Gender Roles in The Thomas Crown Affair

Gender roles and expectations are societal norms that determine the appropriate behaviors and characteristics for people to follow based on their gender. Under the U.S. Constitution men and women have equal rights, however; each gender is appointed different roles that match their traits and satisfy the societal expectations.

Nevertheless, these trends are changing regarding advertisements. The advertising industry sells more than just products, it sells ideas, images, and sexuality. Through the naked female bodies in ads, women are brainwashed to pursue power through their beauty and sexuality, which is acceptable by the society, but if men were to do the same thing and seek power through revealing their bodies in a seductive way; that becomes somewhat inappropriate and offensive.

Susan Bordo’s “Beauty Rediscovers the Male Body” challenges the concept of gender expression and sexuality such as how women are stereotypically portrayed as sexual objects and their nudity in ads has become habitual, whereas the male nudity is considered overexposure that is scorned and refused by the society.

The Thomas Crown Affair film offers Catherine Banning as an example of the strong, independent woman who has a high self confidence and is willing to use any means to do her job and return the stolen painting, unlike how women are typically viewed by the American society.

The film The Thomas Crown Affair uses Catherine Banning as a symbol of feminism. Banning is an example of an efficacious and financially stable woman, who does not typically fit the stereotypical view of women being delicate, and dependent on their men.

Being successful in her job as a detective, Banning was feeling self sufficient, so she did not care about having a man in her life because she believed that “Men make women messy” (The Thomas Crown Affair).

Banning was trying to get the stolen painting back to earn money, and she was not embarrassed to reveal that to MaCann “I’m here for the money, okay?” (The Thomas Crown Affair). She used her sexuality as an instrument to get closer to Crown, and did not really pay attention to what the people would say about her relationship with Crown; and when McCann criticized her “You don’t care what that makes you?” She replied “Are you gonna be a cliche?” (The Thomas Crown Affair).

McCann believed what Banning was doing was basically prostitution, she was selling her body not for money, but for information to get the stolen painting back. The society views women like Banning as harlots and prostitutes, but surprisingly, men are not viewed the same way when they do the same thing. That is an example of the double standards the society uses to treat people based on their gender.

Catherine Banning was one of her kind. She was very intelligent and knew how to manage the situations to work in her best interest. When she went out with Crown, she was quick enough to steal his keys and duplicate them without him feeling.

Because she was financially stable, she had things other than money to care about in the man she will be with like how he looks like. She also was not that kind of shy woman, she actually hit Crown on his butt in one scene; and was topless in other scenes, even Crown told her, “You are a very remarkable woman” (The Thomas Crown Affair).

In our society, it would be offensive and inappropriate if women do such things. Although she kept resisting getting attracted to Crown, she could not hide her love and jealousy when she saw Anna in his bedroom. Even though she was a strong, extraordinary independent woman, she still had her feminine, loving nature within her which dominated in the end, and made her truly fall in love with Crown.

Sometimes what the society allows men to do, is not necessarily acceptable if done by women. In “Beauty Rediscovers the Male Body” Susan Bordo argues that the nude male body was not used in advertising in the past, because it was considered inappropriate and offensive.

People were only used to seeing women in nude photography and advertisements, which makes it controversial because of the double standards the society uses to judge women. Bordo claims that unlike the nude male body that is not typically used in a sexual content, the naked female body is considered “an object of mainstream consumption” (131).

She declares that the nude male body is just starting to be used as “commercial representation” (132). Bordo reveals how men feel when they are being gazed at, surprisingly to many readers men actually feel embarrassed even more than women when they are being gazed at, because they feel that they’re not the ones in control; which was not really the case with Crown.

Bordo claims that the gaze and the posture of men in advertisements “face up, face down, and stare down” (182) can show their masculinity and dominance. Crown was very arrogant and had high self confidence, so he did not show any insecurity in his nude and intimate scene with Banning. The position of the camera made him seem dominant and superior.

Susan Bordo discussed how women in the Industrial Revolution were supposed to be a source of comfort and beauty to their husbands. The Industrial Revolution framed the woman to be “expected not only to provide a comfortable, well ordered home for men to return to but to offer beauty, fantasy and charm for a man” (158). Bordo claimed that unlike

men, women get power from being gazed at, because it lets them use their seductive nature and help them to persuade men to do what they want. Bordo pointed out that to straight men caring about how one looks is considered a feminine characteristic and worrying about too much is simply viewed as being gay, like was shown in one of the pictures Bordo used in her essay “I am damn well gonna wear what I want” (151).

This reinforces the idea that a true man does not really worry about what he wears and how he looks. An example from The Thomas Crown Affair film would be how detective Michael McCann does not have the time to worry about what he wears and these silly things, which could be the reason why Banning refused to go out with him.

On the other hand, Crown was a handsome man who cares about how he looks and always dresses nicely, which could be why Catherine Banning got attracted to him. Susan Bordo mentioned how women get the feeling of colors and what matches what a lot earlier in their lives than men.

In conclusion, gender roles are different and the society uses different standards for each gender. Women are now allowed to do things, they were never allowed to do in the past; and the same thing is true for men. The film The Thomas Crown Affair and Susan Bordo’s “Beauty Rediscovers the Male Body” contradict society’s stereotypical view of men and women.

The film showed that there are women like Catherine Banning in real life who can do anything to get what they want. Bordo showed how male nudity is not acceptable by the society and is considered overexposure, whereas there is no problem with women nudity. Bordo also explained that men could get embarrassed when their body is being gazed at, because it could reveal their insecurities, which definitely was not the case with Thomas Crown.

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