Week 7; February 24th – March 2nd Blog Entry #2 (Done by J).

pocket

 

 

 

 

In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex?

Through the Lens of LGBTs

Opinions surrounding the meaning of the term “sex” have been closely restrained by society. Sex has been commonly limited to the conventional definition where only male and female divisions exist. In an attempt to break away from this flawed definition, In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? successfully opens up the boundaries on the meaning and importance of sex to the LGBT community. Through a series of shorts, each under 4 minutes, filmmakers use smart phones to document their unheard voices surrounding sexuality. While this film addresses the bigger picture of sex as a dynamic term, it also speaks on a personal level, allowing individuals to form genuine views. Its simplicity and modern twist are effective at capturing the true essence of sex.

In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? does not follow a specific plot throughout, rather each short consists of a unique view on the theme of sex. While a few shorts have distinct perspectives on sex, most fall under one of three categories: one-sidedness, freedom, and the idea that one is not tied down to their sexuality. Further, all the shorts address the struggle between the stereotypical understanding of sex, versus the newly growing, but sometimes controversial perspective. The first repeated sub-theme is one-sidedness, specifically regarding how society views members of the LGBT community. As the names suggest, Tunnel Vision, Labels, Pigeon Hole and Obsessions each uniquely express how society refuses to see past homosexual typecasts, but instead maintain a narrow, fixed judgement on LGBTs. These films emphasize society’s lack of motivation and desire to stop labelling. Personally, I believe these shorts bring rise to the idea of choice as addressed by Professor Tolmie in lecture. With careful consideration of morals and ethics, one is able to select a stance on how they feel towards other heterosexual or homosexual individuals. The film emphasizes the damaging impact of society’s unfortunate choice to view LGBT members in a stereotypical way – through a homophobic lens. As described by George Weinberg in Gendered Worlds, homophobia is hatred expressed towards lesbians and gay men (Aulette and Wittner 117). Thus, these shorts remind us of the irrational nature of homophobia and the need for it to stop.

A second sub-theme is depicted through six other shorts including Dufferin Mall, Fucking Butterflies, Take it Off, Serpientes y Escaleras, Creature Probably, and A Thousand Birds. Each film incorporates a slightly more hopeful theme: the idea of freedom amongst LGBT members. Creature Probably, Fucking Butterflies, and Serpientes y Escaleras approach freedom from a positive perspective. I interpret the lyrical dancing, the butterflies “fucking” shamelessly, and the men acting carefree with their genitals as indications of their own freedom form societal conventions. However, Dufferin Mall, Take it Off, and A Thousand Birds emphasize the lack of freedom LGBT members experience. Dufferin Mall and Take it Off address the limiting relationship between race and sex. These films show the struggle LGBT members face with whiteness and the overpowering need to conform (Tolmie). A Thousand Birds focuses on the hope for breaking free form the many unjust societal expectations and assumptions about homosexuals. I also think this grouping of shorts addresses individuals’ sexual rights and individual autonomy. The Declaration On Sexual Rights, as mentioned in Gendered Worlds, states that individuals have the right to make free and responsible choices on all aspects of sexuality. Everyone is entitled to a sense of sexual freedom, equality, and dignity (Aulette and Wittner 107). According to my interpretation of the film, I think the shorts display examples of infringements on LGBT members’ rights. Ideally, every individual should be granted equal privileges and freedom, yet the films show LGBT members who still remain trapped and mistreated by society. 

The idea that ‘your sexuality does not define you’ is the third reoccurring topic within the In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? shorts. While this is the ideal, society unfortunately perceives marginalized individuals based on the discrimination they experience (Gender, Race, & Popular Culture 73). My Sex is Genderless, Lavender Technicalities, and You Are Not Your Genitals each address this issue by stressing that individuals should not feel restricted by their gender. These clips are more empowering than the former as they emphasize the satisfaction, happiness, and triumph one will feel once they themselves, along society, accept and understand who they are. I see this grouping of shorts as representative of how society should be; no one should be disadvantaged or embarrassed because of their sexuality or sexual preference.

Aside from the content and themes in In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex?, the technical aspects also contribute to the overall film. As previously mentioned, filmmakers were limited to smart phones to create their short. With the rise of technology, smart phones have become the leading device for self-representation; social media cites, online dating, and ‘selfies’ all focus on the individual. However, this film attempts to use smart phones in the opposite way, rather use them to create stories that represent everyone anonymously in the LGBT community. Further, both the simplistic yet eccentric editing and music contribute to the entertaining aspect of the film. Finally, the short clips kept me enticed because of the stories continually changing to new perspectives on the same overall theme of sex. In my opinion, the technical aspects of the films were executed well. 

