Nola Has It
Spike Lee’s use of Jamie, Greer, and Mars as tools at Nola’s disposal function as a mechanism in providing the meaning of “it”. The men in Nola’s life are not only sexually interchangeable but literally occupy supporting roles. This acting arrangement works to reveal that it is Nola’s agency or independence. I believe that exclusively defining it as sexual independence not only oversimplifies the film but ultimately falls short of the broader construct that Lee was trying to express. Lee provides evidence that it is comprised of more than sexual independence in the following scene:
The scene to the right depicts Nola’s disappointment when she tries to independently satisfy herself.
Masturbation should serve as the ultimate sense of sexual independence, in that it provides the opportunity for Nola to provide sexual satisfaction to herself without relying on the presence of another individual. Seeing that Nola is reduced to calling Jaime provides evidence that it can’t just mean sexual independence. Instead it refers to freedom from a conventional feminine societal role or depiction. As discussed in class with School Daze, typically the epitomized notion of female power is seen in a woman’s attractiveness and desirability but ultimately she is still an object of gaze. However, Nola’s conquests of her sexual wants (with multiple partners) liberates herself from the conventional woman who is loyal, monogamous, and acts as an object of male’s gaze and desire. Instead gender role reversal occurs in that Greer, Mars, and Jamie are her objects and she is the authority or subject of each relationship.
Nola Loses It
Nola loses her identity by becoming an object.
The above scene depicts Jaime’s refusal of the stereotyped woman’s role. When Jamie forces Nola to answer “Who’s pussy is it?” and she responds with “yours” she loses her presence as a subject in the relationship and becomes the object (this is most notably seen when Jaime literally pushes Nola on the bed after this rape scene, similar to what one does when they are discarding a used object).
She assumes the role of the “traditional” woman by becoming a means of sexual satisfaction for a man. Interestingly, following this scene, Nola voluntarily deserts Greer and Mars to commit herself to Jaime by uttering “I Love You”–and sacrificing her desires to become the conventional woman who is solely concerned with satisfying her partner.
Nola Gains It Back
In her final monologue, Nola dismisses the role of the traditional woman. She delivers her monologue from her own bed which is reminiscent of the opening of the film (when she had it). She says, “My body, my mind,” as opposed to Jaime’s body, Jaime’s mind. Her statement shows further evidence that she has gained back her own autonomy. Spike ultimately ends the film with us knowing that for Nola Darling to truly have it she must not be relegated to one man (in fact multiple men are needed to please Nola) for one man will never be enough to truly match Nola Darling.