Let’s Stop Squabbling; Female Nudity as Sexist and Empowering in Film.

Well, where the fuck do I begin?

With a disclaimer- if I say anything remotely sexist in this article it is because I am sexist. So please don’t take offence if I offend you, or the female sex, or the male sex, or whales or dolphins, or monkeys that wear fez hats whilst riding little comedy bicycles in circuses. I am neither racist, or homophobic, or misogynistic, or a feminist. I hate everyone the same…

Good then that I find myself in this very sticky arena, akin to the Colosseum at the height of its popularity in the Roman Empire, known as the gender wars debate. But is this a gender war? I sit in my dungeon staring at the screen of my laptop, tapping my finger on the desk, moving forward with timidity and caution, like I’m awaiting an ambush I cannot escape from.

My first minor epiphany is to find it far easier to identify with the statement female nudity as sexist. I mean, fundamentally, apart from a slight recent shift in the repugnant culture of Hollywood, the movie is still largely anchored around the male protagonist.

Nearly all the superhero movies are male dominated; Bonds, Bournes, the plethora of Disney franchises (their jewel in the crown still being a male – Mr Jack Sparrow). Let’s try be a little ‘cultured’ here, Harry, and take this year’s Oscar winning hopefuls, Lion (about Dev Patel reuniting with his long-lost parents), Manchester by The Sea (about Casey Affleck being depressed), Fences (about Denzel Washington crying out that minorities get a raw deal). I would mention La La Land only I don’t really know anything about it other than it’s a musical winning all the film awards.

Ok this article is about nudity and there hasn’t been a mention of a nipple, or a vagina, or a bollock hanging out the side of someone’s boxers yet!

Hate to tell you reader, but this article ‘ain’t gunna get you off’. My point, in drawing attention to the disparity of lead roles between females and males, is because it directly relates to the debate about when female nudity is sexist and when it’s empowering. Can nudity, or anything be empowering to the on-screen female if she is always stuck on the side lines only to be brought onto the pitch to state the obvious, be given some token gesture, or be ravished sexually because all men really want to see in a film is a hot bird with her jugs out so that they can see a hot bird with their jugs out without being accused of watching porn?

In answer to this train of thought, let’s take women off the side lines and put them onto the centre of the playing field to empower them and help turn nudity into the deity of sisterhood and women’s liberation! But I gotta admit, having written that line and read it back, I pause in thought. Empowering nudity? Sounds like an oxymoron to me. I fear where this train is going is doomed…

I can think of a multitude of films where the production is centred round a female. Most recently in the Wonder Woman and Tomb Raider franchises. Going back further, Disclosure and Basic Instinct. They’re four fair enough examples; female-centric films, two being action orientated, two emotional. Now, where do they leave us in terms of female empowerment? Tomb Raider and Wonder Woman are strong characters, literally. They kick everyone’s ass around them. Yet still the empowerment is compromised by…nudity. Wonder Woman empowers in a skirt and f**k-me-boots whilst Tomb Raider wears insanely tight hot pants. In comparison, you’ll find male action heroes kick ass in combats and t-shirts, leather jackets and tuxedos, military garb and bullet proof vests i.e. something sensible.

Action hero empowerment failed, so let’s go with emotion to empower the woman. In Disclosure and Basic Instinct, Demi Moore and Sharon Stone use the female virtues of persuasion and sex to deceive and gazump Michael Douglas.

Moore and Stone completely mesmerize in their respective roles, turning every male on screen (and off) into purified putty sitting in the palm of their perfectly manicured hands.

These films come far closer to empowering nudity than Tomb Raider and Wonder Woman ever will, but, yet again, that power to control comes out of something unvirtuous – In these cases, deception and blackmail. And so the empowerment is once again compromised.

Is this a gender war? It seems more a gender annihilation. Having writtten that, am I now the meridian of hatred of the entire female readership of VH? Don’t take it personal. It’s just the way one warped man sees it. I also see that if positioned correctly within the account of circumstance, the female protagonist has the ability to obliterate her male counterpart on screen, par exemplar the exceptional Y Tu Mama Tambien.

Gael Garcia and Diego Luna are rich kids abandoned by their girlfriends for the summer, who meet the beautiful Luisa (Maribel Verdu) at a wedding and, after falling in love with her, convince her to go on a road trip with them.

Tambien is exceptional at placing the female in a position of dominance over her male counterparts. This is achieved through Luisa’s superior experience, authority, adulthood and sheer cool confidence compared to the hapless teenage boys. By the end of the movie the boys do get their wish to sleep with Luisa, and in a threesome! Which, incredibly, is tipped completely in Luisa’s favour through the boy’s naivety and unexpected experimentation with homosexuality, and because of it being Luisa’s last experience of intimacy before she dies of cancer.

Harking back to the fond memories of Y Tu Mama Tambien, suddenly equilibrium is restored, and it makes me start to think maybe we’re not talking about a gender war here after all. Maybe there is no gender war. Or maybe we’re fighting the wrong enemy. Maybe the enemy we should be fighting and the war we should be waging is not against the sexes, but against the senseless idiot producers and execs of today who hold the power to decide what is and isn’t put out merely because their daddy’s put them there.

Us plebs really must stop wasting time squabbling against each other and instead look at the bigger picture…