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Susan Estrich
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That Scene


I had never seen anything like it. I sat in the movie theater holding my breath as Marlon Brando wielded the stick of butter. For the sake of families who might be reading, I'll say no more, except that "Last Tango in Paris" was, depending on your perspective, either a very sexy movie or a very scary one.

The woman in that scene, Maria Schneider, died on Thursday in Paris at the age of 58. Newspaper accounts of her death make clear that the $4,000 she was paid for that role did not begin to compensate her for the pain it caused. The scene wasn't in the script. Brando — that genius — insisted on it. "I felt humiliated, and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci (the director)," she told reporters later. "After the scene, Marlon didn't console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take."

It turned her into a "sex symbol." Think about what that means: A "sex symbol" is a woman who is painfully humiliated, against her will and without her consent, with the cameras running, a woman forced to film a scene she did not agree to do or want to do.

Bertolucci was the famous director, Brando the mega-famous actor, and Schneider? She was a 19-year-old unknown, the abandoned daughter of a famous actor who refused to acknowledge her. She had no clout. She could not say no to these powerful men. She was their object. They used her and abused her, and this made her an international "sex symbol."

Three years later, she played an architecture student known simply as "the girl" in "The Passenger," directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. In that one, she was Jack Nicholson's girl.

"I wanted to be recognized as an actress, and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film turned me a little crazy, and I had a breakdown." Her career fell apart.

Linda Lovelace, who shocked audiences during the same period in "Deep Throat," later revealed even more troubling stories of abuse.

Is it just a coincidence that, for women, "sex symbol" so often seems to equate with victim and the path to "sex symbol" is so often lined with abuse?

Girls grow up longing to be as pretty and desired as the Maria Schneiders and Linda Lovelaces. I see them sometimes outside Hollywood hotspots, stunningly beautiful girls (and they are girls) tottering in high heels they can barely walk in, plainly nervous and out of place, with unattractive men three times their age. This is not love. This is not friendship. The only question is who is using whom, and from my perspective, it's not even a close one.

Stick around long enough and you know what happens. The girls get used up and tossed away like toilet paper, a dime a dozen. "Sex symbols to be," as any vice squad officer will tell you, are more likely to end up in the hell of Hollywood than on its movie screens, more likely to be dancing and stripping and having sex for money — and not with the younger versions of Brando or Nicholson — than lighting up movie screens. They never even get as far as Maria Schneider did.

The passing of a woman like Schneider should be an occasion to celebrate how far we have come. But if we have come so far, why do so many girls — and not just the ones in high heels with the supposed high-rollers — end up feeling like tissue paper, like Schneider with the lights off? Why do so many continue to come to my office telling me how they were also "a little raped"? As if there is such a thing.

I'm not talking about legal definitions, but real life. Humiliation is humiliation. Abuse is abuse. Whether the law recognizes it as such is irrelevant to that reality and what it does to the human being inside.

Both "Last Tango" and "Deep Throat" were made and released at the height of the sexual revolution. I remember wondering, as I watched these movies with my dates, trying to be cool and hip and sexy myself, how it was that this revolution was supposed to be liberating women. Schneider and Lovelace were not liberated; they were used. "Last Tango" was not a celebration of sexual freedom, but sexual abuse. It was scary, and it still is.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



7 Comments | Post Comment
Libtardism Liberal/Retards is a Sever Mental Disease and You are Infected With It Severely. GET HELP NOW!!!! Why You Are At It Get a VOICE MAKEOVER SQUEAKY.

sarge, US Army, Airborne Retired "BTFAQ" << BEFORE THE FILTHY AZZ QUEERS
Comment: #1
Posted by: El Sargento
Sat Feb 5, 2011 12:43 PM
Oh please, give it a rest already.

Plenty of people “sell their soul to the devil”, for all kinds of reasons, and without exception, such people eventually whine after the fact, but only after the fact, and that they are victims. Bull. Such is simply a lack of character, nothing more.

Kind of like credit cards; everyone loves charging on a credit card. However, eventually the card limit is reached and then come the remorse. “Liberals”, who see everyone as victims, blame the credit card company. The truth is more liberating; such a person simply has a lack of character.
Why is this more “liberating” to be without character as opposed to being a true victim? Because if one is truly a victim, one's current plight is truly not a result of one's own choices. But if one's current plight is the result of one's choices and lack of character, then one is in control, and thus, has the power to choose one's own destiny. Restated, good character can be learned if one understands the problem.

I do not see anything wrong with a woman stripping or selling sex for a living. What two consenting adults do is of no concern to me. What I have a problem with, for example, is a woman stripping, collecting money, using the money, and THEN whining that she is a victim of another's actions. Bull crap !!! If such a woman is a “victim” she is a victim of her own low moral character where she does not accept responsibility of her own choices.

