Sucker Punch: Deeply Problematic.
Zack Snyder the erstwhile director of ‘Sucker Punch’ and ‘300’ has not been a director I particularly like, while I am a huge fan of ‘exploitation’ cinema, if only because it is so wonderfully flawed ‘Sucker Punch’ has left me cold.
Where do I begin, with the outfits? Maybe, alas I believe that would be to simple a place to start as accusing a male director of turning women into cheesecake is hardly a task.
No, this movie has deeper problems than that.
Sucker Punch opens with a scene of violence and possible sexual abuse by a step father against his two daughters, he kills one of them and the other gets sent to a mental institution.
This young woman, a blonde haired girl named ‘Baby Doll’ from here goes through a series of adventures leading to her escape, she does this by convincing her fellow inmates all other women, to rebel against the guards, the lead therapist (another woman) and the head of the asylum a man named ‘Blue’.
Now, here is where things get murky because as if things were not bad enough, suddenly the mental asylum is for reasons I can’t really explain is imagined as a ‘brothel’ or ‘strip club’ by our protagonist.
Here is where the problem is, ‘Baby Doll’ has been beaten and abused, sent to an asylum for wayward girls and suddenly her mental escape, her imaginary way to create her own freedom is to imagine she is in a ‘brothel’ in particular, one where women are routinely abused, beaten and killed.
Kept only as slaves.
In this scenario ‘Blue’ is the ruthless owner of the brothel and the therapist is a dance teacher, who tells them that ‘they have all the weapons they need’ which are implied to be their bodies.
She gives a message of strength, while at the same time telling them that to be able to be strong they have to take advantage of the ‘male gaze’.
So she concocts the plan to escape, which involves dancing.
Yes Dancing. They distracted the men with what are implied to be overly sexual dances.
These dances are imagined by the girls as epic battles and adventures, fights against dragons in planes, killing zombies with machine guns in First World War trenches and attacking robots from helicopters over a train in the future. All the while dressed in burlesque and overly sexualised attire.
Is this the kind of imagination one escapes too when frightened and being abused?, running off idealized male video game fantasy of women in school girl outfits (with lots of crotch shots) fighting monsters.
Oh and on all these imaginary missions (which are actually dances to distract guards and others) who is the person giving them orders and support? A man.
Zack Snyder has claimed this is his vision of female empowerment, and yes while it is good in its message, all it does is point out that the only weapons women have are our bodies.
I won’t really reveal the ending, but I will say this, even has one of our heroes escapes at the end, she gets on the bus only to be stopped by police, suddenly the bus driver intervenes. He is the man who has been giving them orders and briefing them on each of their ‘missions’ in their dance/dream sequences.
It’s a tragic trope; women can’t have their own freedom without help from men.
So sucker punch, for all its hopes and possibilities, just comes off as a deeply problematic cheesecakey romp through male fantasies of what female empowerment might look like.
This movie could have been really fun and interesting; it had promise and an interesting concept.
Instead it’s just more of the same.
Come on Hollywood, it’s time to grow up.
(Trigger Warning: Transphobia, sexism, frank discussions of sex and institutional violence.)
As a Trans-Woman who often dates other Trans-Women, I’m often asked.
What is it like for me to have sex?
This is one of those all too personal questions that comes down to the wire depending on how you feel about your own privacy.
There is a certain mythical quality to the collective representations that are The Bodies of Trans People.
Society tends look down on us as freaks if we don’t pass their guidelines for how women should look, or as sultry deceivers only out to undermine patriarchal views of masculinity and enforced heteronormativity, it seems even the news often tells us we deserve anything we get if we choose to violate those bounds.
Outside of traditional media and news reports lies the heavily fetishized version of our bodies depicted by the transsexual pornography industry. In this vision we’re labelled as ‘she-males’, ‘trannys’ and ‘sissies’, once again labelled as imposters, made to show what we ‘really’ are.
With all these forces seemingly arrayed against us is it possible to have a dialogue about the bodies, sexual identities and practices of Trans people without resorting to fetishization or demonizing.
