#FemalePleasure Movie Review (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

In their documentation #FEMALE PLEASURE Director Barbara Miller talks to five women who all experienced sexual violence and oppression. The theme is honorable, but the director fails to make universal connections to the present. We reveal more about this in our review.

That’s what it’s about

Five courageous, smart and self-determined women are at the center of Barbara Miller’s documentary “#Female Pleasure”. They break the taboo of silence and shame that society or their religious communities with their archaic-patriarchal structures impose on them. With an incredibly positive energy and strength, Deborah Feldman, Leyla Hussein, Rokudenashiko, Doris Wagner and Vithika Yadav advocate for sexual education and self-determination for all women, across all social and religious norms and barriers. They pay a high price for this – they are publicly defamed, persecuted and threatened, they are rejected by their former environment and even threatened with death by religious leaders and fanatical believers. “#Female Pleasure” is a film that describes how universal and transcending all cultural and religious boundaries are the mechanisms that still determine the situation of women – regardless of their social form – today. At the same time, the five protagonists show us how you can change any structure with courage, strength and joy of life.

Movie explanation of the ending

Many of us only became aware of #MeToo last year. It’s actually been around for a lot longer – it was launched in 2006 by women’s activist Tarana Burke on the online platform MySpace. But at that time no celebrities were involved in the campaign. It was completely different in 2017, when media mogul Harvey Weinstein found himself at the center of an abuse scandal that revealed what everyone had long known behind closed doors: Hollywood is ruled by men who not only have significantly more say here than women, but also earn more and get the bigger roles. In addition to Weinstein, more people (preferably men) gradually found themselves targeted by similar accusations. The list of harmed women is also growing; Acting greats such as Reese Witherspoon and Rosario Dawson also announced that they had come into contact with Weinstein’s questionable working methods. But if #MeToo has achieved one thing, it is creating sensitivity to gender equality. We will certainly come across films like “#Female Pleasure” or the related “Embrace – You’re Beautiful” and “Touch Me Not”, which are also about a certain self-image of physicality, more often in the future.

Deborah Feldman left the ultra-Orthodox Jewish society a few years ago and has been persecuted ever since.

For “#Female Pleasure” the Amnesty International award-winning director interviewed Barbara Miller (“Forbidden Voices”) five women who serve as case studies for the fact that in many parts of society the female body is still taken for granted today. This happens either in the name of faith, out of misunderstood shame or out of bloodthirsty traditions; So there is always a reason, even if it is highly questionable. All of these fates are highly dramatic; the emotional scars can still be seen in Miller’s interviewees today and are not denied by the women. Sometimes they even break down crying in front of the camera. This has nothing to do with sensationalism. The protagonists have simply experienced terrible things, so there is no need for any additional exaggeration. So the anger that “#Female Pleasure” fuels is appropriate and real at all times. But despite all this emotionality, their fates are sometimes difficult to relate to the omnipresent reality (only in the first ten minutes do we see how female-sexualized advertising from major fashion houses, for example, is). A plea for women’s sexual self-determination turns into a film against religions and traditions. This is undoubtedly also appropriate. No tradition in the world justifies female genital mutilation. But in the long run it also takes the focus away from the essentials.

“#Female Pleasure” tells of a woman who left her Jewish community after the birth of her son and has been persecuted ever since, of a young Japanese woman who had to answer in court for having made a plaster cast of her genitals, and of an Indian woman , who was the first in her family to be allowed to decide freely about her spouse and has been committed to women’s sexual needs ever since. Leyla Hussein, who lives in London, also talks about how her genitals were mutilated as a child, just as the USA Doris Wagner reports about her time in a Catholic monastery, where she was severely abused several times. How serious both the director and the protagonists are about their concerns can be seen in the openness with which both parties approach each other. The five women report their experiences relentlessly – and Barbara Miller simply watches and listens. She takes a lot of time for each one of them and doesn’t just reduce them to their suffering, but also looks at their entire background. In addition, she relies on verses from the Bible, Torah and Koran that are clearly in favor of women as the weaker sex, recordings from sex shops in Japan that are aimed exclusively at men, and Indian legal texts and judgments to show how diverse female oppression is Ethnicity to ethnicity and religion to religion. But with the exception of the opening scene, there is no connection to current events in the world; “#Female Pleasure” is nothing more than a (although undoubtedly very intense) portrait of a woman.

Rokudenashiko had to answer in court for her vagina boat performance.

Unlike the documentary “Embrace,” co-produced by Nora Tschirner, Barbara Miller’s film fails to link the origins of the image of women with that of today. At most, the extent to which guidelines in religious scriptures are the origin of all evil is mentioned in subordinate clauses because they have not been properly questioned by strict believers to this day. This is one of many approaches that Miller could have taken much further. And so sometimes the impression actually arises that women who neither belong to a religion nor live in a particular country nor have fallen victim to sad traditions have been lucky; In any case, they don’t need to fear sexual oppression. Such a “so it doesn’t affect me” reaction, however much it may misinterpret the film, couldn’t be more misplaced. The title of the film is also misleading, because the female interest in sexuality is at best a secondary concern (and predominantly in the episode about the Indian Vithika Yadav). Miller’s statement that with “#Female Pleasure” she wants to rebel against the demonization of female pleasure through religion and social restrictions is more apparent in theory than in the film itself. But you have to give her credit for one thing: in her documentary, the victims themselves have their say. And this gives viewers a particularly touching insight into how women are still persecuted, ostracized or defamed today. However, it would have been even better if male voices had also had their say. This is the only way to ultimately achieve the desired exchange on a topic that concerns everyone.

Conclusion: Barbara Miller’s “#Female Pleasure” is primarily a portrait of five women who have experienced sexual abuse, oppression and persecution. The film describes their experiences very carefully and completely free of sensationalism, but unfortunately the director refers too much to their fates in the respective parts of society and fails to link them with the current social structural problems.

“#Female Pleasure” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from November 8th.

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