As I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the transient nature of well...everything, I’ve been noting the fleeing nature of emotions, particularly, of human pleasure and pain, and our pursuit of pleasure and denial of pain. This has brought me to one of my favorite topics in film, the way sex is portrayed and explored.
Rather unfortunately I feel, most men view and experience sex differently from most women. Of course, there are obvious exceptions to this rule, but there are probably some very real evolutionary reasons why there is this difference; reasons that complicate relationships, but simplify survival of a species that actually seems to be doing a pretty good job of eradicating itself despite this.
Recently, some UT – Austin professors did a study on why women have sex. Not so surprisingly (and I think most women would agree), women have multiple reasons for "screwing" that seem to surpass the more simplistic reason of “lust” and “desire” that men identify with.
Sadly, these multiple reasons really aren’t explored in film for the most part. But this doesn’t surprise me because most films are directed by men. So, by large, the act of sex is usually something meant to titillate, arouse, support fantasies of potency and masculinity. As a result, most sex scenes seem to miss the many underlying reasons people “do the nasty,” and simplify an act that can be creatively more complicated. I think we’re missing the woman’s perspective of this whole thing.
If most of the directors, producers, and those controlling the flow of money for films were women, the sex scenes would have a different tone. Because women tend to have a more emotional identification with sex, I think film sex would explore more of the emotional aspects and less of the pornographic side. I don’t mean to say that sex scenes created by women filmmakers would be out of a fluffy romance novel, but perhaps would explore other darker reasons women “do it,” like, seeking revenge on a boyfriend/husband, seeing what it’s like before marriage, manipulation of the sexual partner, and yes...even to give someone a disease. (I’m not lying on this one!)
In some ways, perhaps a woman’s experience and perspective of film sex might be that “missing link” that I often note when filmmakers question what is the REAL difference between blatantly exposed sex scenes in film and those shown in porn. Porn lacks the emotional complexity that I think a female’s perspective might bring to the same sexual moment. (Porn also compartmentalizes the body.) Not to say that male directors cannot bring this complexity, because many of them already have, but by and large, it is often sometimes very hard to tell the difference between soft-core porn sex scene and a Hollywood sex scene other than what body parts they show, and the difference in production value. They ultimately still contain the same dry false emotional quality.