Old Wives' Tales and Other Women's Stories by Tania Modleski

By Tania Modleski

Alerting readers to a physique of modern paintings that has long gone under-examined, Tania Modleski redraws in outdated better halves' stories the fringe of pop culture. A severe research of movies reminiscent of The Ballad of Little Jo, The Piano and Dogfight, outdated better halves' stories additionally takes up functionality, autobiographical event, and modern social concerns to demonstrate how women's genres mediate among us and fact. Modelski examines the adjustments happening in conventional women's genres, resembling romances and melodrama, and explores the phenomenon of woman authors and performers who "cross-dress"--women, that's, who're entering into male genres and staking out territory declared off-limits through males and by means of many feminists.

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5 Thus Williams continually uses the principles and language of contract law to expose the inequities of blacks and women in this system. (“Blacks have earned a place in this society,” she 25 BREAKING SILENCE , OR AN OLD WIVES ’ TA L E 26 argues in a defense of affirmative action programs. ) In moving between black and female ways of knowing and white men’s ways of knowing, Williams opens a space for whole new ways of knowing, which she gestures toward by using the literary language that Cornell calls for but does not herself employ: metaphors, allegories, fictional stories (which often read like folktales), etc.

3 Interestingly, the women I talked to who were enraptured by The Piano’s eroticism referred in particular to the way the film resembles women’s romances in building up slowly to the act of sex, depicting a kind of elaborate foreplay. Female spectators are also fond of pointing to the two scenes in which Ada, deprived of access to Baines, seeks out Stewart and strokes his body as he lies in bed, at the same time denying him access to her body. We might call these the film’s most politically correct moments of eroticism—moments Campion singles out to show how they involve a reversal of standard gender roles.

While the attribution of such naiveté to the Maoris may be problematic, what interests me here is how the representation does become “reality” within the film. The first time we see the Bluebeard motif is in rehearsal: the minister, who is to play Bluebeard, is demonstrating the scene to the maid who will play the wife/victim. 1. Holly Hunter (Ada) and Anna Pacquin (Flora) in Jane Campion’s The Piano. © 1993 by Miramax Films. on the hand. She, however, is riveted by the sight of the actual ax (though it is made of cardboard) and screams every time he attempts the blow.

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