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The Nature of Being

rethinking the facts of life

Author

Dorotea

I'm 23 years old and I come from Sardinia. I study philosophy in master and I'm interested in feminist studies and education problems. My hobbies are cooking, singing, reading, and rising… I love dogs and watching movies. Two things make me angry: a bad lunch and a bad movie. As regards the rest, I can go on with irony :)

6) The kids are all right and the mystery of love

This is my last post and I would like to conclude my observations concerning sexuality, emotions and identity by writing about a nice American 2010 comedy: The kids are all right. In that way it is possible to refer to the example of the love betrayal again, in order to show definitely that love and sexuality are quite different fields that don’t communicate always each other. From a biological point of view, the most of us is capable to do everything with anyone, sexually speaking. Often people can fill sexual desire even though they are not in love.

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In that movie, for instance, Jules cheats on her wife Nic with their sperm donor, Paul. After a few time Paul thinks he his probably falling in love with Jules and, as soon as Nic discovers the betrayal, he proposes Jules to stay with him and she answers: “I’m gay!”. That’s another clear demonstration of what I’ve affirmed in my lasts posts: our identity is not specifically a sexual one, rather an emotional one. Of course our desires can be guided by our feelings and, when it happens, it’s a proof of coherence and honesty, but what characterizes us the most is our way of loving people.

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The mechanisms of love are the secret of the human being. When it comes to sexuality, Alfred Kinsey[1] demonstrated clearly that it’s quite rear to find someone who is completely hetero/homo-sexual. The human pleasure depends on a lot of circumstances and we can fill attraction and desire for a lot of people of the both sexes. To analyse and to describe these circumstances is a scientific task. I think that, since we are used to speak about “sexual orientation” and “sexual identity”, there is an orientation in the sphere of desire and sexual imagination but I think that it is conditioned by our emotional experiences.

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For that reasons, a girl who has always fallen in love with girls in her life will describe herself as a lesbian; a boy who has always fallen in love with girl, instead, will describe himself as a heterosexual and so on. But that has an emotional reason, not a sexual one. As I’ve already written, sexuality is a symbol, is the representation of our emotional identity. It’s as if our desires were unconsciously adapted to our feelings.

But now I have to stop: „When it comes to love, we’re all in the dark[2]“.

Dorotea

The kids are all right Trailer

 

Sources:

The kids are all right. Reg. Lisa Cholodenko. Act. Julienne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska. Lucky Red, 2010. Movie.

Kinsey. Reg. Billy Condon. Act. Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O’ Donnell, Peter Saarsgard.20th Century Fox Home Entertainmen, 2004. Movie.

Notes:

[1] https://thenatureofbeingblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/when-it-comes-to-sexuality-we-are-all-in-the-dark-alfred-kinsey-and-the-human-sexual-behaviors/.

[2] Kinsey. Reg. Billy Condon. Act. Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O’ Donnell, Peter Saarsgard.20th Century Fox Home Entertainmen, 2004. Movie.

5) The emotional nature of sexuality

Today I would like to confront each other two good movies about the problem I’ve started to introduce the last times: what does it mean that sexuality doesn’t cause a determination of our identity, but rather it is a consequence of our emotional identity? I will discuss this position by showing two different examples of love betrayal: the former is narrated in the beautiful 2002 drama Far from Heaven, the latter in the involving 2009 thriller Chloe.

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Far form Heaven deals with the Withacker family in the Connecticut of ’50. Frank Withacker is an affirmed manager and Cathy is his perfect wife, mother of two children and charitable woman. But Frank dedicates himself more to his work than to his wife and Cathy is too blind to think that maybe the things could go better: only by listening the sexual confidences of her friends, she realizes that her sexual life is not satisfying and she becomes worried about the feelings of her husband. One day she decides to bring him the dinner to the office by surprise and she sees him kissing another man. After a first embarrassing time, they decide to go to a psychiatrist in order to nurse his “illness”. But after a few months Frank falls in love with a man and than he asks his wife the divorce.

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Chloe, by its own side, deals with the Stewart family in the Toronto of our times. Catherine is a respected gynaecologist and David is a brilliant music professor. Their perfect synthesis of work and love inspires friends and fans because both of them are charming personalities but David in particular. Therefore Catherine is afraid that David has an affair with someone of his students and, after a strange meeting with a beautiful young girl, she asks her to flirt with her husband in order to see how he reacts. Chloe meets David and for a few times she tells Catherine the hot details of their meetings in order to provoke her unsure mind: she makes her giving up and she seduces her. Only after a discussion with David, Catherine realizes that Chloe was interested in her since the beginning and that all the stories about her and David were invented. Then it was clear that David was still in love with Catherine and, finally, the family starts with a new beginning.

