I don’t usually post about films on Facebook but after watching ‘My Days Of Mercy’ last night – a lesbian film which opened the BFI FLARE lgbtq+ festival – I feel compelled too.
All I can say is, FINALLY. A good, interesting, female directed, written, produced lesbian feature film. The L in LGBTQ+ has always been left in the shadows for me, growing up (and still now) I’ve searched and searched for portrayals of women on the big screen; women that are somewhat like me, lesbian relationships that reflect my real relationships in real life. But there really is barely anything. Or, rather, barely anything that is in the mainstream & is also simultaneously a TRUE reflection of what it is for me (and so many others that I know) to be a gay woman, or even to be a woman for that matter.
Rather, I cling to scraps that films leave behind, holding onto moments where female characthers may have slightly implied their homosexuality, being forced to identify mainly with heterosexual portrayals of relationships as quite often, the heterosexual portrayals would be a lot more realistic for me than the fetishised lesbian ones. I’d watch films like ‘Brokeback Mountain’ over and over again, for although the characters were male at least finally homosexuality in general was breaking through into the mainstream… but still, it wasn’t female homosexuality…
Yes, there are more recent films such as ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’, and yes, it is a stylish, beautiful coming of age film about a teenage girl exploring her lesbianism. In so many ways this film is identifiable and accurate… until: THE SEX SCENE. Again, a highly fetished TEN MINUTE long sex scene, that as a gay woman is totally unrelateable and mimics what a horny teenage boy would perhaps think of when he hears the word ‘Lesbian’… oh wait, ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’ IS directed by a horny (not so teenage) straight white man… interesting. And this leads me on to the exact problem regarding both heterosexual & homosexual portrayals of women in big mainstream film – there just isn’t enough funding or perhaps also ‘interest’ in female directors. THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM.
Of course there are series such as The L Word, Lip Service, OITNB, that as queer women we cling too as they give the self-identification and queer worlds that we need. But regarding mainstream, ‘big budget’ film, there is just not many ‘decent’ portrayals.
‘The Lesbian’ in film and in society is far too often either fetishised or just totally ignored all together. Lets be honest, if heterosexual women are still fighting for better roles, more screen time and equal pay then of course homosexual women are going to be left in the shadows. Rather than being a strictly homophobic issue (although it is still homophobic), what it really all boils down too is sexism. Although 2018 is year of the woman, and as women in the west we have come a long way, we still have a hell of a long way to go… the fight is for our sisters around the world, straight and queer, who suffer horrendous treatment just because they were born with a different set of genitals.
Films like ‘My Days Of Mercy’ need to be celebrated and they also need more exposure as they are vital in the fight for women’s rights by showing women (gay and straight) as human beings who are not merely there to serve as objects, or perhaps ‘props’ if you like to the leading male in whichever latest big budget action film it may be.
We have a female Doctor Who which is incredible, ‘Wonder Woman’ was also a massive positive for equal rights. Now we need a female James Bond type character who saves the world (without a man) and BONUS, fucks women not men. Thats what I mean – why does every boring mainstream plot have to contain heterosexual couplings? James Bond would still have the exact same plot, gadgets, explosives, cars, villians, M, (and perhaps even the same toxic masculinity and sexist attitude. lol.) IF James Bond were a woman. I’m so so sick of seeing straight white men and endless heterosexual binaries (macho men and highly sexualised feminine women) flood the screens – aren’t you? Lets mix it up more its 2018 and I’m so so so so so tired of this bullshit.
Anyway couldn’t find a trailer for ‘My Days Of Mercy’ but click here for a little clip if you’re interested after my essay