The Holiday - The SSL Review

It's not the holidays, nor is it that I just happened to catch this holiday movie recently. It is simply that I remembered a line from it and thought I should blog about it before I forgot. There are no specific depictions or discussions of female sexual release to critique, but the line I remember is still a poignant indication of our culture's understandings, expectations, and fantasies about female sexuality.

The Holiday is about 2 women wanting to escape their lives (particularly their love lives) for the holidays who end up deciding to do a vacation house swap. Diaz, the high-powered movie trailer director with a beautiful, modern LA mansion goes to the English country side to stay in Winslet's cute little cottage, and Winslet goes to enjoy the LA living. Of course, they both find love interests, conflicts arrive, etc. It's a Hollywood form movie, but I won't knock it. If these kinds of Hollywood form movies are the kind you enjoy on a Saturday afternoon (cause we all have a type that we'll watch no matter how bad), then you'll probably like this one. This is definitely my type, and it was actually quite an enjoyable watch.

But let's get back to the SSL review... Diaz is chillin' in the English cottage, when Winslet's brother arrives drunk, to catch some Z's on his sister's couch. They're both a little surprised - cause he didn't know his sister had swapped houses, and she didn't expect the woman's brother to show up and spend the night. However...why not?! They drank a little, talked a little and decide to go to bed. Oh, did I mention the brother is Jude Law, and he's hot. So, Jude kisses her goodnight on the lips, and she says  that since she's on vacation, they should probably do it. Before they head up to get it on though, she says her boyfriend said she's not good at sex, and Jude absolutely cannot believe that. He asks her what she thinks of foreplay, and she tells him it's overrated. He's way totally cool with that...and end scene. It is then the next morning, and we can't be sure about what may or may not have happened, but Jude does tell her she is not bad at sex BTW.

So we have a hot woman who just wants to fuck - the ol' in and out, ya know? Finally, (Jude must be thinking) a woman who is man enough and sexual enough to see how silly and unnecessary all that romantic bullshit foreplay crap is  - I mean finally, a woman who gets it! Honestly, though, I think that is the sentiment there. It's like foreplay is a woman thing that men have to do in order to get what they want. Foreplay is looked at like the thing that women, being the less sexual of the genders, need to warm them up for the real stuff. A woman who doesn't need the foreplay, like Diaz, is prized as a woman who got over the womanly tendency to need warming up. She's sexual. She has sex like a man.

Here's the problem though. That's a completely backassward understanding of women's sexual needs. I'll say this for the 500th time. Women do not orgasm
from intercourse alone. If they do get off while a penis is inside them, it's because they are also stimulating their clit. THE CLIT IS THE ORGAN OF FEMALE SEXUAL PLEASURE - NOT THE VAGINA. The things we designate as foreplay in this culture, like oral, vibrator, and manual stimulation of the clitoris, are the actual things that cause orgasm in women. Our culture prizes the sexual activity that easily gets a man off (intercourse) and sees the things that actually get women off (clitoral stimulation) as "warming-up," beFORE play, or simply unnecessary silly things that less sexual women need.

I think this idea of powerful or highly sexual women who "have sex like a man" is quite counterproductive to creating a society that prizes the kind of sexual activities that give women orgasmic sexual pleasure. These media created "sexual" women are the kind of women we see in porn and porn inspired mainstream media. They are the most sexual women we are exposed to; women who love to be slammed and orgasm from it. However, these women are non-existent in real life.

Don't be surprised, but women fake their orgasms in porn almost always. Men don't, but women absolutely do. So the deal is, this line in this movie that glorifies the idea of women who only want intercourse as part of their sexual experience is highly annoying to me. What I would have loved to see, and what would be much more of a realistic indicator of a powerful and sexual woman, is for Diaz to have answered the foreplay question as follows, "Foreplay's my main course, baby! You don't mind me rubbing my clit while we fuck, right?"

I give this movie 1 vulva out of 5. It was a backward step for our cultural expectations of women in bed.

Just an end note for history buffs - You'll see in our movie (but you can also read about this - and I highly recommend you do -  in more detail in the book American Sexual Character) that foreplay was coined in the time after WWII when America "learned" that married women could and should orgasm. It was literally used to describe the clitoral stimulation that a good husband should use to get his wife ready for intercourse - so that she is more likely to get the mature "vaginal orgasm" during intercourse (like she should). Foreplay was not meant to actually make her orgasm, a "clitoral orgasm" was discouraged (thanks Freud - you asshole). Foreplay was truly just play beFORE the main (inter)course.

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