#FEMALE PLEASURE exposes the subjugation of women in different cultures through the portraits of five women. We encounter the Jewish woman Deborah Feldman, breaking with the ultra-orthodox Hasidic society of Brooklyn, New York; Somalian Layla Hussein, who is genitally mutilated at the age of seven; Rokudenashiko (Megumi Iga-rashi), who risks two years of imprisonment in Japan because of her vaginal art; Doris Wagner, who is sexually abused in the Catholic Church in Germany; and Vithika Yadav, who combats sexual harassment and sexual violence towards women in India.
Through this movie, director Barbara Miller exposes the demonization of the female body and the deadening silence surrounding female sexuality. The film confirms the historical exploitation by men abusing their power to dominate and subjugate women through hierarchical social structures.
Penis yes, vagina no
In the culture of porn women are usually presented as an object of enjoyment at men’s disposal. As Rokudenashiko comments: «Women are portrayed to satisfy men’s fantasies.» Not only are the camera angles, but the dramaturgy, is also centered on the male orgasm.
I don’t know if I speak on behalf of most women when I say I don’t achieve orgasm by fast and hard penetration, as shown in male dominant porn movies; quite the contrary – I orgasm through slow movements around the clitoris, and not by the penis, but the hand. Sorry to disappoint you, penises!
«It is all about controlling female sexuality, and this is a global problem.»
The Japanese artist Rokudenashiko risks incarceration because of her two-meter long, 3D printed vagina canoe, in which she paddled through Tokyo in 2014. As a consequence, she was arrested and charged with «obscenity». Ironically the male genitals are annually celebrated in Japan during the penis festival Kanamara Matsuri, where gigantic phalluses are lauded through illustrations, candy, vegetables, and decorations. Why celebrate the penis but not the vagina?
A global problem
Publicly, as well as in private life, the sexuality and desires of women are ignored, and the clitoris, the key to female orgasm, is non-existent. Time and time again I read articles on the mysterious orgasm of women, secret recipes for women to achieve orgasm, and so forth. In reality there is no mystery, neither concerning the female orgasm or the vagina.
When Somalian psychotherapist and activist Leyla Hussein tells the story of how she had her clitoris cut off in the name of religion (even if this practice is never mentioned in the Koran), she talks about female genital mutilation (FGM), psychologically and physically, as a global problem: «It is all about controlling female sexuality, and this is a global problem.» Today, women in Africa and Europe are genitally mutilated, and all over the world, women are taught that the vagina is taboo, something shameful and reserved for male enjoyment. As a new mother in the 21st Century, in Austria, I am overrun as a woman in the name of equality and forced to share my child’s care with the father.
The message is crystal-clear: we are all dominated by the patriarchy, and this is a global problem.
Equality in child custody has gone too far. Biologically, there is a significant difference between a man and woman; this also makes for a difference between motherhood and fatherhood. Equal rights for mother and father is denigrating to the mother; first and foremost because it ignores the fact she has gone through pregnancy and childbirth, giving her a stronger bond to the child. My experience is that the vagina, even pregnancy and birth, which really are biological gifts to women, are allocated to men in the contemporary world. Since laws are made by the patriarchy, fathers, of course, are secured the same right as mothers, and here sexual equality has come a long way.
The patriarchy: a universal religion
What about the global struggle for equal sexual rights? We are still waiting. As long as patriarchy persists, woman’s needs and interests remain subordinate. About countries that still practice female genital mutilation, Layla Hussein says: «They are following the practices of patriarchy, a universalist religion.»
#FEMALE PLEASURE moves from the personal level to the universal – both in content and in visual form – with the camera focusing first on the individual women, then on landscapes and the ocean. Finally, the film speaks directly to the viewer with the text: «This film is dedicated to empower women worldwide.» The message is crystal-clear: we are all dominated by the patriarchy, and this is a global problem.
All over the world, women are taught that the vagina is taboo, something shameful and reserved for male enjoyment.
Countess Kate Middleton parades in front of the press, in full make-up and on high heels, right after giving birth to each of her three children. This is the reality men want, and we accept it blindly.
An autonomous female sexuality, the liberation of the female body, and openness regarding women’s feminine enjoyment would be great progress for both women and men. I feel provoked, elated and angry after watching this movie, but most of all I feel reinforced in my resolve to further the struggle for women’s rights in my everyday life – Viva la vagina!