Intro to Intersex

While researching our movie, I came across an issue that I had never thought too much about, but I think it is important and relevant to the subjects present in our movie. Intersex (learn more here) is a description of a person who does not fit neatly into either the category of male or of female.

Although exact data on this doesn't exist, 1 to 3% is a good estimate for how many people fit into the intersex category (although generally .1 to .2% is the number of children born where the medical community would consider that the child needs specialist medical intervention), and that is a significant number of people. The uninformed public often think of this issue in terms of  the poor strange hermaphrodites that have an ovary, a testical, and both male and female genitals.  The possibility that your child would be born that way seems to terrify people. This was most recently and prominently expressed in the movie BABY MAMA in which Tina Fey's character read about the possibility and spread her terror to both her sister and Amy Poehler's character. Just for your knowledge, the range of intersex possibilities is broad, and for instance, the "hermaphrodite" type of intersex condition is one of the rarer types.

The truth is that when you become informed, intersex conditions are not really scary.  However, it is understandable that parents find the prospect of having an intersex kid daunting. Parents often wonder how a child who is not strictly male or female could cope in our society? Until only very recently, any kind of intersex condition was "corrected" without question as soon as possible by medical professionals. For many intersex individuals, this means that at birth a decision was made by medical professionals as to which sex they should be. The surgical and/or hormonal changes are then administered to the patients, often as infants and often continuing throughout their lives. The child rarely has a say in this. Some live happily with the decisions that were made on their behalf, but some do not. Some simply wish they had gotten a say in the matter.

There's some good arguments out there that these kinds of sexual ambiguities are not that problematic - and that no medical interventions should be administered until the person can make a decision for him or herself. Take for instance the common intersex situation in which the clitoris is "abnormally" large or the penis is deemed "abnormally" small. I mean, if we come from a place that knows these smaller penises and larger clitorises are completely functional for receiving pleasure (because we do know this); and we come from a place where we know that sex can exist as a variety of different types of interactions - interactions that can be loving, hot and orgasmic as long as both parties have functioning sexual organs - no matter what those organs happen to look like. If we come from this mindset, then maybe there is no need to risk loss of penis or clitoral sensitivity just to look more like society thinks penises and clitorises should look.

We as a society believe and act as if there are two possibilities; male and female, and that anything else is simply an abnormality that should be corrected, just as we would correct a cleft palate or an improperly formed heart. I am not writing this to advocate abolishing all medical intervention for intersex individuals. I am only writing this to point out that intersex conditions are somewhat common, not as bad as they are made out to be, and the issues surrounding intersex conditions and the "correction" of them are probably a lot more complicated than most people realize.You probably know an intersex individual, and you may someday become the aunt, uncle, parent or grandparent of an intersex individual, so why not be a little informed. There is a growing community of parents, intersex individuals, and medical professionals (check them out here) that would like us to rethink how intersex individuals are viewed and treated. I would suggest to anyone that they check out the subject a little more deeply.

I came across this issue in a fabulous book called Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality by Anne Fausto Sterling. Intersex is only one aspect of this book that tells us effectively that viewing humans in one of 2 categories, male or female, is both socially impracticable and also scientifically inaccurate. If you're kind of a science nerd, you might just love this book.


Slow and Steady

This isn't the first movie we've made. It is the longest and most complicated, but certainly not the first, and I am well versed in the timing of movie production. However, I've been working on this movie pretty much my whole adult life, and at times the progress seems to move excruciatingly slow. We were literally doing rewrites on this for years. I think that if I hadn't gone through the hills and valleys many a time before, I may have lost hope a long time ago.
I was just thinking about this because we just finished what I consider to be some pretty big milestones. The SSL website is now up (good work Charlie). We're locked into a date for the cast party / trailer premiere, and our AnC New Years cards are finally created and mailed (that's right New Years cards in February - that's true AnC style). Take for instance the SSL website, I've been fretting about it for years - what it will contain, how it will look, how it should work, when we need to get it up, and now it's here. That seems to be how everything with a movie works. I always think it feels something like this...The initial thought (whatever it may be - writing, casting, editing, marketing...) makes you feel excited and hopeful. Then you go through a series of points where you feel alternately hopeless and then confident. It also alternately sucks and then is awesomely fun. Plus it often seems like it will never ever end, but then you are suddenly looking back on it, and it actually has ended.
I still go through all these feelings, but I think I can say now that I have a constant underlying confidence that if the time is put in, it will be done. I know it can be done, because we've always gotten it done. Right now we're looking back on the research part, the writing part, the production part, the website part. We're smack dab in the middle of the post production part, and we're just stepping into the meat of marketing hell. One day I'll be looking back at those too.


Kate & Allie, Swingtown, and Our Precious Time

We don't have cable anymore. Instead, we watch Hulu and Netflix through a computer hooked up to our TV. I think we watch more TV than ever now; we slowly devour the season after season of tv series that we can watch streaming instantly on Netflix. Our first was Swingtown. Only one sweet season (2008) was made to grace our TV. I'm not lying when I say that I would think of it during my workday and kind of mourn it; wishing that there were more to watch. Charlie and Barney would tell you the same thing. So much drama! So much poolside 70's fun at the pilot's house! So many unused opportunities for swinging! We did a lot of yelling at the TV. How does this relate to Science Sex and the Ladies? Well, in other circumstances surrounding a sexually themed tv series, I would critique the way that female sexual response was portrayed in the series. This was an ABC show, though, and there was actually a lot of nothing when it came to portraying the response part. All you saw, on the rare occasion, were some quaaludes passed around, some kissing in a pool and then it was the next morning. This was no HBO series here (Sex and the City, True Blood, and Six Feet Under, I love your soap opera charm, but I am more than willing to call out your unrealistic female orgasms. Hung, I'm not so fond of you and I have already called you out on this blog), so I'm not going to critique. I guess I just wanted to say how much I miss that ol' Swingtown.

Our latest obsession is Kate&Allie (1984-1989). We're on season 4. How does this relate to our movie? Well, we have things to do for this movie, and we can't stop watching this show. So, we had to restrict watching to weekends so we could use our weeknights more constructively. It seems like I should acknowledge that this is sad or pathetic in some way, but I really don't think it is. I love TV, and Kate&Allie is a super bad ass TV show. It's got that classic 80's sitcom style, but with a touch of edge, a dash of feminist perspective, and a pinch of sophistication (except for Jennie's 1st and 2nd season hair or when they were trying to cover up Susan St. James' pregnant belly for a whole season - carrying a mattress up the stairs? laying in a hospital bed for 3 episodes? giant bunny costume for Halloween? hilariously 80's sitcomish endearing but probably not sophisticated). Point is, we're working so hard on the movie and the movie peripherals that we've given up our greatest joy during the week. That's puttin' the ol' nose to the grindstone.