Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Essay

1075 words - 4 pages

When it was written in 1925, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, by Anita Loos was heralded as a tremendous novel. It was seen as cutting edge and insightful, yet somewhat risqué in its portrayal of Lorelei Lee and her escapades. I can see how this may have been thought at that time, seeing as how women were looked at in such a different way then they are currently. The fact that a women with as little know-how as Lorelei can manipulate men the way that she does, leaves no question as to who is the superior gender in Loos’ mind. While the books is quite amusing, and does have many strengths, if it is looked at in the context of women’s struggles with issues such as domesticity, sexuality and socioeconomic standing it seems less and less like such a brilliant, satirical social commentary.
     Lorelei seemed to come from a middle class family. She mentions that she attended business college, and that her father was sending her away to learn how to become a stenographer. This indicates that it was not out of the question for her to work for a living, although after she fell into the hands of Gus Eisman she does nothing of the sort. After living under the care of Mr. Eisman, she easily makes the transition from being a part of the working middle class to the life of leisure of the upper class. This of course would be a tremendous event for most people, but Lorelei seems not to dwell too much on it. She chooses, rather to focus on other more important things like diamond tiaras. So, instead, I will focus on it for a moment. It seems completely out of line for a book that claims to be such an intelligent commentary on women’s lives, to focus on a woman of such privilege. I know that the fact that she is so privileged adds a very amusing edge to the novel, but it really seems quite inaccurate. Since it was originally published in Harper’s Bazaar, it has to be noted that the women who would be reading such periodicals would be of the working or middle class. Seeing a protagonist like Lorelei who rose to the top without working may have been nice for these women to read, something akin to a fairy tale, it still is certainly unrepresentative of the average woman. Taking into account the inflation of the past seventy-five years, I still do not know anyone who would call up their father (or father-like person) and ask them for $10,000. It is the things like this that make me completely unable to identify with Lorelei, and I find it hard to believe that many women at the time would have been able to either.
     Something that I feel many women at the time, and still some to this day can identify with, is Lorelei’s use of her sexuality to get what she wants from men. It reminds me of the whole “treating” phenomenon mentioned in Cheap Amusements. While did not have sex with men for the presents they gave her, she certainly wasn’t above...

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