Cloud: Another Twilight movie premiered this past weekend. Silver lining: They tell me it’s the last one. A few years ago, I had my first and only experience with the franchise. Let’s just say I was not swept away by the romance.  Originally posted December 17, 2009.

 

photo by rhoftonphoto

Way late to the party, but The Man of Mans and I finally watched Twilight. I’m not au courrant with movies the way I was in day P.B. (Pre-Bean), but I don’t live in a cave.  I knew that Twilight was a not-just-teen-movie sensation, featuring a dreamy vampire and epic romance.  Its appeal seemed to span both gender and generations and several people had recommended the movie/books as addictive, escapist fun. I am a big fan of big-screen fluff.  I’m happy to shut down my inner critic in favour of easy to digest entertainment.  Such was my mindset when we popped Twilight into the DVD player.  For those of you who are fans, I want you to know that I tried. I tried to qualify the content as “teen-fluff”.  I tried not be a prickly, curmudgeonly crank. I tried to let the heated passion of impossible vampire romance melt my icy heart.

I failed.

I did not love Twilight. I did not like TwilightTwilight totally pissed me off.  For a few reasons.  (Warning: It’s ’bout to get spoilery up in here, y’all!)

1.Edward is a douche.

I hear a lynch-mob of adolescent girls coming for me.  I will not bend.  The first time Edward meets Bella, he’s blatantly hostile towards her.  The second time they meet, he doesn’t apologize for being a jerk. Instead he explains that he was worked up with vampiric desire and that it’s Bella’s fault for making him want her so badly.

He repeatedly initiates contact with her, then admonishes her for being near a dangerous, untrustworthy vampire.  Later, in an masterful display of douchebaggery, Edward intervenes when Bella is set upon by a gang of predatory men.  He whisks her away to his car where, rather than asking how Bella’s doing in light of having almost been raped, he demands that she tend to his feelings and calm him down.

And of course there’s the lovely revalation that he sneaks into her room at night to watch her sleep.   So romantic.  So stalkerish.  So douchey.

2. Bella puts the “ass” in “passive”. 

Truth: Bella’s not really an ass.  I’m just tryina have  fun with subtitles.  Bella is a really beautiful young woman with pretty hair and nothing significant to contribute to this romance.  She’s  just there as a support/vessel for Edward’s desires. She reassures Edward that she trusts him, even as he assures her of his unrelenting desire to drain her blood.  She lets Edward dictate the pace and terms of their relationship.   She knows he’s a vampire but doesn’t admit it until he commands her to.  The movie didn’t give me any sense of who Bella was beyond a girl who chewing her bottom lip, while waiting for Edward to save her from peril

3. Oh, Nadine. Chillax.  This isn’t Citizen Kane, it’s just fun fantasy for teenagers.

Note to self: Rent Citizen Kane.

As far as this being teen fantasy fare, that’s precisely why the themes in the movie bother me.   I’m constantly hearing/reading about youth, girls in particular, swooning over Edward and wanting precisely the type of “romance” portrayed in Twilight. Bella/Edward is not a healthy relationship.  I saw a movie that conflates love with disregarding a partners’ violent nature, domineering behavior,  invading someone’s personal space, imposing your will on your partner and obsessive fixation on one another.   I saw nothing in this movie that implied there was any true spiritual connection between Edward and Bella.   Just a bunch of surface sparkle (literally).  And while I accept that some relationships are surfacey…this is a story penned by an adult author, produced by adults, marketed to younger people as the pinnacle of true love.  Not a good thing in my crabby, old lady opinion.

4. A Final Note

There was no dance off. I can overlook a multitude of cinematic blunders if the plot culminates in a dance off.  This did not. Bad Twilight! No biscuit!

I welcome thoughts from those of you who have seen the movie and/or read the books.  I’m especially curious about how the book compares to the movie.   Is it a faithful adaption?  Does reading the inner thoughts of the characters make change the dynamic of the romance?  Are there any dance offs in the sequels? I will also accept cheer offs and/or skate offs.

