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Secretary

Last weekend I watched "Secretary," Steven Shainberg's film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee Holloway, a recently hired secretary for James Spader's character, Mr. E. Edward Grey, a "mysterious lawyer." The employer/employee relationship is quickly broken down, as the characters' mutual feelings for each other are exposed.

Because of the Feminist Film Studies course, I found myself analyzing "Secretary" in ways I would not have done before. For example, I noticed that Mr. Grey was often the voyeur, staring at Lee from around a corner, peeking out his head so he could gaze at her but she didn't always notice him. This power of looking that he has over her reinforces the power he has over Lee as both her boss, and as the dominant character in the dominant/submissive relationship they forge.

I also noticed that at the end of the film, when the two have reconciled and are back at Mr. Grey's house, Lee is, for much of this portion, naked, while Mr. Grey is fully dressed, or at the most, briefly shirtless. Looking back, I think Lee's nakedness reinforced her vulnerability, because people who are nude lack the protection and power of clothes. This choice of wardrobe (or lack of it) also reinforces a typical mandate of today's media: a woman will often be seen naked, but a man rarely will.

Comments

I agree with you, but in terms of BDSM, a lot of theorists would argue that the submissive is the person in the position of power because they allow the dominant person to dominate them (for example, when Lee calls "Time out!" during their hiring play). I agree that the movie is sort of didactic about the representation, but I think there is typically a very conscious power play taking place in S/M relationships.

I think these observations are accurate, but I also find them to be obvious. I'm a little concerned, however, about what you are implying. Is it bad that Gyllenhall appears nude? Is domination and submission bad? It seems to me that this is essentially a love story about people who have found their true identities as well as each other. The power relationship is pretty abmiguous, especially since we're talking about a sex game here. I maintain that all rules are off as far as the bedroom is concerned.

Thats a good movie.

How do you explain the director's justification for the ending scenes that the full nakedness represents her fully becoming a woman instead of the quasi-child she was in the beginning (remember there was a scene at the beginning where they could have shown nudity, but they chose to put some kind of milk-like bubble bath in the tub).

I love to watch Steven Shainberg's films.

"How do you explain the director's justification for the ending scenes that the full nakedness represents her fully becoming a woman instead of the quasi-child she was in the beginning (remember there was a scene at the beginning where they could have shown nudity, but they chose to put some kind of milk-like bubble bath in the tub)."

I don't.

No choices made by an artist needs to be "justified". Justice is not the goal of art.

that's good movie
i Mostly Like
Steven Shainberg's films.

In cases like this, we need to have good communication skills so that we can speak up of what is really going on. We can avoid reaching far as this situation if from the start we have avoided it.

Good communication skills is very important in the workplace. With it, we can develop good working relationships with our co-workers or supervisors.

I like this movie.. not communication skills ;)

I feel the best way of enjoying life is to frequently reflect on what you've done. Obviously some people will disagree with me on that, but that's the great thing about life, you don't have to agree with anything.