Women are generally presented as easily manipulated and too emotional to be true villains. It is yet another characterization of the “soft” woman, dictated by her emotions, propelled by a propensity to nurture rather than destroy. But we need stories of women who hunger for power, who are willingly selfish, and who stick to their principles, no matter the cost. … No more scenes of men talking women into saving the world. Let them try their best to destroy it.
The femme fatale, then, embodies noir’s obsession with death – not only its inevitability but also its allure. Unlike the male hero, who strives to defy fate at every turn, the femme fatale is acutely aware of her vulnerability. As scholar Elisabeth Bronfen posits, she “accepts her death as the logical consequence of her insistence on a radical pursuit of personal freedom,” embracing ruin rather than wallowing in denial. It isn’t passivity so much as cynicism; as a woman in a patriarchal society, she’s familiar with the limits of autonomy and has no illusions of grandeur or righteousness.