I find that the best documentaries spur the viewer on to action. While you are watching them you are pumped up and afterwards you are not the same. Not the same in that your mind has been expanded and you are itching for action. Maria Finitzo’s (Those Left Behind, In the Game) film is a call to action. And that action is to stand up for and shed light on female sexual pleasure.
At 1 hour 48 minutes Finitzo is thorough. It doesn’t feel long. Rather time passes quickly. Your brain is whirring though. Taking in. Absorbing like a sponge. So much to learn. Tons to think about. Throughout it is engaging and a pleasure to watch. Should be obligatory watching for each and every human on the planet.
We delve into the work and lives of four women who are attempting to bring down the falicies in the beliefs about female sexual desire. Acknowledging that this involves power dynamics and the female body – who controls it.
First is artist Sophia Wallace, who has developed the “cliteracy” program. She wants to unveil the clitoris in her art so that women can be in touch with it and the world becomes aware of its involvement in the female orgasm.
Dr. Stacy Dutton is a neuroscientist who, to her own shock, came to the realization that she had, in the course of her studies and work as a professor, never seen a drawing of the clitoris. The first time she came across it was in the work of Wallace. This led to her fighting to get science/biology to begin to study it and going to war with the publishing industry to fix its omission.
For 20 years Dr. Lisa Diamond has fought via her research the misinformation that is out there in regards to female sexual pleasure.
Finally, idustrial designer Ti Chang has founded Crave, a company which designs and manufactures high end vibrators for women.
We also see women like Omnia, Becca, Jasmine, Sunny, and Coriama, who on the ground floor in their lives walk the walk. They are five young women who are peeling back the onion like layers of female sexuality and being out and proud about their own.
All this points towards the inescapable truth that women will never truly be equal until it is accepted or the norm that they are sexual beings. Women are being held back as second class citizens even in regards to sexual expression. Until women are able to fully express their needs, wants and desires sexually we will never be living full lives.
The Dilemma of Desire begins a conversation. A conversation which is vital and up until recently has not been happening. Women have been forced into silence. Only now do we feel strong enough in enough numbers to bring this to the table. Male sexuality has always been a given. Attention and space has been allotted to it whereas female desire has been ignored and, even more aggressively, silenced.
Finitzo’s film is empowering. It shows how gender politics has purposely omitted women as a method of control. The female body has been used to sell almost everything on the planet. Constantly on display. So much so that it has become an object. This allows others to abuse it. The female body is for others’ pleasure and not for the woman herself. We see many women who are fighting against it. Trying to reappropriate the female body and in extension desire.
Patriarchy is firmly entrenched. Things are not going to change unless we are willing to fight. If we want falsehoods about female desire to be righted it is going to be up to women and their allies.