24 May 2007

Shortbus movie review which gets sort of derailed into a feminist tirade. You’ve been warned.

We watched Shortbus a couple of nights ago, which was, as one of my internet friends said, verrrry sweet. Almost cloying, at the end - very rose-tinted glasses. Dave didn't like it as much as me, and I thought the film kind of skimmed over some really hard questions (like the potential aftereffects of dedicating a film of your suicide to your boyfriend) - it's a leetle more complicated than the easy reunion at the end suggests.

For a movie that, on the surface, is all about sex and sexuality, (the movie’s website describes it as “a mad nexus of art, music, politics and polysexual carnality”) it’s awfully non-titillating – much more interested in love and romance. As far as sex goes, it’s kind of an analytical look at it – which interested me since most of the time in real life, sex works better when you turn your higher cognitive functions off.

BUT - one of the things I found totally refreshing about the movie was that, for all the cocks and shoulders and sixpacks being fetishized, there was hardly any long loving looks at the female body - if anything, it was almost ignored, except for a couple of pairs of nice (non-implanted) boobs. There was barely a cooter shot in the whole movie, but millions and millions of cocks.

Without having done any research, I suspect that speaks more to what the director/photographer was interested in looking at but seriously, I felt like I was in a movie where everything you normally see - the breathless overglamourization and heavy emphasis on the female body as objet d'art and d'obsession was completely missing and instead the female body was, oh my god, really about women learning to take pleasure in their own bodies. For themselves, not for anyone else. It's practically fucking revolutionary.

It was a nice palliative to all those dickheads who think women wearing short skirts or dressing stylishly are asking to be raped, or at very least "should have expected some attention, dressing that way" - like catcalls from across the street, say.

Of course, I’m constantly enraged that when I wear a tight tank top and tight jeans and Docs and walk down the street, I'll get leers and whistles. When my boyfriend wears the identical outfit (in his size) he gets ... silence. Not leers, not whistles, not catcalls. Possibly a couple of funny looks, but no one is propositioning his or telling him to "show off that pretty smile, honey!" Because it's okay for men to show off their bodies and enjoy the beauty of their bodies purely for themselves, but when a woman does it ... well, geez, there's no way I could wear an outfit like that without hoping to attract some male attention, right? So I either suck it up and ignore the assholes or dress so as not to attract attention. Yay. Why don't I put on a fucking burka and have done with it?

(I know, street harassment – or any kind of sexual harassment - isn’t really about finding someone attractive, it’s about exerting your dominance over someone else. So a burka wouldn’t help. It still fucking sucks. )


Jesse Wiedinmyer said...

So what would you recommend that one read to expand upon these themes?

Kaethe said...

Good tirade.