Home > Uncategorized > Why a blog about gender?

Why a blog about gender?

A friend recently started a blog designed to discuss his love of cinema alongside his love of religion. That is, not necessarily looking at specifically Christian based movies, but drawing on his own Christian perspective to illuminate his love of both popular and art house cinema, much of which could be called humanist or atheist. I myself am strongly atheistic but I loved the idea of taking an approach that is deeply personal and important in your life and using it as a window to understanding cinema and your cinematic experiences. After all, my understanding of art and culture are that they are a) a product of the culture from which they emerge (which includes Christian experiences in the case of most western movies) but also b) largely defined by one’s individual understanding and experiences. So, whilst a director’s, producer’ss, cinematographer’s etc input is fundamental to the finished product, a movie’s essence is equally very much defined by what the viewer personally brings to it.

Elsewhere on the internet I was once known for reading movies in a vehemently political way and many of my online adversaries in the past have felt that I am easily led into judging the quality of a movie according to its political ideals. Although I do have a kneejerk love/hate relationship with some ideologically backward films, I continue to believe that qualitative judgments of movies is subjective and ultimately meaningless outside of my own sense of personal satisfaction. Political readings of movies continue to  fascinate me and if a film’s politics lead me to be vitriolic about something well loved and nostalgic, I’ll continue to not apologise for pouring out my scorn. I’ll also continue to be open to counter arguments as to why a movie I found uninteresting is actually worthy of my time. Ultimately what I’m interested in is uncovering and decoding the messages and ideas within a movie in order to see how that movie both illuminates our cultural practises or how it might advance or conflict with them. Through doing this I believe that we can come to understand our own places within culture and society that much better and we can ultimately understand and communicate with other people better.1

This blog is a project mostly for myself, but the reason I think that my own personal place within western society is interesting and that there might be others out there interested in my random musings, is that I feel I inhabit a gender space that is, whilst far from unique, under-represented and not very well culturally understood. I’d say misunderstood – which may or may not be true – but the truth is I feel that it has been brushed under the carpet to an extent that people don’t really acknowledge its existence enough to even misunderstand it. I am a bisexual male2 who completely denies the existence of (non-biological) masculine/feminine binaries3 and feels uncomfortable with the notion of society defining me and my relationships with others through the concept of gender.4 As such I also consider myself to be strongly feminist and I am deeply uncomfortable – as a male – with the dominant power relationships men have and continue to set up for themselves over women in society. On the flip side of that I feel that all aspects of physical sex and sexuality should be celebrated and indulged in without reprisal or judgement. Our sexual practices have been defined and restricted by an insistence on enforcing gender types i.e. just consider the notion that a girl who sleeps around is branded a “slut”, whilst a male doing so is something of a hero amongst his peers, or perhaps the notion we grow up with of marrying, settling down and having children.

If genuinely feminist films are few and far between within Hollywood, movies aimed at a bisexual audience are even fewer. One of my interests will be in digging both of these out and/or looking at movies that illuminating societies attitudes towards feminism, queerness and especially bisexuality. These movies do exist but often – since movies are about making money and audiences are still apprehensive about taking these ideas on board – they are a little more coded or buried. It’s a lot of fun pulling them out.

A word of warning:  I’m the last person to shy away from watching and enjoying a movie on the basis of gratuity or apparently surface exploitation and this blog is likely to cover explicit sexuality of all kinds5 and contain discussions of movies that are very frank and explicit about sex and violence.

1I love popular movies and Hollywood blockbusters . However, to that end I am aggressively anti film-watching habits that neglect arthouse movies and foreign film. Not liking subtitles is no excuse. Watching a film properly is a two way process and the viewer to some extent needs to be viewing actively, not passively. That’s not to say that one can’t enjoy watching films passively a lot of the time. I certainly do, I’m simply noting that one can’t fully appreciate a movie through a passive viewing of it.

2 A lot of people would take issue with this since, being in a monogamous relationship for a period of 15 years I’ve only so far slept with women. Each to their own but I’d label a virgin who is attracted to women as a heterosexual and my attraction to certain types of male seems to me to be enough to convince myself that I’m not straight…

3It’s a long winded discussion. To some extent I accept the rejoinder that woman have different bodies, they give birth, they have periods and PMS etc etc and this will define their experiences slightly differently from their masculine counterparts. What I don’t accept is that these biological differences are significant enough or restricting in terms of one defining oneself existentially. It is societies restrictions that limit our ability to carve out our own niches. As a feminist I am very much indebted to Simone de Beauvoir for enlightening me.

4Most people assume that I’m a heterosexual male since I don’t advertise my queerness on my sleeve and I’m increasingly uncomfortable with that. I’m also quite uncomfortable with the notion that I should make a point of telling people when I meet them. Most people genuinely don’t really care either way, but the assumptions that people make about each other fascinate me.

5I’m lying. There will be no frank examination of 2 girls one cup. My tastes don’t really run to that, though I confess I’m slightly intrigued that some people’s do. Or am I just horrified?

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