Re: RARA-AVIS: Women who are men

Date: 03 Jul 2006

miker wrote:

"It might have been a popular plot back then [women exposed as men], and it's still dredged up occasionally. It was used by John Evans (I think I have the author's name right) in one of his Halo novels. It was fairly obvious and, like you, I thought it stupid."

Howard Browne writing as John Evans.

As for the gender shift plot, gender was becoming an increasingly contentious issue in the era of Spillane and Evans, although often in the other direction, that of women acting like men. During WW II, the Rosie the Riveter campaign told women they could, even should, do men's jobs in factories, but when the boys came home, new government ads told them to give up their newfound independence and return to the kitchen.

And, of course, part of the problem with femmes fatales is that they did not know their compliant place in society, that they acted like men. And the men they controlled were often emasculated, and unworthy of respect because of it. So it's not hard to see literal gender shifts as the exaggerated version of the more figurative battle.

I just watched the beautiful DVD reissue of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. It's amazing how good a look Russ Meyer gets on such a small budget. Anyway, . . .


It's got a deranged climax scene where a guy turns out to be a chick. As the threatened "Jungle Lad" says when "Superwoman" (as the drugged out Z-Man is now calling him/herself) rips open his/her ruffled shirt to expose breasts, "You've been a broad all along, a goddamn ugly broad." In the commentary, screenwriter Roger Ebert (yes, the movie critic) says that it just came to him as he and Meyer were writing the final scene, so there are no previous hints or foreshadowing of the final reveal. As brilliantly over the top and parodisitic as this movie is, the idea must have been floating around the pop culture of the time to just pop up and seem so right, work so well.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 03 Jul 2006 EDT