Women are used to being objectified when it comes to sex in film, on television, and even in our everyday lives, but what if the woman is the subject rather than the object? In control of the action rather than controlled by it? Such is the scenario in a new documentary called Subjectified. In this film, nine young women share their stories, helming their sexual narratives and framing them as they see fit.
The women, ranging in age from 19 to 28 are black, white, Latina, virgins, sexual abuse victims, lesbians, or bearers of community-given titles such as “slut” or “prude,” but what all of the women have in common is the willingness to share some of the most intimate portions of their sexual lives.
In an exclusive interview with theGrio, the film’s creator, Melissa Tapper Goldman said she purposely set out to get a diverse array of women for the project. “My top priority was that I wanted to take some of the tropes of women and sexuality and break them down and humanize them,” said Goldman.
Women exploring their sexuality openly
Subjectified is a feminist, sex positive film, but as many women of color have come to realize over the years, the feminist movement is not always inclusive of our voices. The intersectionality of race, class, gender and other important factors can often be left out in favor of a singular white, female, heterosexual feminist perspective.
“Women’s voices are silenced. Women of color are even more silenced and marginalized. Baked into the project’s DNA is [the goal] to give a platform to voices that are not usually heard,” said Goldman, who is Jewish and noted that she is always looking for ways to be a better ally to the marginalized.
At a recent event in New York City, feminist scholar bell hooks talked about the role of allies specifically as it relates to men in feminism. “I often question the use of the word ally. I think that sometimes it’s standing on their own beliefs, which are anti-patriarchal or anti-sexist. They are not required to be anybody’s ally. They are on their frontline in the same way that I’m on my frontline,” said hooks.
Though hooks was talking about male allies in feminism, the same could be said of white women and women of color. To her credit, Goldman is very candid about her ability to tell certain stories. “I went into all of the interviews with a real humility about my capacity to reach people and understand where they were coming from. I tried to let the interviewees take control of the conversation and let their stories be their own, but at the same time I do have to work on how I recognize my own privilege,” said Goldman.