Sunday, August 21, 2011

Medusa Documentary Picks: Gender and the Body

The following is a list of documentaries that may be of interest to our readers that are currently available online. The descriptions were not written by Medusa staffers and the publication does not necessarily endorse the views portrayed in these films. If you happen to watch one of these documentaries, or any others that you feel may be of interest, feel free to submit a review to us at, or tweet your opinions @medusamagazine.

Fronted by Lisa Rogers, this documentary focuses on the rise in vaginal cosmetic surgery, specifically labiaplasty. For the uninitiated, labiaplasty involves cutting off the inner labia so that they don’t ‘hang’ below the outer labia. Ouch! The labiaplasty business has skyrocketed over the past few years, and Lisa’s mission was to find out why so many women hate the appearance of their vulvas to the point that they’d willingly have pieces of them surgically removed.

The celebrity trend for size zero has been criticised worldwide for encouraging women to starve in secret. This film explores the impact the trend is having on real people living real lives. From Kellie who is striving dangerously to achieve the skinny look, to Victoria who feels that her natural size zero frame is a poisoned chalice, this film exposes the contradictions surrounding women’s perceptions of size.

Fearne Cotton examines the ongoing trend for super-slim women and
immerses herself in the worrying world of pro-ana websites who
encourage anorexia and starvation as a life choice. As Fearne explores the diet and exercise regime of a pro-ana, shell
try some of the extreme regimes that they endorse and meet other girls
whove embraced the same lifestyle. She will explore the seductive
nature of these support groups, examine the world of competitive
dieting, and look at relationships that ordinary women have with each
other when it comes to diet and body image.

(Also see: The latest installment in the series, Killing Us Softly 4)

Jean Kilbourne continues her groundbreaking analysis of advertising’s depiction of women in this installment of the Killing Us Softly series. In fascinating detail, Kilbourne decodes an array of print and television advertisements to reveal a pattern of disturbing and destructive gender stereotypes. Her analysis challenges us to consider the relationship between advertising and broader issues of culture, identity, sexism, and gender violence.

Sections: Does the beauty ideal still tyrannize women? | Does advertising still objectify women’s bodies? | Are the twin themes of liberation and weight control still linked? | Is sexuality still presented as women’s main concern? | Are young girls still sexualized? | Are grown women infantilized? | Are images of male violence against women still used to sell products?

Bruce was a normal boy, not an intersex child, and yet the decision was made to turn this boy who had lost his penis, into a girl. Under the guidance of Dr Money and his team at Johns Hopkins University this baby boy was surgically changed into a girl. After surgeons at Hopkins had castrated baby Bruce, he became baby Brenda. The family were instructed how to bring up Brenda as a normal little girl. According to Dr Money’s theory she would grow up believing herself to be female and would go on to live a normal happy life as a woman. It seemed the ultimate test that nurture could override nature.

Thirty years after Bruce became Brenda, the impact of this extraordinary story continues. After almost 14 years living as a female, Brenda Reimer reverted to her true biological sex – the case of the boy who was turned into a girl had failed. Brenda took the name David and for the last twenty years he has lived anonymously in his hometown of Winnipeg. For almost all this time no one knew the outcome of John Money’s celebrated case. But now that David has gone public, the case is being widely discussed once again and its impact on John Money’s theory of gender development and the treatment of intersex children is being hotly debated.

No comments:

Post a Comment