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.