One movie that has really got me thinking this semester about women’s empowerment has been Enough. I think this is partially because of the role of domestic abuse in the film.
In the beginning of the film Enough, Slim plays the role of a stereotypical woman. Indeed, the only we way we can truly individualize Slim is through the very basis of her name. Other than that, any woman could play the role of a waitress being swept up and falling in love with the man who heroically saved her from a slummy guy. I kept waiting for the twist to come in the beginning of the movie. The montage of the years passing as the two fell in love, married, and started a family felt more like an ending to a movie than the start. There had to be more substance to this movie than just the story of a happy a couple.
And then the moment comes, when Slim is first physically beaten by her husband, Mitch, after confronting him about an affair. And this moment of abuse when all power is stripped from Slim becomes the very moment that eventually leads to her empowerment. Now, Slim has become a character we are rooting for. Our hate for Mitch is secondary to our desire for Slim to escape. Slim no longer plays an archetypal stereotypical role that any female could play, but rather, complexly starts to become Slim, a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional figure we become attached to.
I think part of the reason why this film resonated with me so much was precisely because it got me thinking about my own life and my mother. Growing up in a traditional Muslim, Turkish household, my mother was forced into an arranged marriage with a man who constantly degraded her. My mother wanted to escape, but was scared because she had two children (my younger brother and me) and, like Slim, was financially dependent on my biological father. However, like Slim as well, it wasn’t until my biological father physically beat my mother that my mother began to seek an escape from this marriage and ask others about divorce.
Enough also got me thinking: to what extent does motherhood play in the role of women’s empowerment? The physical abuse my mother endured was when she began to take action to get a divorce from my father precisely because she did not want the same life for me. It is also in the film Enough when Mitch finds Slim in her hiding spot and hits Gracie that Slim musters enough willpower in that moment to again escape from Mitch. Enough then becomes enough domestic abuse when the child, Gracie, is also affected by Mitch’s temper.
This also got me thinking: doesn’t motherhood in the context of domestic abuse become just like Lacan’s Mirror Stage then? Gracie getting hit by Mitch empowers Slim enough to escape Mitch in a moment when she was ready to surrender. It is hard for the audience to not assume that Slim is doing this not only to protect Gracie from harm, but also because in that moment of Mitch hitting Gracie, Slim sees herself. Similarly, my mother has told me that I was the motivation for her divorce. She did not want me to be forced into the abusive lifestyle she had grown up living her entire life. In this rationale, through the projection of time, don’t I become a version of my mother’s Ideal Self? My mother sees herself in me physically: we share many of the same genes. And my mother’s Ideal Self did not have to be forced into an arranged marriage. While Lacan’s Mirror focuses on the infant recognizing himself through the Other of the Mother, doesn’t motherhood act as motivation for empowerment because of the projection of the Ideal Self onto the child?
I feel as though Enough as much as it has done to clarify many of the concepts we have been discussing throughout GirlPower has left me with more questions than answers. What are your takeaways from the film? And why is domestic abuse necessary for women to become empowered? Can we see any other theorists through Enough besides Lacan?