The answer is of course yes, and relies on the common telling of stories.
The ability to talk about sensitive issues from a place of safety, anonymity and empowerment is key to having this discussion.
Within the feminist community there is an ongoing dialogue about women’s bodies that talks in a positive manner about the lack of presentation of a wide range of bodies in the media, this lesson can be taken up within the trans-feminist community to help discuss these issues.
It’s no huge secret that I as an author was heavily influenced by the Riot Grrl scene of the early 90s, despite attitudes held by some of the women involved, I still find looking back to that era hugely empowering. The radical in your face performances of the time had an effect on popular culture at the time has never really been achieved since.
We can look at what was most important about that era and say with ease that it was the way equality, diversity and voices were shown through art forms. The wonderful thing about presenting a subject through art is that it will generally leave a lasting impression.
Some of these radical discussions are already happening from the incredibly recent Girl Talk event (which sadly being a country away I did not get to attend) to awesome online projects like Fucking Transwomen.
I believe deep down that trans-women are beautiful, we’re shaped by our personal struggles and histories, beaten down at every turn and yet we survive. Because we must and because we are strong.
We come in all shapes, colours, sizes and sexual preferences. Our stories must be told if we are to ever be treated on our own terms, I firmly believe that they are also the key to escaping the false dichotomy that is ‘passing’.
There is of course the never ending pressure to conform to social expectations of how women should look, as well as the dysphoric feeling brought on by the simple fact of being a transsexual.
That dysphoria has a whole language of its own that needs to be written.
I love my body, despite its flaws it is mine and I would never trade it for another.
I spent so many years to get to this point, and will no longer pander to society by allowing myself to be forced into a position of hatred.
Every Trans-woman will have a different dialogue to bring to the table, and while we will all interface with this issue in varying ways, we are united by a common stance of mutual understanding.
The discussion needs to begin at the basics to define a language of expression, we use words like ‘dysphoria’, ‘cis’, ‘transgender’ and ‘transsexual’, words that are common place for us and yet outside of academic discussion and the feminist community, barely understood.
So it comes back to that question.
What is it like for me to have sex?
How I behave between the sheets is highly dependent on who I’m with, their sexual preferences, feelings on kink and issues of consent.
Before I have sex there is always a discussion of comfort zones, of what is on the table.
What can be touched, what can’t and how.
I have never been comfortable with penetration, so often sex with me comes down to somebody being able to move beyond the power dynamics involved in that act.
Sex is more than just orgasm; it is an act of mutual sharing and passion. To lie in bed and be truly comfortable with a partner is for me a lovely experience. That said I am comfortable enough with other people giving me orgasms, and no I don’t cum like a boy.
That is another myth that needs to be told, hormones make powerful changes to the body and most people have no idea what they are beyond the more obvious external changes.
At the end of the day sex for us is more than just genitals, the assumption that sex has to involve genitals or even penetration is one of the most horrible assumptions placed upon sex by the collective standard of heterosexuality.
There is no one way to have sex, just as there is no one way to love.
We as a community are in a position to be able to have this discussion, to dispel the myths of trans bodies, we just need to do it.
Who is Samantha Razor?
Samantha is a 26 year old trans-woman who studies sociology somewhere in Australia.
She has Aspergers, bipolar and many other labels. In her spare time she writes and plays piano.
She thinks she can change the world.
A long time ago I was a poor kid who was lonely, so I decided hey! Look! The Internet! it will be fun!
The internet community has been my playground for over a decade, I’ve got accounts on Digg, Reddit, Deviantart, twitter, facebook etc etc etc I’ve been on irc netowrks such as freenode, austnet, dalnet, quakenet, hell if there was an irc network I’ve been on it.
On top of this, I play video games REGULARLY WoW, Star Trek:Online, battlefield (et al), tf2, on and on.
And everywhere I go I’m either forced to use a male nick to avoide notice, or if I do identify myself as female risk ‘Tits or GTFO’ ‘Omg a girl on the inernet’ ‘omg pics!’.
