Hitchcock’s Misogyny

In the online review “What’s wrong with Hitchcock’s women” at Guardian.co.uk, the author was concluded that “Hitchcock’s women are outwardly immaculate, but full of treachery and weakness”, which sort of fit into the stereotypical femme fatale category. Lisa in Rear Window, however, seemed more “pampered” compared with heroines featured in other Hitchcock films. She does not experience or engage in any traitorous schemes or horrendous crime, nor does she suffer from bad luck, mental illness or a broken family. Her only setback in the film is falling in love with man who didn’t care for her, but who eventually does so at the end of the film. Thus Hitchcock didn’t do much to teach her a “thoroughly good lesson” besides punishing her (got caught by the murderer) toward the end of the film for her impulsive (yet brave) behavior. However, Hitchcock still managed to show his misogyny through Jeff’s, or rather, his own manipulation of Lisa’s fate in the film.

In the film, the protagonist Jeff admitted Lisa was beautiful, elegant and in essence, perfect. However, Jeff was not comfortable enough when Lisa was around and would not like to marry her. Jeff could be polite, and even interested, when there was a distance between him and the women around, who served as objects to look at, such as Miss Torso and Miss Lonely Hearts across the yard. However, when women tried to enter into his life, just what Lisa did, Jeff would become bothered and showed Lisa she was unwelcome. Perhaps Lisa’s powerfulness also caused Jeff’s resistance. Mulvey suggested that subconsciously men regarded women as incomplete beings after castration. However, when Lisa is outwardly perfect, popular and successful in her, Jeff nevertheless feel threatened (out of male hegemony) despite his contempt towards Lisa’s “incompleteness”. Lisa’s physical incompleteness seems to go with her other “insufficiency” in Jeff’s eyes. For example, her career in fashion industry is taken less seriously (“who thinks of life as new dress, lobster dinner and latest scandal”) when compared with Jeff’s adventurous career as a photojournalist, He thought Lisa was neither the same type of person he was nor able to engage in the career he had.

Jeff’s attitude simply represented Hitchcock’s attitude towards women. He admitted they were powerful, yet in industry he considered not serious enough, and thought they were not competent enough to engage in the same duties men committed to, unless they proved they could. That’s exactly how Lisa eventually won Jeff’s heart, by proving she can work alongside with him for the same objective, or in other sense, completely adopted his viewpoint and judgment, and managed to complete the task. Now that she proved she could be part of his world despite her “incompleteness”, he was ready to accept her into his world. What’s ironic about this ending, however, is that only after Lisa engaged in illegal behavior of breaking into someone else’s apartment that Jeff began to appreciate her. If Lisa remained graceful and innocent, Jeff couldn’t care less to look at her when there was something to look at across the yard. Thus Hitchcock’s attitude towards women is truly misogynistic because on one hand, he despised them for being who they are, and on the other hand, he despised them even more when women were willing to change for men, for women are still what they are, as the final scene of the film indicated.

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