The politics regarding women’s bodies has been a major talking point for years now, however when horror films began and first started becoming popular they were not. Women used to not have a say in what happened to their body. Abortions were illegal, birth control pills weren’t around yet, and women were encouraged to have many children. Since then times have changed a great deal. We live in a society today where women have choices. If a woman doesn’t want to have children right away, she doesn’t have to. If a woman accidentally gets pregnant, then she can have an abortion. Society doesn’t pressure women to have kids as much as it once used to, and this is due to the major feminist movement that has happened, and the continuous push for women’s rights.
A film like Rosemary’s Baby says more about women’s health than I believe the director would have wanted. After doing some research I found out that Roman Polanski was the type of man who believed that the birth control pill puts too much power in females position, and that having genders other than male and female is idiotic. I was surprised to find this out because, the film he directed, Rosemary’s Baby says a lot about women’s control, and even though the film hi lights the fact that Rosemary has none, it acts as a statement. “Enovid became the first FDA approved birth control pill in 1960. However, as late as 1965, the Supreme Court case Griswold vs. Connecticut proved necessary to end state laws that restricted access to ‘the pill.” Rosemary’s Baby appeared in theaters around the time Pope Paul VI released his infamous encyclical Humanae Vitae that reaffirmed the Church’s traditional position against birth control. A few years later, in 1973, the high court crafted Roe v. Wade. Welcome to the culture wars.” (Poll, paragraph 10). Now this coincidence would make more sense if Polanski was a feminist icon, but he in fact is not. The film shows the horrors of what may be if women do not have control over their bodies and how that has the potential to hurt society. Whether or not he meant to produce a work that can be interpreted that way is beyond me, but it’s genius. People create art that mimics what is going on in society, so it only makes sense that this film would come out around the same time as this controversial case happened. Even if Polanski created this film to agree with the idea of women having no rights over their bodies just supports the idea that people create work that challenges, inspires, or in many cases scares them because of society.
Rosemary’s character is one that wants so desperately to be free as a woman. She tries on several occasions to free herself and her child from the horror of what she believes to be going on around her in plain site. The things that are taking place are so out there that the audience is unsure if they are even real in the first place. If we are looking at this film in a way that connects to the societal stand point that women had, I would have to say that her reality was real. “Rosemary’s demonic rape provides only the most violent example of how her body becomes imprisoned by the world her husband and malefic neighbors craft for her. At the beginning of the film, she’s already locked firmly into a heteronormative marriage, running to Guy with beer and sandwiches when he walks in the door. After the pregnancy, her once beloved apartment has become a cage, her health, weight and hairstyle critiqued and managed. Her attempts to escape fail and, in the fever dream of the dénouement, she becomes bound to the ultimate feminine mystique.” (Poll Paragraph 12).
The film demonstrates the struggle of women in an extreme but accurate way. Pregnant women have always had a stigma for seeming crazy due to their hormonal mood swings. Right off the bat Rosemary is set up to be unstable, when that just isn’t the case. The people around her are cruel and insane. Because she lives in a time period where men have so much power, it is extremely hard for her to seek help from the devils around her. Women can relate to this feeling from any time period in my opinion. Even today men are respected more than women, seen as stronger than women, seen as more reliable than women, more innovative, more stable, sane, and overall more fun. So where does that leave women? Society sets women up for failure, and the second women refute that they are seen as crazy bitches, much like how Rosemary was targeted and brainwashed.
“As we discuss the historical context and the political buttons the film pushed more than forty years ago, some of it seems all too contemporary. Whether or not you believe there is a “war on women” in this country (and at the very least I believe there is a war on women’s health and reproductive choices), you have to acknowledge that the debate on reproductive rights, and restrictions on the same, continues with a white-hot heat.” (Poll, Paragraph 13). This is a film that tackles the tricky concept of gender roles and gender expectations in serious depth. So many people will watch this film in universities and chuckle at the snarky cried sexual comments g
uy makes and will think nothing of it. Girls even. Females are surrounded by rape culture, and films like this support that sort of culture. Now that time has past however, we can look at this film in a different light and see the flaws. We can also see how this film can be used for good and we might even go far enough to say that they directed this film to showcase what scares them. That being women who have their own opinions and ideas and denies just like Rosemary. But their way of trying to keep women in society in place is by trapping the Rosemary character and giving her the worse outcome possible for such a strong character, forcing her to suppress all of her hopes, individuality, and identity.