Can you imagine how this might make me feel? Hurt, isoltated and TOTALLY objectified.
This is not funny, it’s not a meme, it’s not ‘hilarious’ and i’m certainly not a ‘bitch who cant take a joke’ or who has a ‘’omfg pms much’ (got that one more than I can count).
I’m sick of memes about racism, I’m sick of guys in vent saying ‘OMG RAPED!’ when they kill somebody easily in a game. I’m sick of gay slurs and guys calling each other faggots.
I’m sick of all kinds of this shit.
Now I could post logs of examples, or I could just tell you the story of what happened today.
I was in a regular Bad Company 2 match on one of the 3fl Western Australian servers (best ping, usually they are pretty okay in terms of people). I use the nick ‘Samanth0r’ when I’m online in games or on irc. Sometimes this gets picked up as female sometimes it doesn’t. My name is Samantha so it seemed appropriate.
now today, i get a private message in game with this guy sending me his phone number, asking about my body, and requesting sexual favours. I get angry and chastise him in open channel, he says ‘omg I trolled you so hard lol!’.
this isn’t cool. Trolling isn’t funny, It’s not respectable, And i’m over it.
It’s no better than grade school teasing and it’s being acted out by so called ‘responsible’ adults online everyday in most every community.
Every day, being a woman online in male dominated communities I get chastised for being a woman, or at least I feel like it because whenever I assert myself I either get called a bitch or told to shut up.
When I call out guys on behaviour I think is really offensive, I get shouted at.
Online I am under constant threat of being turned into an object.
I’m tired of it.
I can’t do it anymore.
I’ll keep up my blogging, I’ll be on msn, I’ll be on the places you would expect to find me, but irc and gamming communities I’m out.
Now you can tell me that this is behaviour that should be ‘put up with’ and that ‘its the internet’ but let’s be honest here, i don’t have to put up with that in my daily life in REAL LIFE why should I or WANT TO put up with it online? Why should I even need to?
You’re asking me to accept that I’m an object and that I have no voice.
That’s a breach of everything I hold dear to myself and the human race.
Maybe it’s time a lot of internet communities re-examine their behaviour, many of them wonder why they can’t get female members? Is it do hard to realise why when the first thing you ask for is a picture of our breasts? or for ‘proof’?
Why can’t we just be members of a community known for our knowledge, our abilities and our own voices?
Why internet communities, where so many of you value equality, justice, liberty and the right to choose, suddenly shout down women’s voices? Make sexist jokes at the slightest urging? Berate women’s opinions when we stand up for ourselves and then claim biological determinism as an argument for your hatred (I’m looking at you reddit and digg).
I’m tired, I’m sick of fighting just to have a voice and I’m sick of being treated like a second class citizen. But not just me, I’m sick of womens treatment online, the treatment of minorities, GLBT people, women and men of colour, hell I’m just tired of the unaccepting attitudes that are so dominant among even the smallest irc channels top the largest networks.
Why do you hate us? Why is it fun to make fun of us?
I’d love an answer if you’ve got one.
In peace, Samantha Davies
And one last thing, to those of you who do think as I do (I know there are even some men out there who do in these communities) why are you often unwilling to stand up against the crowd? It just hurts yourself and others if you stay silent.
The sign next to it says:
So I wrap my fingers slowly one by one around the solid plastic shaft of the thing and slowly..ever so slowly pull it out of the orifice and guide right down the sweet spot…
Straight to asile number 5 of the market hall.
And the trolley squeaks and squeals as I push it.
I pass by a hot little two seat number being wanton in it’s displays of affection as an young blonde pulls herself off from its midriff ..ahhhh the sofa department there truly is nothing better.
I stop..catching something out the corner of my eye above a beautiful Kalskörnd wall shelf, coyly. I walk over to it and run my hands along the edge of her curvy metal body..ooh she’s gorgeous and the sticker oh the sticker she’s only 12.95 I pull the lamp off the shelf and stick it into the waiting hole that is my shopping trolley.