Overall, In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? effectively combines a variety of shorts that draw upon different understandings of sex. Using only smart phones presents a current style that is easy to understand and particularly relatable to the 21st century. Together, the shorts address the different ways members of the LGBT community view sex as opposed to society’s preconceived ideas. A combination of the emotional content, subliminal messages, and captivating film style contribute to the success of the film. Further, my experience attending the Reelout queer film festival was enlightening. This was my first time viewing personal films about sexuality and it made me further appreciate the challenges LGBTs face. During my time at Queen’s thus far I haven’t directly encountered controversy over issues between homosexual and heterosexual individuals. Regardless, this film reminds me that even though it may not be visible, many individuals are constantly pressured to conform to society’s definition of sex, whether it be applicable to all individuals or not. It is my hope that with more films like this, people become aware of the many misconceptions about LGBT members. In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? Shows that the ability to share the message about how homosexuals understand sex lies in the palms of our hands, making it an undoubtedly accomplishable task. 

 

Works Cited

Auletter, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012. Print.

Tolmie, Jane. “Twilight & 50 Shades of Grey.” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 4 February 2014. Lecture.  

Gender, Race, & Popular Culture. Toronto: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2014. Print.

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4 Comments

  1. Week 7; February 24-March 2nd Blog – Comment/Response (Done by S).

    I was really interested to read about the films that you viewed at the Reelout film festival. Like you, this was a first experience for me as well, having spent time viewing alternative films I found myself reflecting on why we are at university and what its purpose is. I believe the institution of university is a place where we gather to learn, to be exposed to new ideas, thoughts, opinions and knowledge; not a place where we come to get a job. Enrolling in gender studies has opened my mind and made me so much more aware of common-place everyday issues within society. Issues that impact everyone in society like intersectionality, positionality, and power and authority, consequences of racialization, discrimination, and marginalization, and the spectrum of gender diversity and identity.

    The shorts that you saw addressing the conventional binary division of male/female bring the experiences of members of the LGBT community into focus. Using smart phones was a brilliant decision on the part of the directors connecting the viewer with the film in a positive way. These series of shorts that you described so well draw our attention to boundaries surrounding sexuality within society and the question of free choice. I agree that every individual should have the right to make informed choices regarding sex and their sexuality but real-world events and experiences would indicate that such is not the case for many who fall outside the conventional norms dictated by those who hold power over the development and maintenance of those same norms. This is where damage is done, where people are marginalized, stereotypes are built and used against others for the purpose of identifying, classifying and controlling others.

    While university does not ‘get us a job’ taking courses like gender studies educates us to become more aware; more savvy to issues of gender within society and that is what we take into the job place. While we will be working in jobs in many different settings the common factor are people and being able to bridge these gaps in the corporate board office or factory floor will make us better employees.

    – S.

  2. After reading this blog, the third point of the shorts is what stuck with me the most. I think that our society places way too much emphasis on the labels we associate with sexuality. There is so much more to someone than their sexual orientation. In a more progressive society that claims to be accepting, we may overstep a little, and make too much of a deal about someone’s sexual orientation. Obviously we need to maintain activism efforts, but someone shouldn’t be referred to as an LGBT individual in every day conversations. Your sexuality doesn’t define you, no matter how you identify. We cannot continue to place such an emphasis, as it only widens the gap. We are all people, all lovers and fighters, regardless of who we love. The changing societal norms have made coming out safer and more welcoming than ever, but we need to ensure we don’t forget the people behind the sexuality. I hope that this shift can be made as more LGBT films and literature come into mainstream society, breaking down barriers and making it easier to be an LGBT citizen. That being said, I hope that one day, there won’t be a distinction. I hope for a society where all citizens are seen as equal, and sexual orientation becomes as trivial as the colour of ones hair.

    -M.

  3. This blog did a great job of showing the immense amount of labels that society holds on the people in our community. It also shows the lack of desire to stop these close-minded labels as well. Although people would themselves deny it, homophobia surrounds us everyday, and not in the ways many people identify the word with. It isn’t just lack of acceptance of gay men and women, it is the lack of acknowledgment that there are more genders than just man or women, or different possibilities than gay or straight.
    It added a lot to your blog when you mentioned the declaration on sexual rights as well. It is so important that we, as individuals, have “the right to make free and responsible choices on all aspects of sexuality.” The films sound like they were very powerful and contained may strong and important messages of gender and sexual equality that everyone should learn from.
    -R-

  4. Having seen this film as well, it was refreshing to read a different view of what it represents. The in depth descriptions of the three themes in the film were explained well and I completely agree with you on them. The focus on not labeling, freedom, and one-sidedness, as you said were definitely portrayed in the films. Knowing the difference between sex and gender and applying them to everyday situations were defiantly recurring ideas in these films. Your thoughts on Tunnel Vision, Pigeon Hole, and Obsessions expressing the “irrational nature of homophobia and the need for it to stop”, was an interesting viewpoint because two of them were silent and I completely understand your view on them compared to prior to reading this review when their meanings sort of slipped past me. I agree that it is a given that everybody should have equal rights and the fact that this is still something that we are working towards shows the importance of films raising awareness about the lack of equality the way that this one does.
    L

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