Saturday Night Fever - The SSL Review

Saturday Night Fever
I remember catching this movie on late night TV sometime in my late teens or early 20's. I'd only really known it as the whole BeeGees-John Travolta-Disco Dancing Point Move thing. Turns out, it's a dark, gritty movie, and I really liked it. Also, like for real, Travolta's dancing is more than that point move he did. He's a stone cold fab dancer. Anyway, saw it on Amazon Prime a couple nights ago, and decided to give it a re-watch. Still very much enjoyed it - even with all the rapey-ness and actual rape in it (I don't remember how I related to those scenes when I first saw it, but now I feel like they seem particularly poignant about how women are forced to traverse our sexual and romantic culture. I don't think the movie plays these lightly, but I also wonder how these scenes were perceived in 1977 when the movie came out).

There was also a lady-gasm scene in this movie, and so lucky me/lucky you, I get to SSL Review it.

The SSL Review Review
Here's a quick summary of an SSL Review for newbies. An SSL Review is a critique of depictions or discussions of female masturbation, female orgasm, or the clit. I only review those scenes - not the movie as a whole (unless I feel like talking about more), and I focus mostly on the realism of the depiction/discussion and also how it fits into a larger cultural discussion of female orgasm and sexuality.

Check all the SSL Review movies HERE and TV SSL Reviews HERE.

Lady-gasm Through A Car Window
Let me set the scene. Travolta (Tony) and his friends go to this disco in their home area of Brooklyn every weekend. They all drive in one car, and as they are getting out of the car to start their disco night, we hear them remind each other that they get 5 minutes in the car for fucking and then the next guy gets his turn. So, stuff happens in the disco, and then one friend (Joey) and his lady friend come up to Tony and complain that another friend (Double J) has already been in there 25 minutes, and he can't get him out. Tony, annoyed that these dudes can't do anything without him (he is the leader of this pack), goes out to the car followed by the couple. They bang on the wind and the following conversation ensues
Tony: Alright. Get out. You've been in there 20 minutes. Get out!
Then we see into the car (they're looking right in there at him), and we see Double J's naked butt, his pants around his thighs doing the girl missionary across the length of the back seat. We can't really see her underneath him. He kinda turns his head back to they guys looking through the window and says

Double J: 25 in the car, 20 in the chick
Tony: Yeah, well get out before we pull you out.
We hear her let out a bit of a moan
Double J: She ain't come yet!
Tony: (straight faced) Since when do you care?
We then see Double J move so that he's sitting on the middle of the back seat facing forward, and she is in front of him kinda on his lap facing away with her hands on the backs of the front seats. Since we don't see them again until after she comes, it's possible that she could have rubbed her clit, but nothing indicates that.
We are outside the car now and can't see quite what is going on.
Double J: Whoa...Okay. It's happening.
Lady in car: "Harder! Harder!
Double J: It's happening. It's happening!!
It clearly happens
Double J: I'll be out in a minute man 
Lady in car: Harder! I'm coming! I'm coming! (screams in orgasm) 
Double J: Oh Yeah!
The Review
Classic Laugh Line
First off, I think the lines where that dude says the gal hasn't come yet, and Tony says he never cared before, are pretty poignant about the state of our culture. It's like, kinda a joke but also not. That joke always is...still to this day. That whole dudes-don't-care-if -the-women-they-fuck-come thing can be used as a classic laugh line because even though at that time and today it's clearly a thoughtless, shitty way to approach sex with a woman, it can be a laugh line because it's also 'real-talk, hard-truth humor,' and that's kinda sad.

In 1977 when this movie was made, the idea that women should come during sex was maybe even more of a cultural topic than today because it was only a few years after the big important milestones in the women's sexual revolution. Masters & Johnston released their research showing that women can and do orgasm from appropriate clitoral stimulation and that couples should make sure the woman orgasms. Shere Hite published her surveys of women talking about their orgasm, masturbation, and sexual experiences. Hite told the world that it's BS women don't come during sexual encounters when they are absolutely capable of doing so given the right stimulation. The women's movement in general was heavy in the air in the mid-late 70's making, I assume, men feel wierd and nervous and defensive. The idea that women should be orgasming during sex was all part of that ( I wasn't even born at this time, but the writings from this time made it clear that this was a seemingly new and nerve-hitting topic of the day).