Breathing hard I slam the trolley down into the display gallery, it feels like coming..coming home.
I feel myself get forced down onto the red porcelain counter top of the Terisfäld Kitchen Unit. My hands move slowly along the rim admiring with all my sense the beauty of its matching panel with beautiful inlaid silver door handles. Gods..they are hot. I need to have them.
I write down the name and price on the handy provided pad and slip myself away towards the market halll.
Toys galore, all shapes colours and sizes..oh and the texture on those rugs mmmm
Dashing I run to smother myself in the glorious faux silk Anshantad Curtain/Rug Set..its even got ribbing on the rod… oh my…
Suddenly, I’m overcome…and I need to buy. Out comes my debit card and ooh ooh CHA CHING…..
I want to get dirty, gritty.
I want to talk about my orgasms.
I want to talk about my body.
I want to talk about sex.
And I want to talk about these things in a positive manner.
I’m sick of hearing the negatives talked about when it comes to trans bodies, because honestly the positives far outweigh them.
Not often do transsexuals talk about their bodies.
When we do, it’s often in vague terms such as ‘well its just so much better’ or ‘so much more right’.
While those statements are all true they leave out the nitty gritty hormone changes.
Everyday as a trans-person I am put down by what OTHER PEOPLE have to say about MY body.
Well I really don’t like it, and it needs to be talked about in am empowering body positive manner.
Yes, sometimes I hate my body sometimes, because I can feel so stuck between male and female.
But it honestly has positives.
Like most women, it leaves us relatively hairless.
I myself do not have any body hair, except in the usual places under my arms, on my legs, my crotch and of course my head.
I have breasts, tits, boobs, mammaries. Call them what you will. I have them.
My breasts developed at the same rate as they normally do in genetic women in puberty, but trans women can expect half a cup size or less than their parents or siblings. This is not always the rule though. My nipples developed as did my areolae.
My breasts are really sensitive and very much an organ of touch and feeling.
Like most women, they also can get sore for various reasons.
They are shaped like breasts, look like breasts, feel like breasts and according to my wonderful partner great to play with.
So that covers the subject of tits.
Sometimes I’m surprised people aren’t more aware of these things.
I’ve had all kinds of questions during my life about my body and mostly the continual asking.
PISSES ME OFF.
lets talk touch, my skin is ALOT more sensitive than it used to be.
For men, skin is like armor. Protection.
For women, its an organ of sensation and feeling.
My body responds to touch now in the same way a cis-woman’s body does.
Erogenous zones in all the usual places.
Post orgasm, my whole body is alive with feeling.
Yeah what about those, orgasms.
I don’t cum like a boy, no white juices spitting everywhere.
I get very wet. But it depends on my mood. And yes my penis while still getting erect tends to react to stimulation very differently than it used to.
The so called ‘head’ essentially now acts like a clitoris for me and vibration on the ‘shaft’ produces a wonderful sense of well…honestly I can’t describe it.
Sex is like that though.
My orgasms are more diffused and tend to radiate throughout my body.
Where-as before they felt very centralised and were over in seconds followed by immense tiredness.
Now? I go tingly all over and always get a desire to cuddle and be near the person I’m with.
A need to be with the other person.
Anyway that about covers that.
I have a butt, and do enjoy anal sex.
My partner owns a strap-on for this express purpose.
I have a ‘p-spot’, may as well use it for something.
I have curves above my hips, smooth skin.
As Brian Molko of placebo said, the important part is the ‘breasts and all the rest’.
The fact I’m pre-op? its just semantics.
One day i’ll be post op, and my self esteem will feel better and so will sex.
For now, I’ll use what I have and live with it. I can do that. Sometimes it makes me cry.
What I need for you to do though, is not to make a big deal about it.
Because that is what makes life harder for women like myself.
And all trans people. We have no need to put up with your nitpicking out bodies and calling us out because we are perhaps incomplete.
So don’t get freaked out just because trans women have penises.
Because in the end when you get down to it.
Women are more than just a hole in their crotch.
It’s the overall matter of BEING that is far more important.