Breaking tradition in gender roles
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08
The Rainbow Cinema recently showed a subtitled movie entitled “Aimee & Jaguar” depicting a whirlwind World War II romance between two women. One of them is Felice Schragenheim, a clever undercover journalist who changed her name in order to remain in Berlin, even as Jews such as herself were being hunted, and Lilly Wust, the romance-obsessed wife of a Nazi officer.
The film chronicles Felice and Lilly’s relationship, and how it plays out despite the war going on, and the two women’s vastly dissimilar personalities. Felice is much more of a free spirit, and bounces from Ilse (Lilly’s housekeeper, whose family has communist ties and is hiding Felice from the Gestapo—although they throw her out once they realize Felice is a lesbian) to Lilly throughout the movie. Lilly, on the other hand, is desperate for the affection she does not get, which is a direct consequence from her husband’s affairs and habit of fighting on the front line. However, Lilly occasionally feels lonely when Felice leaves her for days at a time; she has no idea that Felice, is, in fact, Jewish and trying to arrange for herself and her friends to leave the country.
The movie also deals with traditional gender roles and sexism in the 1940s. Gunther tells Lilly (after being seen kissing Ilse after the New Year’s Eve party) that she “can’t possibly imagine the temptation…men are more susceptible to desire than women…It doesn’t mean anything, but I can’t stop.” This correlates with the viewpoint that women somehow did not have affairs or feel lust quite as keenly as their male counterparts (or at all), although Lilly proceeds to have a much more intense sexual relationship with Felice than she ever did with Gunther. When she has sex with Gunther, she stares at him flatly and moves almost mechanically. With Felice, she cannot stop shaking and neither can her partner, to which Felice says jokingly “It’s a trembling contest!”
The employees of the Rainbow Center held a discussion after the film, where they concentrated on particular parts of the movie. The events behind Felice’s betrayal were left ambiguous; it was never clear who told the Gestapo—was it Lilly’s mother, who watched them with a sour expression? Was it Gunther, Lilly’s ex-husband, who was bitter from the divorce Lilly had insisted upon? Was it Felice’s boss at the newspaper? Chris Richard, a 6th-semester and employee of the Rainbow Center, mentioned that Gunther was the embodiment of “the typical dominant masculine mindset” which demands that the female sexuality isn’t as broad or developed as the male’s and so, is therefore much less important.
The Rainbow Center shows a film that covers LGBT and/or gender-related issues every Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.