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I think that the first movie shows us clearly that sex is always possible: even though we don’t want to have it, we are able to do it (prostitutes are another example of that). So we are capable of having every kind of sexual act, but we can fall in love just with some people who have some peculiarities. In the second movie the problem is clearly an emotional one: Catherine was really seduced by Chloe, so in that moment she wanted to sleep with her but, at least, she could love just her husband. My conclusion is that our identity is not sexual-oriented rather it is emotional-oriented. What do you think about it? 🙂

Dorotea

Far From Heaven Trailer

Chloe Trailer

 

Sources:

Far from Heaven. Reg. Todd Heynes. Act. Julienne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert. Eagle Pictures, 2002. Movie.

Chloe. Reg. Atom Egoyan. Act. Julienne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried. Studio Canal, 2009. Movie

4) The meaningful realism of Nymphomaniac

This time I would like to write about another controversial movie, Lars von Trier’s 2013 dramatic and erotic movie, which is the third one of the so-called Depression-Trilogy: Nymphomaniac. This movie deals with the sexual history of a nymphomaniac woman and, just as Blue is the warmest colour, it deeply divides the critic in two parts. But this time I belong to the lover’s front!

 

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As you can see from the image, the filmmaker insists a lot on bodily and sexual details too, so as Kechiche did in his movie: Lars von Trier wanted to have in the film-poster the expressions of the main actors while having a real orgasm. So, which is the difference between these two bothersome realisms? Why do I define the sex scenes in Kechiche’s movie almost pornographic? That isn’t real sex. The actresses wear genitals prosthesis. On the contrary, in Nymphomaniac, sex is much more real: the main characters have porno-actors as body-double.

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On the other hand in Blue is the warmest colour the problem is the improbability of this magic lesbian sex: when I see those scenes, I have the feeling that the filmmaker sees the sex between two women as something really special and horny at the same time, exactly the way in which it is painted in porno movies. In Nymphomaniac there is almost every kind of sexual act but I cannot catch traces of sexism. Both men and women are showed in the same nakedness and that’s something rare, I guess: usually you see a totally naked woman but non an entirely naked man.

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Kechiche’s love story shows some lesbian sex; Lars von Trier’s movie is a sexual love story which also includes human relationships, love, loneliness, illness, humanity. In Blue is the warmest colour (homo)sexuality is something that stops the development of our identity to a physical conception: I am, as far as I have sex. What we can see in Nymphomaniac, however, is that sexuality is, of course, a relevant part of our identity, but the link between emotions, thoughts and body is much deeper analysed!

I believe that our emotive identity determines our sexual one. But I will better discuss this position in the next posts. Regarding Nymphomaniac, I say that a prove of this is that sex could also be a pathology and sometimes the reasons of that are psychological traumas, like in Joe’s case, the main character of the movie. If that is true, sexuality is an effect and not a cause of our identity.

But of course, by interpreting our body and our pleasure we can discover something deep about ourselves. During an interview Charlotte Gainsbourg, the main actress of the movie, says that if we told ourselves through our sexual life, there would be no secret anymore, because what we do sexually, represents who we are[1]. And that’s exactly what I mean: sexuality is a representation of something just as a symbol, not an identity itself. But

 

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To be continued…

Dorotea

Nymphomaniac Trailer

 

Sources:

Nymphomaniac Voll. 1-2- Reg. Lars von Trier. Act. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia La Beouf, Stacy Martin. Good Films, 2013. Movie.

http://www.vanityfair.it/show/cinema/14/04/02/nymphomaniac-charlotte-gainsbourg-intervista-foto.

Notes:

[1]  http://www.vanityfair.it/show/cinema/14/04/02/nymphomaniac-charlotte-gainsbourg-intervista-foto.

 

(3)The empty realism of the movie Blue is the warmest colour

 

„Rereading this book, as well as reading it for the first time, reshapes the categories through which we experience and perform our lives and bodies. To be troubled in this way is an intellectual pleasure and a political necessity“. Donna Haraway

Donna Haraway’s quote about Butler’s Gender Troubles is a good point from which starting to speak about the 2013 French movie Blue is the warmest colour, by the film director Abdellatif Kechiche, for two reasons: first of all I find the movie particularly bothersome in some ways that I will discuss by showing some gender troubles. Second, I think it is interesting to see not only the reasons of this bother, but also the consequences, if they are present.

