Flower - The SSL Review

I remember seeing trailers for Flower and wondering if I would like it. It felt like it could go either way for me. Was it a touch too much of the recently classic snarky-teen-girl-too-smart-for-her-own-good movie go-to character? Would I like Tim Heidecker of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! in it? There were a lot of questions, people. I kinda forgot about it for a minute until I saw it on Netflix, though. So, I watched it in order to answer all my questions. The main character, although certainly in the snarky-teen-girl-too-smart-for-her-own-good genre, was a really well done version of that, and although it took a scene or two to get past seeing Tim as the Tim in Tim and Eric, I did get past it, and I actually thought he was a pretty good fit for that role. The movie as a whole, I think, was a really solid one, and it also had a nuanced progressive approach to female sexuality that I thought was truly a breath of fresh air.

And...it had a little tiny line in it that made it eligible for an SSL review, so I get to write about it here in this blog. An SSL Review, for those that need a little refresher is a review specifically of any discussion or depiction of female orgasm, female masturbation, or the clit. I critique the realism of the depiction/discussion and also write about what the depiction/discussion says about and/or adds to our cultural understanding of female sexuality and orgasm. I try my best to just stick specifically to those SSL Reviewable moments, so it usually stays pretty focused on those moments in the movie only, but sometimes I like to digress.

So here we go. I have tons of these reviews btw. You can find all the other movie SSL Reviews HERE and the TV SSL Reviews HERE.

The joys of a gay brother
I'm going to just describe the SSL Reviewable moment real quick. So, Erica is a 17 year old, and she's getting a new stepbrother, Luke, who is around her age. She's telling her friends about him, specifically that he didn't want a blow-job from her, and they are kinda discussing that he might be gay. One of them points out a solid positive,
"Dude, if you have a gay brother, you can both jerk off to the same porn."
Indeed you can...granted, of course, that as a straight gal you're into a little gay porn, which I think you really should be, but that's just my opinion.

So, that was a lot. I think I need to go back and explain a bit.

Why try and give your stepbrother a BJ? Great question. For money. Luke was in a rehabilitation center for a while, and he's coming home to live with Erica, her mom, and the very new stepdad. They pick him up and all 4 go out to eat. Erica's mom has asked her to be nice to him, and when he freaks out at the dinner table and runs out of the restaurant, her mom asks her to go talk to him, and eventually bribes her with $20 if she can get him to come back in.

Let's go back a bit further. Erica is accumulating and saving money for a very specific thing, and she's making some pretty sweet bank by basically blowing for money and then blackmailing older men (she's 17 - remember) that totally know how old she is. She blows them, and then her 2 friends tape it and appear once he's come and paid so that they can get even more money out of it, which they all 3 split. She's good at blowjobs and has a pride in her jobs well done.

So, that's why she asks her brother if he wants sucked off. She's good at it. She assumes it would make him feel better, and there's money at stake to get him feeling better. Simple as that.

The SSL Review
As for my take on the SSL Reviewable line up there, I think it's excellent. What's not to love about teen girls openly and apologetically speaking amongst each other about their masturbation habits? The more masturbation among girls is normalized, the more girls will feel like it's okay to do it, and the more women and girls we will have that enter into their first partnered sexual encounters understanding what exactly makes their bodies orgasm. That is a win for orgasm equality, because we have too many a gal that doesn't know how to orgasm when they start having sex and end up real fucking confused and orgasmless when their bodies find intercourse doesn't actually cause orgasm like the world would have us believe.

And I also want to talk about how the movie treats her sexuality
So, that line gets a good SSL Review from me, but I also want to just talk about the tone of this movie in regard to female sexuality because I think it's important. The movie did not give Erica's sex-for-money endeavors a heavy weight the way I have seen in so many movies. The character herself spoke about it casually and really quite fondly. She doesn't mind doing it - like it doesn't disgust her or anything at all. She's good at them, and she feels good about that. She also clearly likes that it is a skill she can turn into money. Her friends are also casual about it and supportive of her. She did get one rando mean girl at school that called her a slut, but it didn't bother her until the girl poked at her about something else. Overall, her BJ-centric activities don't feel like a burden to her - quite the opposite.

The movie doesn't treat it heavily either. Sometimes movies will take something like this where the girl seems unworried and confident, but the movie shows us the truth. We eventually always learn the dark side to her being so young and so casually involved with sex. This movie never takes us there, and why should it? She's mastered a practice that takes finesse, and patience, intuition, and practice. We all like mastering something. She isn't giving her hard earned skills away freely. She gets paid handsomely. She is fucking over dudes that she sees as shit bags. She's going into these sexual encounters with her eyes wide open and with a clear, realistic idea of what she expects from them. She's living the dream really. The only thing that would be better, I imagine, is if she were somehow getting paid to get eaten out.

So, to me this movie is very different than most in that it allows sex things to just be sex things for a young women. It doesn't unnecessarily burden its female character with guilt, shame, or damage from sexual encounters that were completely consensual and thought through. It felt refreshing to see that because although there is certainly a lot of damage done to women and girls through sexual means, there is also plenty of sexual encounters women and girls engage in, sexual encounters that lack some or all of the elements of love and monogamy so often deemed necessary for healthy sexual female engagement, that are fulfilling, fun, and/or useful for a multitude of reasons and really not damaging at all. We don't often get to see that side of sexuality for women, and I think that ability to intentionally engage sexually in alternative but healthy ways is something that we should see modeled more often. A wider breadth of female sexual experiences than just romantic/loving sex and damaging/painful sex deserves to be told. I think this movie expanded the conversation.

The Vulva Rating
So, I give this movie a 5 vulva rating. The SSL Reviewable comment was small but mighty. I'm a sucker for anything that normalizes teen girls masturbating. That in itself would just get this movie a solid 4 rating, but I'm also a sucker for progressive, fresh takes on female sexuality. So, I'm going to give this a full 5 out of 5 vulva rating.


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