Week 4- Avant Garde

Chris Straayer’s writing in “The She-Man: Postmodern bi-sexed performance in film and video brought up a number of interesting points on the different treatment of female and male sexuality and their respective implications on depictions of bi-sexed performance. I was particularly interested in the idea that in contrast to the male phallus, the female sex organ is considerably less identifiable, thus making the “geography of her pleasure” much more “diversified, more multiple in its differences, more complex, more subtle than commonly imagined.” Thus, unlike male desire, female desire is viewed to be more complex and demanding. This made me think about gendered tropes in our society that depict men as purely sexual beings whereas women are perceived as over-complicated. As Straayer quotes Luce Irigaray, “Their desire is often interpreted, and feared, as a sort of insatiable hunger, a voracity that will swallow you whole.” Furthermore, Straayer brings up the point that images of women’s sexuality are often the result of male projection (266). This brought to mind the controversy surrounding the oral sex scene in Blue Valentine. Many involved in the film protested the initial NC17 rating by citing sexist standards of sexuality. Ryan Gosling criticized the MPAA in an open letter for “supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purpose” and censoring “a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex” (Watkins).

One particular thought I had about the Thomas Waugh reading was that many of the characteristics identified in the “female females” reminded me of Bette Davis’s character in All About Eve. As Waugh writes, “Warhol women are conceived and operate with a specific gay male orality, competing with the biological men.” Waugh brings up the “historic gay audience pattern of intense identification with screen women.” As we discussed in class, this is one of the aspects that add to the perception of All About Eve as a queer film despite its lack of overt queer narrative.


Straayer, Chris. “Chapter 4: The She-Man: Post-Modern Bi-Sexed Performance in Film and Video.” Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies: Sexual Re-Orientation in Film and Video. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996: p. 79 – p. 101.

Waugh, Thomas. “Cockteaser.” Pop Out: Queer Warhol. Jennifer Doyle, Jonatahn Flatley, and Jose Esteban Munoz (eds.). Durham: Duke University Press, 1996: p. 51 – p. 77.


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