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“They’ve wiped womanhood out of the text!” - Stacey Dutton, PhD, neuroscientist
These are the words Dr. Stacey Dutton spoke during a pivotal moment in THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE while holding up Gray's Anatomy - the textbook used to teach medical students about human anatomy. Erased in 1948 from Gray’s Anatomy, the mention of the clitoris did not return to the textbook until the late 1990’s. The five other anatomy textbooks displayed across Dutton's desk did not fare much better. Three out of the five - all 2017 editions - lacked the correct and complete depiction of the clitoris, the organ of female pleasure found on the body of every mammal born female. The omission is not a mistake. As Dutton goes on to tell us, “Women are told that the seat of pleasure is the vagina and that’s completely a lie.”
Why is the truth about the anatomy of the clitoris and the fundamental role it plays in the female orgasm not required content in every human anatomy textbook? What are the social consequences of this omission for women, both personally and universally? If girls and women can be denied the right to know the simple truth about their anatomy, than what other rights can they also be denied? It’s not a leap from a lie to oppression. It’s one small step.
"This is a film about a purposeful plan to lie to and shame women about the right to be sexual." - Maria Finitzo, Director of "The Dilemma of Desire"
From the same production company who brought you "Hoop Dreams" and "Minding the Gap," THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE will explore the clash between gender politics and the powerful imperatives of female sexual desire. We will follow two scientists and two artists who are using their work to shatter the myths and outright lies women are taught about their sexual desire and their bodies. Committed to the truth - call it “Cliteracy”- the acknowledgement and understanding that the clitoris is fundamental to the female orgasm. these four compelling women are out to change culture.
Through her art, Sophia Wallace is changing the way we talk about female pleasure. Inspired by Wallace’s art, Dr. Stacey Dutton, a neuroscientist, realized she had never seen a drawing of the clitoris until she discovered Wallace’s work. Dutton is now committed to making the publishing industry correct the lies and outright omissions about the clitoris found in the majority of anatomy textbooks. Dr. Lisa Diamond is dismantling outdated notions about women’s arousal and desire with 20 years of groundbreaking research and Ti Chang, an industrial designer and sex toy designer (rarely are they female!), started CRAVE, a company dedicated to designing and manufacturing elegant vibrators for women.
Working in concert with the portraits of our “truth-tellers” are the stories of five diverse women who on a daily basis confront in their lives all of the social constructs that not only deny women the right to be sexual, but punish them when they are. Through their voices, THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE enters a deeply personal space.
Umnia, a Pakistani Muslim woman did everything her family, culture and religion required. An arranged marriage ended in a painful divorce and now at 38, she is alone, longing for connection in a dating landscape that offers none.
Becca, recovering from a painful breakup, uses poetry and art to heal herself and empower other women going through similar pain.
Sunny balances the expectations of her Chinese parents who want her to enter a PhD Program in Economics (a male dominated field) with her own need to express herself as a stand-up comic satirizing the culture of the dating landscape.
Jasmine, raised in a conservative Baptist family, rejected all she was taught about sex and sexuality, choosing instead to find her authentic self by working in the sex industry as a stripper. She is an outspoken advocate for the rights of sex workers.
Coriama, a queer woman of color, calls herself an erotic artist. She sees pleasure as a form of resistance to racism and misogyny. Through her work on the series Queer the Air, she creates a conversation about pleasure and sexuality within communities of color.
For two years we have had intimate access to all of our participants, filming them at work, at school, hanging out with friends and family and in their dating lives, intimately exploring what it means for them to find their voice and the courage needed to own their sexuality. We have witnessed them struggle on a daily basis as they confront the political, cultural, social, educational and religious forces that punish them and all women for just wanting sex. And as our filming has continued, we have captured how each one of them finds their own path of resistance.
We want to empower women to embrace and own their sexuality and pleasure. Men have never been in the dark about the fact that they have a penis and what it is for. Its anatomy and physiology is understood from both a medical and scientific perspective. Since the 1800s there have been over 42,000 scientific studies done on the penis versus 2,100 studies done on the clitoris. This isn’t an accident.
The feelings of bearing a woman’s body, both physical and emotional, comprise the most intimate sense of selfhood. And yet the world over, women’s bodies remain subject to the will and dogma of predominantly men in power. The terms vary from country to country, but the effect is the same. Oppression. The way women are viewed sexually in the world cannot be separated from the way they are treated. The stakes could not be higher.
We are a team of award-winning filmmakers behind acclaimed documentaries such as MAPPING STEM CELL RESEARCH: TERRA INCOGNITA and MINDING THE GAP. Producer/Director Maria Finitzo is a two time Peabody award-winning filmmaker; Diane Quon is the Academy Award-nominated producer of the 2018 critically acclaimed documentary, MINDING THE GAP; producer Cynthia Kane is a former commissioning editor who helped transform the way global documentaries are seen on U.S. television; editor Liz Kaar, recently co-directed and edited HARD EARNED, a six-part series that won a prestigious Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Journalism Award in 2016; and our executive producers include 2-time Academy Award-winning Barbara Kopple, award-winning director and Kartemquin Founder Gordon Quinn, and award-winning filmmaker Hugh Schulze.
THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE is a co-production with four-time Oscar-nominated Kartemquin Films.
