A meditation on the rise of the ‘dark femme,’ except meditation is just a fancy and overzealous word I use when making intellectually-driven complaints.
After hearing through the grapevine that TikTok (Gen Z’s famed new manufacturer of personal aesthetics) was mass distributing the blueprint to an archetype best known as the ‘dark femme,’ I was morbidly thrilled to discover that people were upset. At last. The 21st century woman’s resolve to epitomise the archetypal femme fatale - to subdue it, preside over its criteria, command its timeless, seductive power - finally seemed to be engendering amongst the collective a kind of nausea I had contained for months within myself.
I am not here to boast an aversion to trends. In fact, you’ll find me a keen observer of this archetype’s many facets and dimensions. When I tire of composing written works about the femme fatale, I read her in the likes of Anaïs Nin, idolise her blindly in Nin’s confessional passages proclaiming the writer’s love of June Miller, remain faithful to the musings of the Vedic astrologers who speak of Ashlesha with such reverence, try earnestly to gauge her appeal in Euphoria’s Maddy Perez. So, it seems I am unmoved by the Internet’s sudden revelations speaking of the siren’s star on the rise; equally, I am unmoved by your attempts to convince me that Gen Z’s rendition of the siren is in any way radically feminist or progressive. Why?
While I am not active on TikTok, the popular video-sharing platform has its way of molding the fruitless discourse that pervades veteran social media apps like Twitter and Instagram: https://twitter.com/cuteness333/status/1542329696276230147
The tweet includes a screenshot taken from TikTok, in which user @femmefatalehandbook instructs viewers on how to master the ‘siren gaze,’ a look designed to be picked up on subconsciously by men who are instinctually familiar with the expression made by women prior to orgasm. (Or so they say.) For an archetype that, if I recall correctly, is rooted in the exploitation of men as a form of female empowerment, the femme fatale’s new purpose is coloured somewhat overwhelmingly by this desire to please them.
The thrill of either proposition seems to have created a collective of women committed to debating which star-studded birth chart placement or Robert Greene archetype reigns superior in the art of becoming a man’s darkest fantasy. I was disheartened to find that the common ground that lies between various women-centric online communities remains none other than grasping at straws to identify with strong Lilith, Scorpio and Ashlesha influences according to Western and Vedic astrology respectively, or quite literally receiving The Siren at the end of an online quiz inspired by Robert Greene’s 9 Archetypal Lovers. If it’s any consolation, my result was The Coquette (yes, I took the quiz) and none of my Vedic nakshatras fall under Ashlesha. So, I’m not a siren - what now?
Perhaps, in an alternate universe, I would have leapt at the chance to ‘resolve’ this; to seek out some other pseudoscientific system that could possibly validate the identity I so strongly believed I had chosen in the unwavering spirit of my own feminism. Still, this is a universe inhabited comfortably by multiple women, and admittedly, it aggravated me. It aggravated me to bear witness to so many women and girls actively sacrificing their individuality and harbouring resentment for one another for the pleasure of men.
So, I’ve discovered, I’m not a siren - and with the above in mind I suppose I have few objections.
You’ll find more of my Twitter-originated musings (amongst a sea of other equally repetitive and perhaps vaguely pretentious-sounding opinions) in full-length and glory on my Substack blog: minxclub.substack.com
Words: Solana Aerin Webber