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This movie has divided the public opinion in two parts: the lovers and the radical critics. What do they love and what do they hate? The funs love the normality and authenticity of a love story between two girls, Adele and Emma. The critics hate the realistic framing, in particular the pornographic insistence on sex scenes and the flatness of the characters. If these are the formations, I have to confess I belong to the critical one. Why? Why does this movie disturb me?

As far as the iper-realistic framings are concerned here’s my list: the demanding focus on bodily details, for example a mouth dirty of sauce while eating a terrible overcooked pasta (I still have to decide if it’s the former or the latter which hurts me the most); the sex between two women painted as something incredible and, finally, some considerations about the feminine orgasm.

What’s the problem? Annoying realism makes sense only if it makes you think about something important. But here there’s nothing to think about. The most important reason why people remember or know something about this movie is sex. But there are no deep dialogues and the ones that are meant to be deep, reveal some sexist prejudice: a friend of Emma, for instance, is obsessed by female orgasm and he thinks that it is 8 times stronger than the male one. About that, Mrs. Maroh, the author of the original comics, properly says: „But here we go, to sacralize once more womanhood in such ways. I find it dangerous“.

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Moreover the realism of the framings doesn’t conform to the unrealism of the story. The couple doesn’t grow up. The social and the political difficulties are almost totally ignored or, if sketched, not discussed. Only the physical passion is showed as if to say that homosexuality is just sleeping with someone of our own sex. I guess, sex is not the problem: theoretically –and physically- we all are capable to have sex with anybody. But we can fall in love just with people who have specific characteristics. People are not homo/hetero-sexual: we are homo/hetero-lovers!

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Unfortunately this movie does recall neither an intellectual pleasure nor a political necessity.

 

Dorotea

 

 

Sourses:

Blue is the warmest colour. Reg. Abdellatif Kechiche, Act. Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux, Jeremie Laehurte. Lucky Red, 2013. Movie.

https://foglianuova.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/goffredo-fofi-la-vita-di-adele/.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/movies/the-trouble-with-blue-is-the-warmest-color.html?_r=0.

http://www.oggi.it/people/programmi-tv-spettacoli/2013/10/22/adele-e-lea-kechiche-non-voleva-i-nostri-corpi-ma-la-nostra-bellezza/.

2) The invention of the vibrator: The double faces of the feminine masturbation in the movie Hysteria

 

London 1880. Mortimer Granville is a great young doctor who has difficulties in finding a job because of his progressive ideas in medicine. But England in the Victorian Age is far away from being open-minded in many ways. It is well known that the more a society lives in moral austerity, the more the human activity is considered “unmoral”. In order to prevent them from sinning many women of the high classes go to Dr Darlymple to nurse their hysteria. Defeated by the amount of work, Dr Darlymple employs the promising Dr Granville as assistant.

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At those times hysteria was the favourite diagnosis for every sort of women’s anxiety, depression, desire or worries: every kind of problem concerning women’s life was attributed to some medical troubles with their uterus. It is definitely true, as Simone de Beauvoir wrote, that if a man has no difficulty in affirming his masculinity, a woman is never allowed to do that. „One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman[1]“. A woman will be always conditioned by her innate interior biological composition. What I find interesting in this comedy is that it shows both faces of the history of feminine masturbation: the repressive and the emancipated ones.

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In a first moment it seems in fact that women sexuality could be satisfied only and totally with penetration, a natural or an artificial one. Actually all Dr Darlymple and Dr Mortimer’s patients want to alleviate their existential pains by being masturbated. But both doctors and patients are far away from thinking that they are having sex. Masturbation is not sex, is a medicine against frustration, especially for women who are mostly believed hysterical. That is to say, etymologically speaking, that they (we) think with their (our) uterus. It’s easy to solve their (our) problems: as far as you are able to stimulate her genitals you are able to make her happy and satisfy her life.

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It’s amazing to see how the perspective changes if we link, as the film director Tanya Wexler does, masturbation up to the history of the feminist movement. From a feminist point of view masturbation and vibrators are symbols of women’s autonomy against men: as far as a woman is able to find pleasure alone, she doesn’t need men. This sexual independence wants to be a representation of moral independence.

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Finally we can say that masturbation is a bivalent symbol in the history of women: it could represent either their repression or their freedom. In the first case masturbation is something that women receive passively, as a medication. In the second one it is something that women practice by themselves in order to please their own body.

 

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I hope you will appreciate the movie!

Hysteria Trailer

Dorotea

 

Sources:

Simone de Beauvoir, The second sex, Lowe and Brydone LTD: London, 1956.

Hysteria. Reg. Tanya Wexler. Act. Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rupert Everett.Bim Distribution, 2011. Movie.

Notes:

[1] De Beauvoir 1956: 273.