A merkin is a pubic wig. Developed in the mid-fifteenth century merkins were worn by women who had shaved their nethers, often as a way of curing pubic lice. Merkins were also worn by prostitutes to disguise signs of disease such as a syphilis chancre.

Today, film producers sometimes put actors in merkins to give audiences that “full front nude effect” while ensuring that the performers genitals are technically covered, a tactic that may result in a more permissive MPAA rating.

Lana Wachowski – who, along with her brother Andy brought us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas – speaks about her experience as a trans woman.

This is a longish video, but I strongly encourage you to make time for this. Wachowski is witty, wise and all kinds of inspirational. I love this speech. I hope you do too.

 

Many thanks to reader John for alerting me to this video!

Our superpower is being pretty! Photo by Cali4beach.

 HEADS UP!  If you haven’t seen Friends With Benefits, this post is way spoilery, yo!

After a typically hectic weekend, The Man of Mans and I decided to cap off our Sunday with some down time on the couch and an easy-on-the-mind type movie. We opted for the JustinTimberlake/Mila Kunis vehicle, Friends With Benefits. We’d been told it that it was funny and significantly better than its Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher counterpart No Strings Attached.

I remember having seen the trailer months ago when the movie had been in theatres.  Despite the title, I had strong suspicions that Friends With Benefits would in fact turn out to be People In A Typically Romantic Relationship. Hollywood is remarkably conventional when it comes to romance.  But I decided to put my skepticism aside and give Friends With Benefits a shot. I like Mila Kunis. She has a beautiful raspy voice. And maybe – just maybe – Friends With Benefits would surprise me with a new twist on the old girl-meets-guy story.

It didn’t.

Everything I needed to know about this movie, I learned from the previews. Young, beautiful people meet and flash their teeth at one another. They build a relationship through a series of kooky misadventures and playful montages. They quarrel, temporarily part ways and ultimately realize that what began as casual sex has blossomed into lurve, because that’s what we expect of lovely-looking young people with shiny hair and impossibly large New York apartments. Which isn’t to say that Friends With Benefits a bad movie. It’s got snappy dialogue and decent performances by charismatic actors.  It’s just a movie that thinks it doing things differently, when in fact, it’s the same story we’ve been told many times before about how love, commitment and happiness are inextricably linked.

Speaking for myself, I’m into long-term romance and committed monogamy. So far it’s worked out well for me. But in recent years, it’s come to my attention that, as a society we tend to validate that relationship model and ignore/nullify others. The proliferation of romantic comedies like Friends With Benefits support the assumption we’re all happier if:

  • We’re coupled rather than single
  • We have one partner instead of multiple partners
  • Sex is committed rather than casual
  • We fall in love with our sexual partner
  • We have long-term, rather than short-term relationships

There is one character in the movie who has an authentically casual sex. And wouldn’t you know she’s portrayed as a flighty airhead with questionable parenting skills. And even she becomes a cheerleader for romance, telling Mila Kunis’ character that “We all have a Prince Charming. You just gotta know him when you see him”.

Sigh.

The movie I wish I’d seen was one where two friends decided to have to sex and actually remained friends who had sex. I would have liked seeing how a couple of pals negotiate their boundaries and the wacky awkwardness that might ensue. As it stands the discussion in Friends With Benefits boiled down to, “This is strictly physical. We’re not bringing emotion into this, ” which I don’t even understand.  I mean, I might be naive but if someone is a friend, doesn’t that mean that you already have feelings for them? Things like affection, care and even love.  Even if they aren’t surrounded by floaty hearts, they still exist, don’t they?  How might  sex affect those emotions?

I don’t know. That’s why I’d like to see a movie about it.

I’d like to see a movie about what happens if one friend or both gets jealous for reasons that other than “this person is the one and I just don’t realize it.”

I’d like to see a movie where casual sex isn’t summarily dismissed because “What are you? In college?” or because “women say ‘no strings attached’ but they all want the same thing.” FYI, I also grow weary of movie dialogue about monolithic gender behaviour. Those observations are rarely astute or unny.

