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Swift, W.J. Cody, G. (1998). Gilda: Fear and Loathing of the Exquisite Object of Relentless Desire. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(3):301-330.

(1998). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(3):301-330

Gilda: Fear and Loathing of the Exquisite Object of Relentless Desire

William J. Swift, M.D. and Graham Cody, M.D.

In this essay themes of misogyny in the 1946 film release Gilda, starring the “All-American Love Goddess” Rita Hayworth, are explored from a contemporary vantage point. Gilda, one of classic Hollywood's most renowned pieces of heterosexual erotica, is ironically and tellingly laden with woman-hating sentiments. While Hayworth's portrayal of Gilda as a strong, active, sexual woman had the intended impact on male spectators—she is an object of desire—it also catalyzed a powerful counterforce of fear, hate, and the sadistic need to control in the men surrounding her. The developmental roots of misogyny in men are discussed as well as the typical defense mechanisms underlying such an attitude. While Gilda appears to be misogynistic at a surface level, the film cautions about the dangers of misogyny at a deeper level and its injurious effects on both men and women.

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