A few weeks ago I did a presentation on Catherine Breillat. She’s a French filmmaker, actress, and writer, known for her films that push the boundaries of censorship. Her films feature nudity and graphic sex scenes. She writes about women that explore their sexuality and desires without shame and embarrassment. I was excited to research her because it’s rare to find a woman in the media so open and honest about sex. In the media, female desire comes with many stigmas. It’s dangerous, dirty, unknown, silenced, and forbidden.
Breillat offers her opinion stating in an interview, “It's a joke - if men can't desire liberated women, then tough. Does it mean they can only desire a slave? Men need to question the roots of their own desire. Why is it that historically men have this need to deny women to be able to desire them?” Women lack the language and tools to discuss their desires because they are always labeled as dangerous. Our society wouldn’t want a woman actually admitting to liking sex. How could her desires ever be equal to men or teenage boys who don’t have any control over their wild hormones!
I’ve been puzzled with those questions over the last few weeks. Eve Ensler, the creator of “The Vagina Monologues” stated that women’s empowerment is deeply connected to their sexuality. Yet, if women’s sexuality is constantly being denied and ignored, how can women hope to reach the heights of men? I had the privilege of seeing “The Vagina Monologues” performed a few weeks ago while I was visiting Hillary in Indiana. It is a set of monologues compiled after 200 interviews with women discussing sex, relationships, and their vaginas. The monologues present areas of women’s experiences that have been neglected and considered “dirty.” I think it is through work like this that women’s experiences can gain value and respect.
Female desires will continue to be dangerous as long as young girls and boys remain clueless about birth control. I do not know what the solution to sexual education is, but I do know that young people are having sex, and they are not prepared with the consequences. Let’s break the cycle. Let’s start talking about sex, bodies, protection, and vaginas.
Here are some links you might enjoy:
This is a great book I read in my Introduction to Sociology course freshman year about the lack of knowledge about teenage girl’s sexual desires: http://www.amazon.com/Dilemmas-Desire-Teenage-Girls-Sexuality/dp/0674018567
A brief history on Catherine Breillat: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0106924/bio
Information about V-day, a non-profit organization, fighting violence against women: http://www.vday.org/about/more-about
A great video in response to the cut in funding to Planned Parenthood where students declare that they “have sex”: http://feministing.com/2011/03/11/i-have-sex/