I want a mainstream movie about how people can enjoy a hot, healthy sexual relationship without riding off into the sunset. Not because I have anything against happy endings. But finding one’s alleged soul-mate isn’t the only path to said happiness. People derive great joy from lives that don’t involve pairing off with “The One”. I know it because I’ve seen it in real life. I think it would be awesome to see it on the silver screen as well.

Side note: Like most rom-coms, the main conflict in Friends With Benefits is resolved when Justin Timberlake orchestrates a grand gesture to illustrate his love for Mila Kunis. In this case we’re talking a flash mob in the middle of Grand Central Station. It’s utterly ridonkulous…but I still kind of dug it.

Don’t let Ottawa’s buttoned-up exterior fool you. This here government town has got lots of HAWT happening, you just have to know where to find it.  Here’s a list of some of the cool sexy events coming up in the nation’s capital:

Friday, August 3rd

Centretown Movies and Planned Parenthood Ottawa presents The Birdcage

What better way to start off your long weekend than with an outdoor screening of this campy, comic classic? All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood Ottawa (who just happen to be my employers). Huzzah for sexual health resources and paychecks!

Time: 9 pm

Place: Dundonald Park

Cost: Pay-What-You-Can

 

Ottawa Slowdance Night: Summer Love Edition

Get your up-close-and-personal grove on as the DJ spins (almost) all slow songs. Don’t have a date? No worries. There are designated dancers just waiting to fill up the slots on your dance cards. (For real, there are actual dance cards!)

Time: 9 p.m.

Place: Raw Sugar Café

Cost: $10 at the door

 

Monday, August 13th

The Naughty Bits Book Club

Ottawa’s favourite sex shop wants you to do some hot summer reading. Grab a copy of this month’s selection – A Queer And Present Danger, then jam on down to Venus Envy to discuss your favourite naughty bits.

Time: 6:30

Place: Venus Envy Ottawa

Cost: FREE

 

Wednesday, August 15th

Senior’s Night Out!

Get ready to mix and mingle! This twice monthly is a chance for LGBTA folk over 50 to get together and have some fun!

Time: 7:30

Place: Burgers On Main

Cost: No cover. Cash bar.

 

August 16th

Strip Cheese

Ottawa’s sauciest burlesque vixens take it off to some the cheesiest rock anthems, power ballads and love songs of our time!

Time: Doors at 8 p.m. Show at 9.

Place: Maxwell’s Bistro

COST: $10 at the door.

 

If you’ve got the lowdown on some sex-positive, queer-inclusive happenings coming up, feel free to drop me a line at nadine@adorkableundies.com or go right ahead and list them in the comments!

 

 

It’s time to dust of the grey. This week I feel sexy in…

Dress & Sunglasses: Joe Fresh. Earrings: Forever 21. Bracelet: AMH Style (thrifted). Shoes: Naturalizer.

…in BLACK!

Um…I’m not sure why I felt the need to go all caps on the word “black”. Perhaps because I feared black as a sartorial choice for much of my life. In the folly of my youth, I got the fool notion that black was a boring colour best suited to mournful occasions. I also had a vague but persistent fear of getting lost at cocktail parties. How on earth do you stand out when you’re one little black dress in a sea of many?

The answer is all in the accessories!

Accessorizing is another relatively new development in my style evolution. I know see how a simple black dress like the one pictured above, allow other elements of the outfit to take center stage.

 

 

Dress & Scarf: Old Navy. Earrings: Forever 21. Shoes: Payless Shoes.

This was the first non-funereal black dress I ever bought.  Two summers ago, I went on a bit of a wardrobe spree with my pals Stylin’ Jes and Natalie Joy.  I was determined, as ever, to shop the rainbow. Meanwhile, Natalie Joy unearthed this simple, dark frock. She tried it on and the woman looked FANTASTIC! I decided immediately to copy her. Of course the dress looked completely different on me. But it still worked and I dig jazzing it up with fun scarfs and such!

Dress & Scarf: (thrifted). Bracelet: Ahora Jewlery. Shoes: Seychelles.

