Icons / August 2016

Women Not Girls Rule The World

The Rake champions the powerful, empowered allure of the full-grown female in all her glory.

Whenever a female friend is freaking out about turning 30 or even — egads! — 40 years of age, I’ll suggest they watch two films: Dangerous Liaisons, and Kill Bill.

The former movie features 18-year-old model-turned-aspiring-thespian Uma Thurman; the latter stars the same actress aged 33. In 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons, Uma’s an innocent ingénue, “not a girl, not yet a woman” as Britney Spears would succinctly put it some years later. She’s beautiful, pure as the driven snow, and yet, but still… You can thoroughly understand why the film’s libertine male protagonist, the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich in full reptillian roué mode), finds her inexpert bedtime company utterly mundane, treats her as a mere plaything to be toyed with, and continues to long for the more grown-up Madame de Tourvel (a then 30-year-old Michelle Pfeiffer) and the worldly-wise Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close, 41 at the time).

Valmont, like fellow lace’n’frills-fancying fop Prince, believes women, not girls, rule the world. If they’re to act their shoe size, he’d prefer it be European sizing of 30-plus.

What a difference a decade or so makes, though. Fulfilling the prophecy of “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon”, the Urge Overkill tune she so memorably dances to in previous Tarantino masterpiece, Pulp Fiction, when Uma appears in 2003’s Kill Bill, she has blossomed into a proper, full-grown goddess. By that time, in real life, she’d had two kids; in the film she’s had one (albeit, while in a coma), and despite her character being named Beatrix Kiddo, the individual she portrays is anything but a child. Thurman’s ‘Bride’ has escaped the clutches of her father-figure former lover — the movie’s titular villain, Bill — and is making her own (visceral, vengeful, eyeball-squishing) way in the world. No simpering girl-child Gidget — she’s an adult, empowered, ass-kicking, bloody red-blooded woman. And she’s all the more beguiling for it. Sure, Thurman the girl was good as gold, but the more mature Uma? Ooh mama.

Sadly, our superficial youth-obsessed society teaches women that their best years are in adolescence and their 20s — come 30-something, they’re past their use-by date, they’re yesterday’s news, or so all that glossy magazine ‘anti-ageing’ imagery seems to scream. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Just as men often only come into their own or reach their peak in their middle years (this publication was founded upon that very philosophy), the same can certainly be said for females.

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Christian Barker

Christian Barker is The Rake's Asia editor-at-large, a frequent contributor to this site, and an enthusiastic consumer of fine whiskies, sashimi and classic disco music - ideally in unison.