If the “Devil” offers one a deal, and one has a choice to accept the deal, or not, and one accepts the deal, no matter how difficult it might be to turn down such deal, the right to whine “victim” has been forfeited.

Liberals teach woman/girls that they are not in control of their destiny, and if they sell their body for sex, and then regret the results, it was not their fault, they are a victim.

I say Girls/woman need to understand that choices have consequences, and bad choices have bad consequences. If they decide to sell their soul to the devil, it was their choice and they are no “victim”.

Comment: #2
Posted by: SusansMirror
Sun Feb 6, 2011 4:34 PM
Awww, poor little girl. Yeah, none of it was her fault. She didn't decide to do the skanky movie. She didn't trade on her looks to get the part. Others forced her to take the drugs that screwed up her life.

I'm sure that when she left home at 15 to chase a modeling career in Paris she was sweet and innocent, and never even had considered the wild life and parties that she was about to embark upon - she was forced to do it all.

This is one of the stupidest columns that I have ever read in my life. And if you think I'm being harsh and insensitive let me tell you - it's not unintentional. At some point in your life you should wake up and understand that there are consequences to your actions, and that you have responsibility for the decisions you make.

We should all read this column and realize exactly why the liberal reaction to the Giffords shooting was exactly what it was. It is all so totally consistent. The liberal thinking process 1.) observe an event; 2.) find somene that you can identify as a victim; 3.) if there's not really a victim, make something up to paint someone as a victim, regardless of their own contribution to the events at hand in order to denigrate someone or something that you hate (heterosexual males; Shneider is a victim of "sex symbolness", because only evil heterosexual males of the species view anyone of the opposite sex as a sex symbol - her drug use and promiscuous behavior either never existed or existed because of some sordid influence by heterosexual males); 4.) if the person truly is a victim (Giffords) find a way to either twist facts or make them up to paint someone or something you hate as the reason behind the event (Palin, guns, free speech/personal liberty); 5.) if the person isn't really a victim of anything other than their own dreadful personal judgement (Schneider) gloss over the bad personal decisions or blame them on the sordid influence of others.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Winston Galt
Sun Feb 6, 2011 7:59 PM
It's all about the liberalzation of sex. Why do we have females exploited? It's because the moral fabric of our country is gone. God is gone. We even allow women to freely abort their babies. In some cases our atheistic governement even pays for it. We allow women to make tons of money in the porno industry, and yes it is a huge 'immoral' industry.
If it's going to change, women will have to demand the respect we gave to them in my youth, as wives, mothers and grandmothers. I don't see it happening.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Early
Mon Feb 7, 2011 7:23 AM

As a rape victim @ 15, I recognized that scene as rape when I found myself seeing it at the North Park Theater in Buffalo, NY. The humiliation and violation runs deep. oftentimes the victim suffers in silence with no one to talk to. This is when prayer is the most powerful. Cry out to God with your heart and He will listen to your prayer.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Susann
Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:13 PM

More unadulterated feminist rape hysteria. Maria was an ACTRESS. The scene was ACTED. That is, it never happened in reality.

Here is what Ms Schneider said that Ms. Esdtrich left out: "Marlon said to me: 'Maria, don't worry, it's just a movie,' but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn't real, I was crying real tears."

Let me repeat that: "WHAT MARLON WAS DOING WASN'T REAL"!

So, where is Susan "Rape-is-Everywhere" Estrich's anger when male actors ACT like they are being raped in prison movies?

And where is her sympathy (and floral donations) for the stunt men who ACT like they are being killed in movies?

What happens to her sexism radar, too, when mostly men in movies ACT like objects murdered by sundry means?

Feminists are the most hypocritical, selfish, simplistic, solipsistic, male-hating, mentally-impaired muttonheads on earth.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Shlomo
Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:51 PM
Susan wrote: "Girls grow up longing to be...pretty and desired.... I see them sometimes outside Hollywood hotspots, stunningly beautiful girls...with unattractive men three times their age."

Hmmmm. Some obvious questions:

Is Susan, like dowdy Maureen Dowd, just jealous because SHE no longer turns heads?

Why did Susan choose to live in supposedly female-abusing LA?

Why aren't the girls she sees "going Dutch" (paying for half on dates) with guys their own age?

How many of the girls she watches ask boys out?

How many men has Estrich asked out HERSELF?

Do the girls and Susan act like objects (sitting passively, waiting for men to pick them up), then complain about the results?

Do females also sit passively per employment? That is, do they wait for companies to knock on their doors and woo them?

Could it be that the girls do what comes naturally (just like the guys)? That is, do females exchange youthful good looks for elderly male lucre (her sexual power for his financial power)?

How many younger men has Susan herself dated?

What, exactly, is Susan telling us: That female sexuality sells?


And here we all thought females flocked to Hollywood to learn nuclear physics and/or work the tar pits, loading docks, etc.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Shlomo
Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:13 AM
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