As part of the United Nations Association Film festival ("Empathy" is the festivqal's theme this year), I just saw the amazing documentary, "#Female Pleasure," written, produced, and directed by Barbara Miller, which portrays five women from around the world (India, the U.K., Germany, the U.S., Japan) who are trying dismantle patriarchal systems of oppression in which girls and women hate their own bodies, feel alienated from their own materiality, experience their bodies primarily as sex objects for the subjective pleasure of the males in their lives. In "#Female Pleasure," we meet:
Leila Hussein, a Somali-British woman, who experienced FGM herself in the UK, and whose mission it is to stop FGM not only in Britain, but in the 10 African countries where it is most prevalent.
Deborah Feldman, an American Hasidic woman who left the Satmar Orthodox Community in which she grew up. The recent Netflix series, "Unorthodox" is based on her experiences. Here is a Guardian article about Deborah Feldman's experiences: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/29/deborah-feldman-hasidic-once-upon-a-life
Rokudenashiko, a Japanese artist who is famous for not only creating comics and 3-D art based on the vagina (oops, should have said "vulva": edited for accuaracy), but also for the fact that she was arrested for her "obscene" work in a nation that is awash in hardcore pornography that appeals almost exclusively to male sexual desire. Here is a YouTube video about Rokudenashiko, her art, and her troubles with the Japanese legal system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR2I2NaxqwM
Doris Wagner, a German Cartholic nun who was raped by a priest, Father Bukhart, who was in supreme authority over her, and who left the church in order to make her story known to the public. Here is an NPR article about Doris Wagner's experience in the church: https://www.npr.org/2019/02/09/693062479/former-nun-talks-about-experiences-of-abuse-in-germany
Vithika Yadov, who, according to Wikipedia, is the country head of Love Matters India which provides information about love, sex and relationships for all genders (?!!! Really, wikipedia....really? I'm pretty sure that Vithika is focused on the well-being of girls and women in a nation where female sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, and gang rape and murder of young women is endemic and rampant) and sexualities. Here is a TEDX talk by Vithika Yadov on stopping sexual violence in India: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP4bnwzeNTw&list=LL2_J3CKeVCrBLEJ_oaacHMg&index=4704
And, here are the most memorable scenes/ quotes (for me) of this incredible documentary:
The opening scenes...advertisement photos found in ubiquitous marketing in the West...naked/ half naked young women juxtaposed against dapper, smug men in suits; women in vulnerable positions threated with male violence (trigger warning: the Dolce Gabanna images may make you sick)....all contrasted with images of religious women, modestly dressed in conservative religious societies.
Leila Hussein creating a huge artistic display out of playdo of a little girl's vulva and clitoris, and demonstrating to young Kenyan men, using oversized prop knives, scissors and needles + thread, the horrors of FGM "surgeries." By the time she's done, she, the young men, and I, the viewer, are in tears...weeping. One young man, horribly distressed, says, "This is torture...it has to stop."
Rokudenashiko happily rowing a canoe against beautiful sun dappled mountains: the canoe was made from a plaster cast of her own vagina, which she scanned, enlarged, and made into a 3-D piece functional and sea-worthy vessel.
Rokudenashiko making a plaster cast of a friend's vagina: they're both laughing joyously, probably in anticipation of new vagina-based works of art to come.
Rokudenashiko attending a Shinto fertility festival in which the penis is worshipped. Penises everywhere....large penises paraded through the streets strewn with flowers. Men and women licking penis popsickles. Astonishing to consider knowing that Rokudenashiko herself was arrested and convicted in Japan on charges of obscenity for her own vagina-based art.
Vithika Yadov (paraphrasing here): "In the land of the Kama Sutra (India), we can't even talk about sex...it's taboo." And, "Your whole role as a woman is to entice someone...most women in India don't even know what pleasure means..."
Here's a link to the "#Female Pleasure" website: https://www.femalepleasure.org/
There are no more screenings of this documentary through the United Nations Association Film festival, but, I urge you to find a virtual film festival that will allow you to experience it yourself SOON. I found it to be extraordinary.