The movie Lovelace, which opens this week, seems an unlikely goldmine of advice to females about how to manage their lives and careers. After all, Linda Lovelace–born Linda Susan Boreman and portrayed in the movie by Amanda Seyfried–achieved her notoriety as a porn star in Deep Throat, a career choice that would strike most women as degrading and terribly misguided.
Although we can’t know what Lovelace’s thought processes were at the time, it’s likely she lived with a lot of what I call “sadness attitudes,” which are ways that we dismiss viewing ourselves as whole and complete human beings. These include feeling unworthy, lonely, and dependent on others for approval—traits that seemed to be real motivators for her fleeing her Florida upbringing as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
Also part of the “sadness” spectrum is feeling passive, helpless, and hopeless, characteristics that probably consumed her after she finally realized what a diabolical, controlling partner she had married–Chuck Traynor, the man who had orchestrated her entry into the porn industry.
As shown in the movie Lovelace, encumbered by her “sadness attitudes,” she didn’t pay adequate attention to the warning signs that might have led her to put her foot down and not travel down that road or, at least, might have helped her get out of her situation faster than she did.
Here are three scenarios the movie describes. They’re all excellent teachable moments that may resonate for many women in their decision making.
1. She had a domineering mentor. In Lovelace’s case, it was Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) who, in the movie, singles her out after watching her dance at a club. With a grim, strict mother (Sharon Stone) to deal with, Lovelace wanted out. Charming and manipulative, Traynor essentially offers his wife up as raw goods to the porn film industry and, later on, to sexual predators.
The civilized workplace can feel controlling, too, especially when you either lack or are afraid to use negotiating skills. We are also vulnerable to other’s control when our emotional life is characterized by “sadness attitudes”–andnot grounded in knowing our own self-worth. The first rule is, if your request for a dialogue is turned down, have the courage to walk,no matter how seemingly scary. Your “secure” situation–and fear of upsetting the apple cart–will not get better if you don’t listen to this inner cautionary voice.
2. She didn’t control her own money. The Lovelace vehicle Deep Throat made hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet Lovelace was paid only $1,250 for her work, and Traynor pocketed even that.
In the workplace, controlling your salary and paycheck is your business. And if you can’t negotiate the amount, consider leaving for greener pastures, hard as that may sound. ON the home front, if your spouse or partner isn’t open to some of your hard-earned income being just for you, keep talking about it, even though short term it might ignite your partner’s anger.
3. She didn’t embrace and define her real identity. There’s a telling moment in the movie, in which a photographer takes pictures of Lovelace that will promote Deep Throat. The resulting prints portray a fresh-faced young woman–exactly the opposite of the racy, sleazy blonde female stereotype associated with porn movies.
In the workplace, the herd mentality is often too tough to override, which often prevents employees from stepping outside the norm with new ideas, a unique brand, or a contrarian problem-solving strategy. Lovelace didn’t realize she was her own best asset and, therefore, allowed herself to be devalued. Don’t fall for it. The fact that you’re not like your boss means you can see the lay of the land differently, which may mean a different and perhaps highly profitable vision. But you need to trust yourself first and problem solve using your own unique strengths.
What’s the takeaway here?
It’s important to remember that Lovelace’s porn “career” lasted a mere 17 days, that she happily remarried, wrote two books–Ordeal and Out of Bondage–and became an avid crusader against pornography. Circumstances for change always present themselves, no matter what your employment situation, job, or career.
Linda Lovelace learned from her mistakes. So can we all, by resolving our core sense of unworthiness, our “sadness attitudes,” and replacing them with self-approval, self-appreciation, goal-setting, and action taking in line with what we know within.
Want to find out more about the attitudes and emotions that dominate your character and may be sabotaging your business success or personal happiness? Take a quick self-quiz here, and then try the coping strategies designed to address them.
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Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, is a respected psychotherapist, professional educator, and workshop leader. Her award-winning book is Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. Learn more at www.attitudereconstruction.com.
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