Welcome to the rePROFilm Periodical – featuring a mission-aligned short film of the month and accompanying podcast conversation. The Periodical is generously underwritten so that our monthly curation is FREE and available for anyone to take part in.
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VOLUME 8, PART 2:
FINDING PLEASURE AT THE MOVIES
When we were growing up, watching movies gave us some of our first clues about where our own desires might take us. Then again, most films we’ve watched over the years portray sex and pleasure in ways that are boring at best, harmful at worst. (So much simulated P-in-V sex!)
Our film of the month, “Marcy Learns Something New,” sets itself apart with its comedic-yet-thoughtful portrayal of a woman exploring BDSM. If you haven’t listened to Vol. 8 of the Periodical Podcast, tune in to hear how director Julia Kennelly did her research.
Our mid-month update also includes a lovely guest essay about Agnès Varda’s 1977 film “One Sings, the Other Doesn’t,” a reminder of the pleasures of art and friendship.
It all has us thinking about how we can create a little more pleasure at the margins, a little bit at a time. What would it take to make you feel good this month?
In our short film of the month, Rachel Dratch plays a widow who’s exploring her capacity for pleasure, wherever that may take her.
In a recent interview, “Secretary” director Steven Shainberg cited “Marcy Learns Something New” a “positive, recent portrayal of kinks and BDSM that he believes [is] more accurate and interesting” than most. In the words of writer Sophie Monks Kaufman, it is “a perfectly formed short film.” We can’t help but agree.
Vol. 8 of the rePRO Periodical Podcast features an interview with “Marcy Learns Something New” director Julia Kennelly.
“(The film) is something you can relate to, even if you are younger, if you feel kind of behind in your journey with sexuality or you feel like there was this expectation that you would know everything about yourself and everything about what you wanted out of sex when actually the culture didn’t ever provide that for you.” — Julia Kennelly
Sex educator Taylor Sparks on founding one of the largest BIPOC-owned sex toy retail companies in the U.S.
Now with more BIPOC women in the field of sexual education and pleasure, we have a better understanding of our rights to please and be pleased,” says Taylor Sparks, founder of sex-toy brand Organic Loven. “We’ve come to understand that we are not ‘whores’ because we seek and choose pleasure.”
The clit test is like the Bechdel Test for sex scenes
The women behind the Clit Test recently ended their project, citing a need for a more inclusive approach to “improving sex scenes.” (But not before it became part of the “Don’t Worry Darling” drama.) This 2020 article explains why they pushed for more clitoral representation at the movies.
The pleasure of friendship, time-worn and as familiar as a second skin, is the comfort and delight that is Agnès Varda’s “One Sings, the Other Doesn’t” (1977). Varda — a pioneer of the French New Wave, lifelong feminist filmmaker (her career spans from 1955-2019), and “one of the Gods of Cinema” — creates an intimate portrait of women supporting women with this musical (yes, but not in the way you think “musical”).
In 1971, France, when abortion was illegal, a 16-year -old Marie-Claire stands trial, along with her mother and three other adults who helped her, for having one. She was turned in by the man who raped her. A protest outside the court where women chant, “We’ve all had abortions, put us on trial, too!” is the setting of a joyous reunion.
SIX THINGS A MIDWIFE WANTS YOU TO KNOW ABOUT PLEASURE
Guest essayist Mychal Shifrah wants you to know that pleasure is individual, and you should be empowered to seek out the resources and tools you need to achieve it. Your north star? “Start with what feels good,” she writes.
Activists tout the power of pleasure, and capitalists do, too. Venture capital firm Amboy Street invests in companies that focus on sexual and reproductive health. In a blog post, Carli Sapir explains why Amboy invests in companies that address sexual health and pleasure with “shame-free” products and services.
In this introduction to pleasure activism, Adrienne Maree Brown quotes Audre Lorde: “In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness.” Brown urges readers to “explore what happens when you increase your attention to pleasure and the space you give it in your life. You may be surprised at the joy that unfolds.”
We love the mission of this organization: “The Pleasure Project is an international education and advocacy organization working to eroticize safer sex. We build bridges between the public health world and the pleasure and sex industry and help to develop the evidence base for a sex-positive and pleasure-based approach to sexual health and rights.”
Through film and conversation, rePRO advocates for reproductive health, justice, and bodily autonomy. We lift intersectional issues, using the power of storytelling as a catalyst for knowledge, intention, and action.