I’m seeing so many posts comparing the cutting of Maleficent’s wings to rape or genital mutilation, along with commentary that the movie is anti-men, that I’m wondering: How might the movie change if Stefan had been Stefanie?
When violence in a narrative happens to a woman, must we think of her genitals? In the story of Samson and Delilah, she “puts him to sleep in her lap” and then cuts off the source of his strength– his hair. Is that a rape metaphor?
For me, Maleficent’s character is primarily a Fairy, a magical creature who happens to be female. Stefan is primarily a human who happens to be male.
Either way– if the violence is or is not a rape metaphor– clearly, the movie is about Maleficent’s recovery, so that’s the important thing. It’s just irritating to me because I’m so sick of watching women get raped on screen. To watch a movie and not have that experience, but then to see so many others have it, is frustrating.
So bear with me: consider the plot switch, from Stefan to Stefanie. For me, the structure of the narrative wouldn’t change much at all. I realize Maleficent falls in love with Stefan and receives her first kiss from him, but that aside, assuming she’s not gay, here’s how the plot would go– pretty much the same: The first thing Maleficent asks Stefan is if he’s a human or not. Maleficent’s attraction to Stefan had to do with his human-ness, not his man-ness.Humans live in a separate world than the magical world. That’s how the narrator introduces the whole story, and the difference between Maleficent and Stefan primarily as Fairy/ Human rather than woman/ man. Their relationship is primarily a dramatic friendship forged between two species who are supposed to fear and hate each other.
I’ve written about this before, but after his human-ness, Stefan is defined by his ambition: he steals in the first scene, and he says he wants to love in the castle. Easily, an ambitious human “Stefanie” could’ve played this part. “Stefanie” is then tasked by the king to kill “the winged creature.” Yet, when it comes to the moment of killing, she can’t quite do it, so she takes Maleficent’s power– her wings– from her. The betrayal is still deep, committed by a childhood friend, destroying a bond formed two species, Humans and Fairies, who were supposed to hate and fear each other. We’d also get another starring female part and no more tangential talk all over the internet about “man-hating.” Obviously, the movie is not about “man-hating” anyway. Aurora ends up with a loving, cute, brave guy, as well as remaining a friend to Maleficent. In Angelina Jolie’s own words:
We wanted to tell a story about the strength of women and the things they feel between one another,” Jolie said. “Our movie has all this strength and all this feminism, but, what I think is so nice is that, sometimes, in order to do that you have to make the man an idiot. Instead, we have this very elegant, wonderfully handsome, prince who, in the end, is great. He doesn’t need to be less than to make us more than. We don’t have to simplify or cheapen the men, or to detract from one to make the other better. I think that’s a mistake that’s often made in movies.
So, if Stefan had been Stefanie, this whole “man-hating” interpretation would be nicely cleared up. Do you think Hollywood would make a movie with three female leads? Two female villains? Wouldn’t that be great? Tell me what you think.