The fact that I now own not one, not two, but three black dresses is probably a sign that I’m past my fear of the dark side. I picked up this number at a recent clothing swap. I did experience a twinge of reluctance at first, but Jes easily convinced me of this frock’s versatility and potential.

BTW, The Man of Mans was busy the afternoon I wore this outfit, so The Green Bean filled in as camera person. I think he did pretty well, don’t you?

 

If any of you Ottawans looking for an excuse to get dolled up in your favourite LBD, might I suggest checking out the majesty that is Lord of The Rings In Concert at the National Arts Centre!  The NAC orchestra performs the score to Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring, while the movie is projected onto a massive 60-foot screen.  The peeps at the NAC very generously invited me to their premiere performance and peeps – this gal was blown away!

I can be stingy with the ovations, but I had to stand for this one! Brava, NAC orchestra!

There are only two more performances, tonight and Saturday. Tickets are a bit on the pricey side, ranging from $26-$120 but if you have the means, this LoTR In Concert is well worth the price of admission!

A friend once told me the story of a dude he knew who bought a new, very large pick up truck. He drove it to a family function and when Dude pulled up to the driveway fairly busting with pride at the splendor of his mighty vehicle, his brother immediately remarked.

“Nice truck. Sorry about your penis.”

I lauged when I heard this story. I’ve retold it at parties and I laughed some more because Ha ha! WITTY and also, BA-ZINGA! I have a vulva and drive a Prius, so it’s funny because it isn’t me.

But a recent letter from an anonymous reader got me thinking about the larger implications of a seemingly harmless joke.

On behalf of men everywhere, someone needs to say this.

Size does not matter.

My current lover, has, quite frankly, a below average sized dick. He told me before we even got naked. It has been a source of low self esteem in the bedroom department for him.

Low self-esteem? That’s not funny. It is however, understandable, given the derision and scornful humour that small penises and the people they’re attached to endure. After reading this letter, I was ready to GO with some prime cuts of righteous indignation about how slagging the less endowed WRONG and MEAN and people need to cut it the fuck out. Which is all true. Mean people suck. But so do hypocrites. So no rant today, but rather an apology to penis-having people of all genders:

I’m sorry.

Making fun of people’s bodies is not okay. It’s especially not okay to make fun of people’s gentials. Our society tends to treat the our sexual bits as secretive and somewhat shameful. The last thing anyone needs is the additional sting of someone laughing at their nether business.

It also isn’t cool to perpetuate the notion that masculinity not only depends on having a penis, but said masculinity depends on having a penis of a certain size and anything less is an insurmountable deficiency.

I’m guilty of both transgressions. I’m sorry.

This part of the letter forced me to consider why I’d found the pick-up truck story funny in the first place:

When we have sex…..zOMfG. I have NEVER had a constant orgasm with a lover before. It was unearthly. I have never gotten any pleasure from being on top, but he has me in a constant state of pleasure the moment we copulate.

Here’s the shitty thing about my joke and the fact that I laughed at it and told it to other people. It reinforces the flawed notion that tere are certain types of bodies that are just better for sex, than other; that certain people, by virtue of their of physique, have a greater right to sexual pleasure.

Fresh out of the oven wrongcakes!

Society abounds with  rigid ideas about “sexiness” and the human package it comes in. Small cocks, perhaps more than any other body part are (pardon the pun) double-penalized on both looks and functionality. But the truth is that sexy is in the eye of the beholder and our ability to give and receive sexual pleasure has no relation to the size of what’s happening between our legs. Our wise anonymous letter-writer says it best:

i’m not saying all small dicks are magical and all big dicks are overrated. I’m saying that the man makes the dick work. The person attached to the dick is the one who controls the thrust, the action, the pace, the pheromones, the passion.

I recently saw a movie where a character maligned his friend’s Prius by saying, “I literally feel like I’m driving around in a vagina.” It wasn’t funny. Because that kind of is me. So why am I dishing it out if I can’t take it?

Anonymous is right and I was wrong. The size of a truck has nothing to do with the size of a cock and the size of a cock has nothing to do with a person’s skillz of sex and awesomeness. I apologize for pertuating stereotypes and poor humour. I resolve to be kinder (and funnier) from here on in.

