Femme Fatale

Have you ever known a femme fatale?

I watched a streaming video on someone who was widely considered one: Christine Keeler. She was the attractive teen at the centre of the Profumo Affair in the UK decades ago. 

Christine had an affair with the British Minister of War John Profumo. He lied to Parliament about their relationship, and she sold the true story to a newspaper. Profumo’s political career ended abruptly. 

Christine also had two ex-boyfriends who went to prison for attacking her when she refused to go back to them. Her closest male friend suicided during his trial for prostituting her. It appears he never made a cent from her, but he did use her to make social inroads with rich and powerful men. 

In thinking about Christine’s adventures, I wondered whether there is a name for a male equivalent to a femme fatale. Nope. Let’s create one, in French: homme fatale

If we apply homme fatale to the men we read about in the news, the fatale part becomes literal. Many men kill their female romantic partner in Australia and throughout the world. 

The U.S. is currently gripped by the tragic story of Gabby Petito. This young woman was found dead in a national park after her beau returned home from their camping trip without her. He refused to talk with police and then disappeared.

Christine Keeler knows the risk of being victimised by a man. Christine’s father abandoned the family when she was young. As a child she was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend and his pals.  

Almost every man Christine knew used or abused her. It was mainly men who applied the term femme fatale to her. 

The Bible has its own women who might fit the category of femme fatale. Remember Delilah? She was the love interest of strongman Samson, who told her his strength came from his hair. She sold that information to his enemies, who cut his hair and took him prisoner. 

When I think of the biblical Delilah, I hear Tom Jones singing Why, why, why, Delilah?

I wish I knew why — regarding Delilah and all the Christine Keelers of the world. I will turn to another song, by Jimmy Buffett, for a possible explanation:

Wastin’ away again in MargaritavilleSearching for my lost shaker of saltSome people claim that there’s a woman to blameBut I know, it’s my own damn fault.


Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash

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