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The Sexual Politics of “Ides of March”

The Sexual Politics of "Ides of March"

For all the political talk around George Clooney’s “Ides of March,” there’s an area of the film that I’ve been meaning to address and see if it raises further debate: What exactly is the sexual politics at play in a film that twists, turns and pivots around the issue of (spoiler alert) sex and infidelity. I had hoped going into the film that the corrupt actions of the central politician would revolve around something far more insidious than sexual improprieties (which is, after all, so 1998.) But here we are in 2011, and “Ides of March” posits young women as mere meat for powerful political figures. Or does it?

Evan Rachel Wood’s intern Molly Stearns is one of the stronger characters in the film (and Wood’s performance one of the film’s strengths), and yet, she is also the most vulnerable. For those who’ve seen the movie, there’s a third act switch revolving around a decision of Molly’s that I found totally out of character for the strong and aspirational young woman. If females are disposable in the world of politics, does the film confirm they’re also disposable for narrative cinema?

I also wonder about the other women in the film, as well: Jennifer Ehle’s dutiful, but shrewd wife, who gets one scene to show she’s more than the simple good mother she appears to be, and Marisa Tomei’s four-eyed Jewish reporter, Ida Horowicz, who is no less manipulative than the male politicians she aims to scam for information, and so desexualized (which, for Tomei, seems out of place, or maybe just a bad casting choice).

I’m not sure about any of this, but I thought it was worth asking. Seems like I’m not the first (“‘Ides of March’ Has a Woman Problem“). What do you think?

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