"I'm a virgin. I always have been." - The 40 Year Old Virgin

Virgins. Admirable under 18. Pitiable over 25. The all important touch of elegance that will make your next ritual sacrifice a cut above.

And now virgins the latest subject to featured on TLC,  the channel that brings you all gawking, all the time (save for brief interludes of ‘What Not To Wear’ – HOLLA!) with a new show ‘The Virgin Diaries’.

The precap on TLC’s website describes the hour-long special as follows:

“The Virgin Diaries takes you inside the lives of adult virgins who reveal the challenges, truths, and anticipations of losing their virginity.”

I very much like the idea of ‘The Virgin Diaries’ in concept. While virginity and abstinence are touted as the moral high ground for youth, past a certain age virginity is often frowned upon.  A virgin who is well into their adult years is an uncomfortable notion for some people.  There’s a general assumption that, save for members of the clergy, people of a certain age have had sex with a partner.  And if they haven’t…they must be super-religious, undesirable, emotionally/psychologically arrested or just plain weird.

While it’s true that 40-year-old virgins may be a rarer breed, it does not automatically follow that there is something weird, wrong or dysfunctional with never having had sex.  Which is why, I say again, that in concept, I like the idea of a show that seeks to normalize adult abstinence by exploring  choices and circumstances around older virginity.

Unfortunately, the following trailer leads me to believe that in practice, the virgins are being put on carnival display.

http://static.discoverymedia.com/videos/components/tlc/c8ef891d23ca01af8f0eae102abb825902679c83/snag-it-player.html?auto=no

Oh, TLC. Fail!  You would promote your special by showing an awkward first-ever newlywed kiss.  And now the Internet at large is mocking this poor couple.  Not cool!

Admittedly, it’s not the prettiest looking kiss, but it’s not a ‘OMG grown up virgins are SUCH FREAKS THEY CAN’T EVEN KISS NORMAL!’ thing.  I couldn’t kiss normal the first time I tried it either.  Given that this couple had their inaugural lip lock in front of friends, family and a camera crew, I frankly think they did pretty well.

At any rate, fingers crossed that TLC’s ‘Virgin Diaries’ will be less a train wreck and more a considered look at adults who have never had sex.

Do Numbers Matter?

A few weeks ago, Sterling brought my attention to this article: Sex Partners Number Faulty Gauge For Women, Experts Say.

The jumping off point for the article is the movie What’s Your Number?, currently in theatres.  I haven’t seen the movie yet, but Slate.com reviewer Dana Stevens sums up the plot thusly,

According to the article [protagonist] Ally reads, once a woman has had in excess of 20 sexual partners, her chances of getting married drop precipitously. Making a quick headcount, Ally realizes with horror that she’s already at 19, and that the next guy she sleeps with had better be “the one.”

I can’t critique a film I’ve never seen, though its sad Tomatometer rating of 7% amongst the top critics on Rotten Tomatoes, implies that the execution of this movie is as aggravating as it’s premise.

Growing up, pop culture and social mores sent a loud clear message. No one likes a slut – at least not for more than half an hour at a Friday night party. Even sluts didn’t like sluts. Girls who “slept around” didn’t respect themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t give it away so easily. From this I inferred that as a girl, I carried most of my self-worth in my vagina and to a lesser extent, my boobs.  As I self-identified “good girl” I resolved not to “give it away” to some random boy, no matter how cute or crush-worthy.  Meanwhile the guys worth seemed to be inversely affected by chastity. Any male not having or at least actively pursuing teh sex at all times, was marked by his peers as un-masculine.

Problematic.

A self-respecting man must get a much sex as he can. An ethical women should withold sex and have as few partners as possible.  Problematic because:

a) Double standard much?

b) It’s a dicotomy that pretty much necessitates a manipulative approach to heterosexual sex. That, in turn, begins to blur what should be a very clear distinction between sexaul negotiation and sexual coersion/assault.