Join the "Cliterati" and help us bring this film to the world! 95% of our footage has been shot and we have a great rough cut of the film. Our goal is to finish our film by late 2019 and enter the film for early 2020 festivals. BUT we need more funds to be able to continue to edit this spring and bring it to the finish line! ALL Kickstarter funds will be used to finish editing the film.
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP TODAY:
· Please donate. No donation is too small.
· Please spread the news and share this Kickstarter link with everyone you know!
· Please follow us on social media @dilemmaofdesire for updates on the film’s progress:
Many of my films, both documentary and fiction, (5 Girls, In the Game, A Taste of Life) have explored the lives of women and girls revealing the barriers they face in the quest for personal autonomy. I am interested in telling stories that have at their core a driving desire for liberation--sexual, economic and psychological from the cultural domination of men. THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE is a natural evolution of my work.
As a mother of a son and daughter, I watched my children grow up navigating the ups and downs of the sexual landscape. Despite all the gains of the 60’s, old rules remained in place. Gender politics were even more pervasive and, most importantly, I was struck by how much more dangerous the world was for both of my children, and in particular for my daughter. I am deeply committed to making this film--for my daughter, for my son, for all of our children.
The 58th Natural Law of CLITERACY created by Sophia Wallace states: Democracy without Cliteracy? Phallusy. At the end of the day, that’s what it all comes down to-freedom and equality. Please join us in fighting for the equality of women.
Check out our great rewards and please donate today!
Lots of love,
The DOD Team
Aymar Jean "AJ" Christian Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and a Fellow at the Peabody Media Center; Author, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television
Eve Ensler American playwright (THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES); Performer, feminist, and activist
Jessica Fields Professor of Sociology at the Center for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State; Author of Risky Lessons: Sex Education and Social Inequality
Carol Gilligan NYU Professor, American feminist, ethicist and psychologist; author of “In a Different Voice” credited with inspiring the passage of the 1994 Gender Equity in Education Act.
Frances Kissling Scholar and activist in the fields of religion, reproduction and women's rights; President of the Center for Health, Ethics and Social Policy and previous President of Catholics for Choice
Shelby Knox Feminist organizer; Outreach Director for AUDRIE AND DAISY; Subject of 2005 film, THE EDUCATION OF SHELBY KNOX
Cynthia Lopez Executive Director, New York Women in Film and Television; Creative Strategic Consultant; Former Commissioner at New York City Mayor's Officer of Media and Entertainment
Nicole Page Partner (Entertainment and Employment Law) at Reavis Page Jump LLC; President of the Board of Women Make Movies
Katha Politt American poet, essayist and critic; Author of four essay collections (Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism) and two books of poetry; columnist for The Nation magazine
Dr. Nabeela Rasheed Senior leader at Abbvie, Inc.; activist and advocate for the PRIDE group, Asian Leadership Network and Legal Council for Health Justice
Deborah L. Tolman, Ed.D. Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Hunter College; Professor of Psychology, The Graduate Center at the City University of New York; Co-Editor-in-Chief (with L. Diamond), APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology; Co-Founder, SPARK
We have many wonderful rewards including: the first to have a digital link, tickets to one of our premieres, a private call with our director, and an opportunity to be credited as a contributing producer! Plus check out these other great rewards (many are limited, so don't miss out!)!
(Your pledge is tax-deductible! When good or services are provided as a benefit for your contribution, the amount that is deductible for federal income tax purposes is limited to the total amount of your contribution less the fair market value of goods and services provided.)
SPECIAL THANKS TO: NOMATTER.NYC
Risks and challenges
The challenge of making a film about female desire is it makes so many people feel UNCOMFORTABLE. For women, we don’t talk about female desire: our needs, our bodies- even though it is our right. For men, this film is challenging the patriarchy. The status quo and that can be a scary thing.
As one astute student of Dr. Dutton stated: “If we as women find out about our sexual needs, doesn't that make us equal to men? I think that's what men fear the most. Because if we become equal then we deserve rights."
This is the prime reason for making this film. We want to spread the word that equality of sexual pleasure is a basic human right and we want out film to begin a conversation that will help women everywhere talk about this right in a way that feels empowering. If we don’t talk about it, if we can't talk about it directly and honestly - change will never happen.
The challenges are many including:
CHALLENGE #1: Resistance to the truth: many find the word "clitoris" and the fundamental role it plays in female sexual pleasure a scary thing to discuss. Why is the very word "clitoris" often identified as pornographic? It's part of the female anatomy, plain and simple. But you won't hear it discussed that way in movie theaters, on TV, streaming platforms, and in classrooms - unless taboo breaking films like ours are given public support.
CHALLENGE #2: Can we promote all of our rewards-especially on social media? Some of our rewards - such as a beautiful vibrator that gives pleasure to women - are considered pornographic by many platforms. And yet, those same platforms have no trouble promoting Viagra, the drug that allows men to experience sexual pleasure. This is the challenge we are running up against even as we try to promote our film and the Kickstarter campaign.
But we know we can do it. We are committed to doing it. The truth always comes out. So many men and women have reached out to us to voice their support for this film. We know that we have a following and that our film is a game-changer for girls and women everywhere, particularly the younger generations. This is the pathway to true equality and we will work together to get this film completed!
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