‘Subjectified’ is a documentary by Melissa Tapper Goldman. According to the statement on their website, this documentary was born out of Goldman’s frustration. Personally, I can agree that most art comes out of a similar place.
Goldman said, “I thought I understood the motivations and pressures regarding young women’s sexuality within the community where I grew up, but I had no clue what sexuality meant for other women around the country. I thought I understood what might make a teenage mother decide to raise a baby, or for a religious person to practice abstinence, but the models in my mind for why girls have sex just didn’t add up to a believable picture. Why do girls have sex? Or why don’t they have sex? Pressure? Libido? Emotional dependence? I realized that I drew many assumptions from examples in media rather than from real life, since few of us ever hear such intimate details from anyone but our closest friends. And even my own experiences come filtered through expectations shaped by stories drawn from external sources including television, movies and magazines.”
To explore this topic, Goldman interviewed nine women from different cultures, upbringings, all ranging from age 19-28. All of these women were asked why they have sex today, what their first experience with sexuality was like, their current sexuality, about sex education in school and what they learned, and finally, about fertility and contraception. A few of the women gave examples of their favorite sexual experience and how they felt and about times where they felt pressured or forced. All of the stories were very similar. All of the women, except the two virgins interviewed, had a time where they had to “talk themselves into” having sex, or felt pressured to have sex. The pressure had varying reasons like “He’ll get it somewhere else”, “He wanted it”, “I did it to shut him up”, etc.
I decided to review this documentary based on a preview I saw. I thought, ‘This documentary would get to the bottom of why women feel this way, why we feel obligated to have sex, why we find our worth in it’. And really, while it scratched the surface of these questions, I didn’t feel that I got any new information from it. I’m a woman, I’ve felt these things—sure, it was comforting to know that everyone has felt this way, too, but we still don’t understand it. I wasn’t given any information about how to combat it, or even about its origins. I guess I felt a little…confused, to be honest.
The documentary is, however, quite interesting. It’s thought-provoking, but still I feel it’s slightly anorexic or worse, maybe even a little watered down. The film, at one hour and forty-nine minutes, I think could benefit from one or two less interviews and maybe a half an hour of background.
In the film, Goldman sits, asking the questions behind the camera, and we never see her or hear her own responses. I would’ve been very interest in her response to this interview. While I enjoyed watching ‘Subjectified’ and felt a little disillusioned with women and their views on sex, I just wanted more. Out of nine women, the nineteen-year-old was the only one I felt had a positive outlook on herself and sex. That’s another angle I would’ve liked Goldman to explore—how this nineteen-year-old is able to say she will not be forced or treated poorly while having sex, but a 28 year old has issues with it….