Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Esmeralda and Who is to Blame

Women seduce men. Women are flowers, lovely and fragrant, to which men can only flock like bees. That woman! That temptress! She lured him away from his wife, and stole him away. These are common attitudes toward women, both now and in the past. So often, throughout society's history, women have been seen as the undoing of men; their downfall. The history in cinema of the femme fatale shows this well enough; going back in history, it is a shame to see that many have condemned the Bible's Bathsheba as being at fault in the story of her husband's death, rather than David(the murderer himself). In the news recently, a young man was convicted of raping one of his fellow classmates at Steubenville University. To my disappointment, I encountered a number of people defending the rapist, complaining that the young woman had dressed too provocatively, that she should not have gotten drunk. "Dumb slut," "stupid tease," and "crybaby" were terms I heard all too often when any discussion of attitudes toward rape in American society was brought up. What did she expect, dressed like that? What did she expect, drinking like that? Even going to the wrong neighborhood can provoke such responses in the case of an attack, and, unfortunately, to escape this kind of blaming a female would have to simply avoid being female in public. This is what comes to mind, for me, when looking at Claude Frollo's treatment of and attitude toward Esmeralda in Notre Dame de Paris. Frollo sees her as a test, something sent by the devil. Esmeralda is there to tempt him; she is, inherently, by being around him and by being an attractive female, making herself a hazard to him. This attitude is well in line with the attitudes that Frollo would encounter in the religious circles he encountered at the time. This attitude of blaming attractive women for tempting men into doing things they normally would not is shown again when Frollo attempts to turn Esmeralda in to the police for the crime that he himself committed, showing by his actions that he blames her for his intense attraction to her. Naturally, this is not the case, as she has done nothing to attempt to attract him. However, this attitude of his shows the attitude of victim blaming that is sadly still present in our culture today.

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