Femme Fatale

Sky           -        Earth
Father       -        Mother
Culture      -        Nature

Daemonic archetypes of woman, filling world mythology, represent the uncontrollable nearness of nature. Their tradition passes nearly unbroken from prehistoric idols through literature and art to modern movies.

The primary image is the femme fatale, the woman fatal to man. The more nature is beaten back in the west, the more the femme fatale reappears, as a return of the repressed. She is the spectre of the west’s bad conscience about nature. She is the moral ambiguity of nature, a malevolent moon that keeps breaking through our fog of hopeful sentiment.

The femme fatale is one of the most mesmerizing of sexual personae. She is not a fiction but an extrapolation of biologic realities in women that remain constant.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.13

I have been speaking of assaults of male on female. But some of The Faerie Queene’s boldest sexual aggressors are the licentious femmes fatales [...]

Their greatest power is in womblike closed spaces, in bedchambers, groves, and caves like the leafy grotto of Homer’s Calypso, where the male is captured, seduced, and infantilized. Spenser’s great word for such places is “bower,” both garden and burrow. Embowerment is one of The Faerie Queene’s primary processes, a psychological convolution of entrancement, turning the linearity of quest into the uroboros of solipsism.

Spenser’s femmes fatales tempt their male victims and paramours away from the pursuit of chivalric honor into “lewd sloth”—languid indolence and passivity [...] The rule of The Faerie Queene is: keep moving and stay out of the shade. The penalty is embowerment, sterile self-thwarting, a limbo of lush pleasures but stultifying passivity.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.187-9

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