Week 11 Response

All Those Fucking Movies covers a fraught history of explicit and graphic sex in cinema and how those representations impressed upon the audience watching them. In many ways, “unsimulated sex,” as author Nick Davis puts it, has created a counterpublic space in queer filmmaking that defies antiquated notions about exactly what sex is or what is constituted as “real” sex. He calls into question why movies like Shortbus have generated academic discourse on the topic while explicit lesbian sex scenes went largely unnoticed. When Davis asks, “whose pleasures and which practices count or don’t count as ‘sex’?”, the most immediate answer that comes to mind is: queer and lesbian sex. He explains later in the paper the phallocentrism of cinema and how filmmakers (and the people that watch them) equate “real” sex with the presence/penetration of a penis, an equation that “[enforces] but also [exposes] its own chauvinist and heteronormative premises (Davis 633). Sex between two women, or more broadly sex between two people that do not possess male genitalia, is often delegitimized as less “real” than sex that is phallically penetrative. There is a persistence in lesbian and/or queer films to include phallic objects or aggressive penetration in their sex scenes in order to reinforce the “realness” of the sex act. In Boys Don’t Cry, the sex between the two love interests is only complete when Lana orgasms from some form of digital penetration; in Blue is the Warmest Color, the sex is uncharacteristically aggressive and involves many explicit positions that look more stimulating visually than in reality.  Brokeback Mountain‘s sudden sex scene that involves unlubricated anal penetration is another example of a queer film enforced by a code of “realness” that is determined by phallic penetration and its raw aggression in order to be deemed by audiences as “real”. Acts of oral stimulation, heavy petting, dry humping, or any “non-explicit” sex act (that doesn’t take place before more legitimized forms of sex) are often missing in queer cinema, and therefore work to enforce heteropatriarchal modes of thought about sex, gender, and bodies.

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