Re: RARA-AVIS: Marlowe

From: Schooley (
Date: 30 Aug 2001

Mark Sullivan wrote:

> While I'm not sure I agree that the man walking down the mean streets
> who is not himself mean is as outmoded a figure as you do (although I
> can't immediately think of any current examples), I do think you are
> dead on about prudishness being a major factor in Marowe's views about
> women (although they get a little bit better over the series).

I don't know why we keep pussyfooting around this subject. Marlowe was a prude, but when it came to women he, like Spade and many of their contemporaries were mysogenists. The strong women in Chandler's books, and Maltese Falcon and Spillane's yarns were either femme fatales or overlooked.

In the context of the time, women with goals outside the kitchen usually had to manipulate men in order to achieve those goals. Tough guys with power resented that and only played along until it threatened their independence. Or they used the women from the start. Marlowe and Spade didn't trust this type of woman, and were blind to the existence of any other type.

Imperviousness to conniving women is a male fantasy, as much as shooting your way out of problems. And just because many women now enjoy the fantasy of direct, violent action and dominant sex, or now feel more comfortable admitting it, doesn't necessarily make the fantasy any less attractive to men. It's a fantasy, see. Means I wouldn't have to take out the garbage when I'm told.

These stereotypes may be too outdated to write about anymore (though Ellroy seems to get away with it by writing "historical" fiction) but they still make for a good read.

Kerry (with a "K")

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