forms of globalised, neo-liberal capitalism. Yet each of these directors and novelists depicts powerful female executives in highly conservative terms, figuring them as ‘unsexed’ beings who have turned their backs on their ‘natural’ destinies as wives and mothers. Further, these films and novels all imply that neo-liberal capitalism could be defeated if women were just to return to their traditional roles as wives and mothers and if the patriarchal nuclear family could once again perform its proper role as the foundation of community and national integrity. The corpus thus offers depictions of a range of powerful women who are, alternately, punished, pitied, or tamed. This being the price that must apparently be paid, if French national integrity is to be preserved from what are figured as the inherently foreign forces of globalised capitalism. Having offered an inventory of these deeply conservative tropes, the article concludes by suggesting some possible reasons for their dispiriting recurrence.
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