All that to say I think maybe, and I could absolutely be wrong here, that was one of the lines specifically added in this movie to demonstrate what types of guys these were. They were macho and old-school in their feelings - particularly about women. I say this because the movie absolutely has a strong theme involving men's inability to see women - as anything other than a pussy to stick a dick in, that is. So, if you ask me, I'd say that this laugh line pointing out disinterest in a woman's orgasm indicates these characters are the kinds of dudes that like to specifically give the fringe feminist ethos of the time a big 'fuck you.'

That line was written over 40 year ago, and I'm talking so much about it because I find it particularly relevant given that laugh lines about this kind of thing are still quite popular - in more machismo elements of our culture, but also in more mainstream media, memes, etc. Even if it's meant as a joke it's still true in our culture that it is a joke because it's kinda true. And when it's used as a laugh line, most would argue it is 'just a joke' - making fun of those people - you know, the other people who unlike 'most guys' don't have utmost understanding and respect for their lady-partner's desires and orgasm. Please. Like I said before, it's a laugh line because of the truth behind it, and I know that there is truth behind it because of all male-orgasm-only sexual encounters happening out there that include way more than just 'those other dudes.' It's kinda dudes in general with women in general being complicit. So point here is that I think we should remember we haven't come that far on the topic of female orgasm from where we were when this movie came out.

As for the woman's orgasm in the car. I don't know how this was intended to be perceived, but since there was no indication she was diddling her clit during the time she was off screen. This, I would argue, is a depiction of a woman getting a penis moved in and out of her vaginal canal and vocally expressing an orgasm even though the physical things happening to her were not realistically things that would get a woman off - like anatomically speaking.

I always consider the possibility in these common, yet unrealistic depictions of female orgasm  that the intention was actually to depict a woman faking an orgasm. Occasionally I can argue that, but mostly, it doesn't seem to be the case, and in this scene, I would venture to guess she was really intended to be orgasming. I mean we were told that he had been screwing her for 20 minutes, and the incorrect/misleading notion that women need their vaginal canals banged for 20-30 minutes before they can come was around then as much as it is today, so it makes sense to me that the director wanted her to come and assumed that within the sex act they depicted, her orgasm was realistic. He was wrong to assume that banging a woman would cause her to come . It's actually unrealistic as hell because WOMEN NEED OUTER CLITORAL STIMULATION TO COME, but whatever. This is so common of a way lady-gasms are depicted that I'm not even mad.

If you ask me, though, the fact that she did make orgasm sounds there makes a lot of real-life sense to me. It seems realistic to what would actually happen in that situation. Granted this is completely fiction, and I'm now musing about what was really happening in this fictional scene, but I want to just play through this. So, what I mean here is that a classic way women fake an orgasm (or maybe a lot of times it's not quite faking, but just showing excitement in the way we think we should and is sexy for the man) is to vocally 'come' while he is actually coming. It's been a sensible option in a lot of ways for a lot of women. It's hot to him so it helps him get over the hump and come, but it also lets him know he can come if he feels he has to bang and hold off his orgasm until she comes. Bada boom bada bing. It ends all the banging that is actually not making her come and probably getting boring, Plus he's satisfied he's a real man and satisfied her. Everyone's happy...well, except the woman who in the moment or even years later will realize she's been having orgasmless, shit sex that has slowly chipped away at her once bountiful sex drive...I mean other than that.

The Vulva Rating
Saturday Night Fever had a classic scene of a woman coming during intercourse even though there was absolutely no clitoral stimulation involved. It's unrealistic and adds to the mountain of other scenes like this that continue to convince every new generation of women that they should be able to orgasm this way, even though anatomy and research into female orgasm says otherwise. It pushes incorrect ideas about how sex and orgasms should be, and does a lot of harm to women and men alike.

So that's bad, but I also think this movie is good and I think for its time it was a thoughtful look into how men so easily and commonly disregard women. So I give it a little point for that. I give this movie a 1 1/2 out of 5 star rating.


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