 

1) When it comes to sexuality we are all in the dark: Alfred Kinsey and the human sexual behaviors

 

„America is full of sexual activity but just a little part of it is legal“.

Kinsey. Reg. Billy Condon: 2004.

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Kinsey is a 2004 biographical movie based on the story of the important American biologist Alfred Kinsey (1894-1956), who did the first scientific and statistical researches about human sexual behaviours. His most famous works are Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female (1953). Kinsey’s survey was based on a data collection obtained by individual interviews -18000 circa in total- with consenting people about their sexual history. One of the most known results of these researches is that, in a range between 0-6, called the Kinsey scale, «with 0 being completely heterosexual and 6 completely homosexual[1]», a lot of people are a 3 (equally homo/heterosexual)[2]. The conclusion for Kinsey was that there is not a specific sexual orientation: it changes with time and age and it depends on a lot of circumstances.

In a great sequence of the movie there is a dialogue between Kinsey and one of his assistants and friends, Clyde:

Clyde Martin: You’ve just told me your entire sexual history […]. But there hasn’t been a single mention of love.

Alfred Kinsey: That’s because it’s impossible to measure love. And, as you know, without measurements there can be no science. […] When it comes to love, we’re all in the dark.

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I think the truth is that, from the common sense point of view, when it comes to sexuality we are in the dark too. Why? In this movie the biggest problem is religion: it shows the strong contraposition between morality and nature. How is it possible to understand what we want without feeling guilty? Being sincere and confronting with others in order to understand we are not alone. To make an example: it is proved that many overtly heterosexual women fulfil sexual desire by seeing pornographic images of both men and women, on the contrary the majority of lesbian women can feel attraction just for other women[3]. What does it mean? I believe that, sometimes, gay people know better than hetero people the shades of their sexuality, because, since the beginning, they have had to overcome social/moral prejudice in order to find it out. But discovering sexuality is always difficult and prejudice goes deeper than legality. Dealing with others gives us the power to revel prejudice.

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Discovering our sexuality is an exercise of honesty and with this movie we have the opportunity to approach human sexual behaviours, seen through really relevant scientific studies whose results are told us in an accessible way, even though, unfortunately, they are only known by few people in the academic world. This movie is one first important step to start to be sincerely peaceful with us. I really recommend the vision!

Dorotea

Trailer of Kinsey (2004)

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Sources:

Kinsey. Reg. Billy Condon. Act. Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O’ Donnell, Peter Saarsgard.20th Century Fox Home Entertainmen, 2004. Movie.

http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/index.html

http://kinseyconfidential.org

http://www.focus.it/comportamento/sessualita/le-donne-sono-sono-gay-o-bisex-mai-etero

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362269/quotes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_Reports

Notes

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_Reports.

[2] Statistic percentage data can be founded here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_Reports.

[3]http://www.focus.it/comportamento/sessualita/le-donne-sono-sono-gay-o-bisex-mai-etero.

Introduction post

„Gender is kind, syntax, relation, genre; gender is not the transubstantiation of biological sexual difference. The argument in Primate Visions works by telling and retelling stories in the attempt to shift the webs of intertextuality and to facilitate perhaps new possibilities of the meaning of difference, reproduction and survival for specifically located members of the primate order –on both sides of the bio-politics and cultural divide between human and animal“.

Donna Haraway (1990): Primate Visions. Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. Routledge, p. 337.

 

In Donna Haraway  gender is a pretext in order to investigate the way in which men build their own knowledge and, by reading her work, we can get the feeling of this web of intertextuality: gender categories, which are social categories, influence our way of life and knowing in different fields. But at the same time it’s also clear that there is a performative relationship between us and reality.

If it’s true that the way in which we know things is conditioned from historic and social dynamics, it is also true that the way in which we know ourselves can transform our own reality and life. Basically, if we are not honest with ourselves, we’ll never know who we are. But there are fields in which it’s as much difficult as important to be sincere and I think sexuality is one of these. My purpose is to investigate some reasons why is it like that.

So, what I would like to do with my 6 posts is to speak about sexuality and the hard relationship between the discovery of our sexuality and social prejudices. Often I will discuss these problems by telling and analysing the plots of some good movies that I’ve seen about that. Sometimes my observations will be presented like in a sort of film-column. What I find particularly interesting, relative to my subject, is the bond between sexuality and feminism, between sexuality and religion, and, in general, between conservative mentality and individuals freedom problems. I hope to can capture your imagination too!

Oh, I’ve forgot… My name is Dorotea, I come from Sardinia (Italy) and I study philosophy.

A nice day everyone!

Dorotea

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