Fast TImes at Ridgemont High - The SSL Review
In case you haven't been reading this blog, the SSL review is a review specifically focused on how a movie treats depictions and discussions of female sexual functioning and pleasure. So basically what happens is I watch movies all the time. Lot's of those movies don't ever depict or discuss orgasms, ejaculations or any aspect of female sexual pleasure, but when one does - no matter how old or obscure - I gotta give it the ol' SSL Review. That's why I feel fine reviewing a movie that's almost 30 years old. It may have been reviewed before - but never SSL reviewed. That being said, I watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Netflix the other day, and here is the SSL review.
I liked the teen-movie-but-with-grit style. It had all the fun of adolescent hi jinks, but hit some serious topics with all the drama, posing, indifference, and carelessness that teens bring to their lives. Now when it came to female sexual pleasure I think the teen realism continued, mainly because there wasn't really any orgasms but there was some swag.
There are 2 points in the movie where a lady was depicted during a sexual encounter and 2 points in which ladies discussed sexual encounters in a way that eluded to pleasure. Both sexual encounters involved Jennifer Jason Leigh's character, Stacy Hamilton. She, who is supposed to be 15 in this movie, meets a 26 year old stereo salesman, lies about her age, and goes on a date with him to a make-out place - something like a dugout. They make-out for a minute, and then she lays back and they have intercourse - her first time. She is largely passive in the actual act, laying there while he thrusts. We are looking down at her face when she is entered, and we see the sort of pain on her face, and we also see her visual perspective as the sex is happening - the cement above her with graffiti. The scene is good because I think it resonates with a lot of women's experiences - sex as a not unwilling, but passive, confusing, and slightly painful experience. There is also that sense of being unengaged, of remembering what was on the ceiling above you instead of the sensations of the act itself, an act that is always touted as being the most intense, exciting, amazing experience of a person's life.
Later we see her having sex with a boy a bit closer to her age, probably 17 or 18. She takes him into her family's pool house to change, and gives him the ol' sex signals. He kind of reluctantly accepts (his BFF is totally in love with her), and they both undress. He lays on top of her, enters her, comes, and gets up to leave in a matter of about a minute. The scene is a little different this time. She does seem confused that he gets up and leaves so quick, but we don't feel her boredom/vague fright that we felt during her first sexual experience.
In neither of these instances does Stacy orgasm or even seem to feel physical pleasure. I like this, because it is realistic. What is happening in these scenes is not anything that would elicit much pleasure, much less an orgasm. The speed of these acts would hardly even allow her to lube up (hence the pain), and they were solely acts of intercourse - which, as you may already know, are not about to make the ladies come. It is not uncommon in other movies to see things that absolutely would not elicit an orgasm for a woman - do just that, so I appreciate thess realistic depictions.
After each of these experiences, Stacy talks to her mall pizza place co-worker Linda (Phoebe Cates) who is a couple years older and seems to be much more sexually experienced (seemingly with her college boyfriend that we never see). After the first experience when Stacy says that it hurt, Linda tells her to keep trying - it will get better.
Linda: So tell me, do you like Ron?
Stacy: I like Ron, but it hurt so bad.
Linda: Don't worry. Keep doing it.
It gets a lot better. I swear.
Stacy: It better.
Later after the pool house experience, Stacy and Linda have the following exchange.
Stacy: Linda, how long does Doug take?
Linda: Doug takes forever
Stacy: Come on.
Linda: He takes uh...20 to 30 minutes
Stacy: I thought you said he took 30 to 40 minutes
Linda: That's right. I'm sorry. I meant 30 to 45 minute. How log did Damone take?
Stacy: Damone took, uh...15 to 20 minutes
Linda: That's not bad for a high school boy
(the actual minutes weren't in the script I was quoting from, but they are all in the right ball park for the quote in the movie - netflix took Fast Times off of the watch instantly list)
I like the latter conversation in a way and I dislike it in another. The dislike comes because the content of this conversation feeds into the idea that what women want and need (presumably to get their orgasm) is a penis with some staying power - the ol' 30 to 60 minute drill if you know what I mean. It also plays into the idea that teenage and/or sexually inexperienced males haven't acquired the skill of longevity...and that's the reason that teenage and/or girls partnering with inexperienced guys are not enjoying sex. This hides the fact that it's not the male inexperience robbing ladies of their orgasms. It is the lack of any clitoral stimulation. 40 minutes of ramming into the vagina (as we are to believe the "experienced" men are capable of) is not going to help with that
However, I like the conversation because it feels real. It is full of the lady sex swagger bullshit that is not only prevalent in teens but in the lady world at large. "My man lasts all night." "I had 25 orgasms in one go." etc. etc. We ladies are no different than men. We're kind of ignorant about how a woman's supposed to orgasm during sex but we want our friends to think we're sexperts. Our sex swagger just takes on a little different form because banging 30 people in a week is not as much as a prestige for women as it is for men. The prestige ladies want and what we lie and brag about is our ability to orgasm - excessively - and our partner's ability to make us come (which we assume is by banging us for extraordinarily long periods of time). I may be going out on a limb here, but I venture to say that this is because those things are fantasies that ladies would like to be true but are largely not true during partnered sex.
The first conversation between Linda and Stacy, is hot and cold for me too. In one way it plays to the common assumption that a female's first time having sexual intercourse will hurt cause that's just how it is. Now people...I'll admit the hymen may break. However, even if a girl's hymen hasn't already been silently broken during normal activities and sports during her life, the breaking of the hymen is not really the hurty part (just the bloody part). The hutry part comes from 3 main things; 1. lack of lubrication 2. lack of vaginal lengthening - both due in most cases to lack of arousal, and 3. excessive tensing of the vaginal muscles - probably due to the fact that she's not too comfortable with this sex idea at that moment. To me that says that the first time often hurts not simply because it is the first time, but because she is physically unaroused or because she is tense as a result of not being ready to have intercourse - either with that person, or at that time in her life, or at this time in the sex act. We should be insinuating to girls that sex should not hurt the first time and if it does, you're probably doing it badly.
At the same time, it is very real. The sex many of us actually experienced, the first time and sometimes after, often does hurt and does seem uneventful. Girlfriends do talk about it as if this were as natural as anything. No one seems to think it's odd. When we watch Linda and Stacy talk, it feels both completely true and completely ridiculous. Even if we couldn't quite describe what exactly is so ridiculous about the discussion, I think we all know deep down how ridiculous it is. I think most women have been in the similar awkward situation of talking about sex, hearing about sex, knowing about sex, and expecting from sex something that doesn't logically arise from our experiences with sex - yet somehow - unconsciously making up whatever we need to - to bridge those gaps. It's easier than questioning what you and everyone else already "knows".
So what I'm saying is that although this movie adds to the culture of incorrect depictions of how women might enjoy or reach orgasm during sex, it is also a depiction of females discussing sex that seems to be genuinely from a female perspective - something that is rare in Hollywood, and that is to be appreciated.
This movie gets 3 vulvas.