Female Misbehavior (review)

You’d think, at first glance, that the decade and a half between these 1992 films — four shorts and one feature — and today would have blunted their impact, that there’d have been some cracking of the secrets of women’s sexuality that would make these portraits of bold and aggressive women less shocking and less riveting. But the power of documentarian Monika Treut’s perspective comes from her understanding of how the larger culture, no matter how sexualized it is, doesn’t really want to hear women’s secrets. And so Treut, pioneer of independent lesbian filmmaking, focuses on a porn star, an S&M devotee, the “Mexican Marilyn Monroe,” feminist philosopher Camille Paglia, and — most intriguiningly — a female-to-male transsexual, and talks to them in casual, friendly, blunt language about their experience of their own sexuality and their interactions as sexual beings with the larger world. It’s all deliciously shocking and wonderfully radical… even if it’s shocking and radical not because these women are particulary unusual but because it’s so rare to see women publicly claiming their places as sexual beings in their own right and for their own enjoyment. The films have not been restored or digitally enhanced, but so what? Extras include an interview with Treut. [buy at Amazon]

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