Ice Saints - The SSL Review

Well, if you were hoping for another indie movie SSL review, then you're in luck because I got 10 tickets to the Indianapolis International Film Fest during their Kickstarter campaign, and the movies I'm seeing keep having something in them about female orgasm. If a movie discusses or depicts female orgasm or masturbation, you know I gots to get at SSL reviewing it, right? So here we are. (And just to be clear - an SSL Review is purely about the ladygasm stuff - not the movie as a whole.)

This time the movie is Ice Saints. Ryan Balas, the director and his then girlfriend (now wife) Deirdre Herlihy. created a documentary-ish movie about the year of their engagement, their wedding, and their honeymoon.Outside of the wedding footage, which was obviously taped by someone else, most of the couple's conversations seemed to be taped by the the couple - ya know, kinda setting it up on a table or something and then having a normal everyday conversation. So, it has a stagy element, but I think the conversations are meant to be indicative of actual spontaneous personal conversations the couple might have.

Ice Saints - Dir. Ryan Balas

There is one SSL reviewable part and then another part that doesn't quite fit SSL Review criteria, but I found it to be important to the discussion. I'll describe the two scenes first, then I'll get to commenting.

So Deirdre is naked, sitting on the floor against a bed or something, and the camera seems to be set on a dresser maybe and is pointed at her. Ryan walks in from behind her (he's in boxers, but no worries, he gets naked later, so it's square), hands her a drink and sits next to her, and the following conversation happens (these were transcribed in the dark, so the words might not be exact quotes, but it's pretty close).
Ryan: I'm sorry you didn't orgasm.
Deirdre: It's okay.
Ryan: You always sound so disappointed,...
Deirdre: I just don't like it when it's so squeaky....
Then they (mostly he) goes on to say things about who cares whether the neighbors hear them and that they should get a better bed, (I believe they have a futon) so that it doesn't squeak like that, etc.

Okay, so that's one. Here's the not quite SSL Review eligible, but related part.

They are at the kitchen table. She's wrapped in a towel, working on her computer. He's naked sitting next to her - and he starts the following conversation.

Ryan: I think you should go off birth control. (pause) I really do. You know what Rachel said. She didn't have any sexual urges, and then she went off birth control, and it all came back.
Deirdre: I don't know...maybe (or something like that)

Alright, now I don't usually have the luxury of hearing director's intentions with their depiction/discussions, but there happen to be a Q&A session with Ryan and Deirdre afterward, so I asked them why they chose to include those two parts given they were the only spoken parts about their sex life. (They asked for awkward questions, okay). Anyway, they both seemed really cool and the basic answer was that they thought things like mediocre sex or a woman not getting an orgasm was something that was real, and not depicted too often. That wasn't exactly how they said it, but I felt the gist was that they wanted to put stuff in their movie about relationships that were not puffed up or over exaggerated, that felt real to them, and that to some extent seemed to them to be under appreciated in other media.

That is kinda what I imagined was going on in their brains, and I really appreciate their openness about it. I actually could not agree more. Sex can be all kinds of things within a relationship. It's not always super hot and great. It can be just fine or even bad. That's normal as shit. We're gonna zero in on the not-orgasming thing though. That too is normal as shit, like way normal...like way more normal than we as a society ever admit, and I love that they included it.

Their situation can be placed right along side the general population. Women in general are simply not orgasming during partnered sex as much as men in general are. This is not often discussed, but it feels like a given. It's viewed as an inevitable reality...cause...women are more finicky and orgasms are harder for us ladies, right?

Well if you read my blog at all, you know the answer is actually no, and that the problem lies not in the make-up of females, but in the deeply rooted way we  teach, depict, and engage in sexual activity. It's not inevitable biology. It's cultural, and all us ladies are in the same boat. That's why it's so refreshing to see something that normalizes the experience of no-orgasm sex and doesn't depict some bullshit fake porn-gasm sex. I mean, come on. we have plenty of that already.

That brings me to the getting off birth control to gain more sex-drive part. I think this indicates an interesting and incredibly common, almost ubiquitous phenomenon. Women in long-term relationships, quite good and quite sexual ones even, begin to lose libido quicker than men. It's the old joke about marriage meaning the the end of sex thing, but it's a joke because there's truth to it.

Women in general have way, way more problems with loss of libido, and we as a society so often go to hormonal or emotional problems as the culprit. Maybe though, just maybe, it's that we ladies are having more sexual experiences that end without an orgasm. Whereas most men think forward towards a sexual experience with a woman and can draw on their past experiences to know that the event will be all the many things sex might be....but also almost surely end in an orgasm, that's just not as sure a thing for ladies. Every non-orgasmic experience we have informs us about what to expect from future ones, and frankly, sex without orgasm might not be something any woman or man would get too excited about. So, in this way, sex quickly becomes a different experience for men and women. If men went into sex with a good or even a fair chance they wouldn't orgasm, then they might find sleep a better option too. I mean, there are other reason to get nasty with your partner, but let's not ignore the allure and addictive nature of a good ol orgasm.

So, to me this movie reflected something very real about the experience of a long-term, hetero, sexual relationship, something that most people in that position can relate to. What really kinda excited me though was that it also included two aspects of the female experience that are rarely considered as two pieces of one puzzle. I have no reason to believe the director put them together as a way to connect the lack of orgasm among females with the ridiculously large amount of women dealing with low sex drive. He was just putting common sexual realities in there, and maybe that's the thing. Most people aren't brave enough to talk about these things, but if we were, we'd discover something important. We'd discover that we're all dealing with the same issues and it's not because of our hormones, our emotional turmoil, or our personal problem. We'd find that there is a lady-gasm revolution hiding in plain site. And don't worry gentlemen - this isn't a war. We'd be fighting side by side on this one ;)

I always think that the first step toward orgasm equality is to for people to start relaying sexual experience honestly, and this is certainly a step Ice Saints intentionally took. I'm gonna have to give it a full 5 out of 5 vulva rating.



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