25 September 2006

Morning Reading: Sex Edition

Two fantastic articles from yesterday's Times that I'm just reading this morning:

‘Shortbus’ Cast Didn’t Study for This in Acting Class - We're all looking forward to Shortbus, and not just because Kate's gay object of affection (GOA?) is in it, and not just because we feel like our lives are a little empty without the awkwardness of watching porn in legitimate movie theatres with our friends. Though maybe a small part of our anticipation comes from the chance to see John Cameron Mitchell do... something he's never done before. But it's really just because we love JCM. (The article says he "has a choirboy’s face, a librarian’s voice and a twinkle that suggests all the mischief just under the surface." I've never noticed the librarian's voice thing, but sure.) We really love him a lot - "we" being the royal we of indie art porn audiencing - and are looking forward to this muchly. The article covers some of the actors who took part - the film was written through improvisation, with the actors all sharing the story credit with JCM though he gets the final credit for the screenplay. Because who doesn't wonder what these actors are like? None of them came from the porn industry. This is the first I've read about the film beyond the "indie art sex porn" basics. It might be the choir boy twinkle, but I think JCM has a special sensitivity, as a filmmaker and a person, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he's done.

What if It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl? - From the NYTimes Magazine, a really interesting article on intersex kids and fantastic intersex activist Cheryl Chase. The question of what to do when a baby's born with ambiguous genitalia is incredibly loaded. Until Chase got going, common wisdom was to operate right away - do what you can to ascertain the infant's genetic or physiological gender, and go for it. In Chase's case, this meant a clitorectomy. Fun. Chase advocates never operating until the child's old enough to consent to it themselves. More than consent to it, but to actually make the choice. "Intersex babies are not having difficulty with sexual identity or self-image. The parents are, and parental anxiety about the appearance of a child’s genitals should be treated with counseling, not with surgery to the child." It's a point I have trouble arguing with. It's also an issue that's probably very important to know about. Chase's mother agreed to her clitorectomy because "I have never looked at myself, and I never looked closely at my children. The doctor said your clitoris had to go. Mine never meant anything to me, so I didn’t think it was wrong to remove yours." The numbers for intersex births are hard to pin down, but they're something like 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 4,500 - about the same as the incidence of cystic fibrosis. I'm not saying, "Read this so you're prepared if your child is intersex," although I wish all parents who go through this could hear what Chase has to say. But the questions of society, parenting, and human rights resonate well beyond this one situation.


Rocco said...

I was really nervous that the "sex film project" would be treated like an amateur experiment, and not be taken seriously. I really trust that JCM has good intentions with this and even though he's sorta been a one-trick-pony thus far, he's played that trick so well as to inspire great confidence in his artistic merit.

That said, I was also fearing that as a Hedwig fan, I would have to drag friends with me to sit in the dark with a bunch of creepers watching both a bad film and a bad porn at the same time. ugh!

I'm thrilled at the last paragraph of that article:

“At Cannes, we had a 10-minute standing ovation,”

I think that's a good sign.

John said...

plus we went to six flags yesterday

it's relevant, somehow