So, boo to slut-shaming, sexual commodification and equating a woman’s worthiness to her chastity!

Hooray for low tomato ratings!

Yesterday I was facilitated discussion group with some local high schools students. The topic was healthy relationships.  They were a fantastic group and I was impressed with the degree of passion and critical thinking they demonstrated.  In many ways, their approach to sex and relationships is much more sophisticated that what I remember experiencing at their age.

We also talked about the language we use around sex and relationships. The word “slut” came up.

“What does that word mean to you?” I asked.

“It’s a girl who just has sex with lots of people and doesn’t care or respect herself,” one student told me.

“Would any of you ever call a man a ‘slut'”, I asked.

“No,” was the unanimous answer.

“Why not?”

After a thoughtful pause, one of guys gave what I thought was a very astute answer.

“I think girls have to be more afraid of sex, especially at our age, because they can get pregnant and stuff.  A guy can just walk away, but if you’re a girl you have to deal with it.  So we tell them sex makes them slutty so they don’t want to do it as much.”

A sound hypothesis if ever I heard one. Pre-contraception, there was a very clear motivation for discouraging women from having sex.  Single motherhood for a young women who often had minimal education and limited income potential? Not awesome.  Shame, shame, double-shame was one of many techniques designed to encourage girls to keep their pantaloons on, even if their loins were burning just as hot as the men’s.

Today the shame, shame double-shame persists.  Although birth control and safer sex methods do exist, as a society we’re still conditioned to shame women around their sexuality.  The problem is, it doesn’t work.

In the short term, shaming young women around sex, doesn’t stop them from having sex. It stops them from being honest about it – particularly with parents, health care practioners and other adults who could help them access the contraception/safer sex products they need to protect their health.  In the long term it can make negotating sexual relationships challenging and weird for all involved.  It also leads to bad filmaking.

For my money promiscuity vs. chasity has nothing to do with a woman’s character. When it comes to sexuality and self-respect, the “numbers” are irrelevant.

As I’ve mentioned before, this girl watches porn. Over the years, I’ve seen my fair share of dirty movies and my most favourite ever is the seminal 70s classic Debbie Does Dallas.

The plot is simple.  A group of high school cheerleaders decide they will all travel to Texas to support their captain Debbie in a bid to join a professional sqaud. The young women form a company wherein they provide sexual and non-sexual service for members of the community.

If I were to do a  critique of Debbie through my sex-educator/feminist lens, I’d tell you this movie is far from perfect.  But at my core is a cheeseball soul that apparently rules my libido. Debbie Does Dallas  raunchy-kitch charms and arouses me every time.  This film established some of my best loved porn-tropes. Wah pedal guitar riffs. Locker room scenes.  And delightfully contrived dialogue along the lines of:

FOOTBALL PLAYER ONE: The girls think they can boost her morale if they go with her.

FOOTBALL PLAYER TWO: Hey, man. It is not her morale I’m interested in boosting.

Debbie Does Dallas is from an era that pre-dates plastic surgery and brazilian waxes. While the actors in the film are still primarily young (between 18 and 40), their bodies all look different from one another.  The women are sexually co-operative, rather than competitive, they eagerly engage in consensual sex work  and very much enjoy the sex they’re having.  All these sex-positive elements make me exceedingly happy and what thrills me even more?  There’s not a hint of self-conscious social commentary in any of these choices.  It’s just a frothy, filthy product of it’s time.

As I said, there are things to criticize about the film.  I can easily overlook the following weaknesses, but you may not like:

  • Few safer sex practices (This film predates the AIDS epidemic, so no one uses latex).
  • An all-white cast.
  • Three facials (including one where the actor gets semen in her eye.)
  • A breif subplot involving a creepy record store clerk.
  • Heteronormative
  • A lot of fellatio, less cunninglus/clitoral stimulation.
  • Some infidelity
  • Scenes where consent is implied, rather than given explicitly.

It’s by no means a flawless beacon of adult filmmaking. But it’s silly,  it’s sexy it makes me smile, it never fails to turn me on and for that Debbie Does Dallas is one of my favourite things.