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Romance, Sex, Love & Marriage: Strategic Topics Seductively Contributing to Diversity Education?

When you hold hands, situate yourself for a kiss with a potential lover that doesn’t happen though both want it, badly; when you actually do kiss, or don’t allow foreplay to become an afterthought; or actually put some thought into the style of love making that is apropos this coming Friday as opposed to last Sunday; do we really consider any and/or all those intimate gestures related to notions of diversity & social justice? How so? To what varying degrees and relative to what dimensions/themes of diversity are any of these actions?


Am I saying that even when a couple decides to chat about their day or opt for a not so silent massage as opposed to silent ones there may be some social justice overtones? Well, in the film “Your Friends and Neighbors,” Ben Stiller while in the throes of passion is comfortable verbalizing his enjoyment to his partner (portrayed by Catherine Keener) when she tells him to just “shut up” and attempt to feel it instead of narrating it. How might this relate to ability, race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic class and/or privilege? I could situate all that moment relative to all the aforementioned diversity dimensions, can you?

I have had enough students who have taken this course that I have no doubt they appreciate how I have packaged the RSLM course as a SUNY Plattsburgh diversity course? Well, on so many levels the class explores the same basic themes that are covered in the Examining Diversity through Film course (ability, race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, and privilege) I developed with Deb Light and co-teach. In RSLM we can’t avoid getting titillated while watching Billy Bob Thornton assisting Halle Berry in escaping the anguish visited upon her from the unconventional loss of her husband/son. Yes, as humans it is hard to avoid your anatomical humanity reminding you that you more than like watching Wei Tang (portraying the complex character Wang Chia Chi aka Mak Tai Tai) use her covert feminine wiles to seduce the Japanese collaborator (Mr. Yee) in Lust – Caution. More so, you can’t deny that you feel it when the two are portraying a level of intimacy that you realize director Ang Lee may have crossed over into pornography. Watching Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, married at the time in real life, escape their reel life guilt from flirting at a party by sharing a joint is intriguing. However, combine that with Stanley Kubrick as the director, the Chris Isaac background song “ “Baby did a Bad Bad Thing,” and some erotically photographed moments of Kidman and Cruise and the movie becomes secondary to your desire for intimate companionship. Nonetheless, the examination of diversity within this film and across all these themes is/can be always present, especially if you learn to look beyond the one dimensional lens most people are accustomed to using.

So, what are your thoughts on how elements of diversity are omnipresent in most films, even those that feature the traditional stories of romantic passion, romantic infidelity, hot-sweaty-insatiable sensuality, loving-enduring marital bliss or some other relational twist you want to frame. What dimensions of diversity are present in the following films and how do they interplay with Romance, Sex, Love, and Marriage? Oh, and please stay away from the obvious (i.e. gender) in your contributions when articulating aspects of romantic trysts or tete-a-tetes, unless you are going to creatively demonstrate your insights into some aspect of the subject matter that most would have missed.

Love Jones; Casablanca; Before Sunrise; A Lot Like Love; Bound; Sin City; Baby Boy; Lust-Caution; She’s Got to Have It; The Matrix; U-Turn; Eyes Wide Shut; Mo Betta Blues; Y Tu Mama Tambien; Feeling Minnesota; Nine Lives; Secretary; Sex and Lucia; He’s Just Not That Into You; (500) Days of Summer; Your Friends & Neighbors; American Gigolo; Disappearing Acts; Vicki Cristina Barcelona; Broke Back Mountain, Sex, Lies, and Videotapes; Swingers; Two Lovers; The Human Stain; Storytelling; The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

For example, in Casablanca, what did or could Bogart have meant when he replied to someone checking his bystander status with the statement, “I stick my neck out for no one…” Was his statement more easily creatively engaged because he owned a saloon? Or Bogart’s statement hinting at some level of implied intimacy when he tells Bergman’s husband, Paul Henreid (portraying Victor Laslo) that “she tried everything to convince me, and I let her…”
If you are creative enough to unpack Kidman’s assertion in “Eyes Wide Shut” that her husband “Tom Cruise” was too sure of himself and her, which then led to her revelation of a fantasy, please do so. How is the statement she made not classist or privileged, but could be construed as ableist or heterosexist? Or, how Bogart’s classic line “ “the problems of 3 people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world,” can be interpreted quite broadly and definitely within a world far too often at war with itself.

Why is it important to incorporate elements of diversity & social justice in a class about RSLM? What would happen if the class was taught from/through a monolithic lens?

Those of you who choose to respond please go where you feel you must, but if you have any insights into how any of the films listed above can advance one’s knowledge of diversity & social justice, speak now, or forever hold your piece, of knowledge that is…

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I believe that the Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage class fits well within the diversity course listing. The film American Gigolo with Richard Gere is a perfect example of showing class and privilege. Gere's character, Julian is a gigolo but it is not disclosed in the scenes that we watched how much it costs for his services. Even though it isn't said out loud, one can assume that from seeing his apartment and clothing and car that he gets paid very well. From what we see, Julian services women from a higher socio-economic class and women from privilege. In these scenes you see that although these women have money, they aren't happy. This movie ties into diversity because of the view and discussion of economic classes and ties into our Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage class because of the obvious inclusion of sex as being Julian's career choice.

All of the movies mentioned above share one thing in common; the unfair, biased portrayal of women. To not discuss the impact of gender roles in these movies would be ignoring and perpetuating a sexist, institutionalized behavior that has been commonly accepted by those who dare not challenge the “norm”. In all of these movies, there is always a man (or in some cases a boy) who comes into the scene only to rescue a woman who may not have been able to get out of her situation if the help was not presented. Emma Goldman stated, “It is necessary that woman learn that lesson, that she realize that her freedom will reach as far as her power to achieve her freedom reaches”. For centuries now, women have been classified into subordinate roles where they are unable to fully express or communicate her full power/capabilities. As we move towards a progressive nation, we still hold on to our traditional ways, easily succumbing to the ignorance that was once heavily exercised. As citizens to a nation that says that we are moving towards a balanced, equalized society, it becomes our fault when we chose to ignore the perpetuation of the unbalanced gender system.

Consider the matrix scene where Neo kisses the other woman in the bathroom as Trinity watches. The first time he kissed her it wasn't good enough-because she didn't feel his passion. In Diversity, we explored ability, race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and privilege. Too often people are selfish, overindulgent, and are unfortunately unable to look at the vast diversity in the world through a lens other than their own two eyes. In Neo's case, he couldn't put his passion for Trinity into kissing the other woman...until his second try. So in a sense we need to put on a new pair of spectacles to see that love can exist anywhere and everywhere; if we just give it the chance.

The element of diversity presented throughout some of the films we have watched in our RSLM class that becomes evident is social class. We can see the impact social class has on the way people express their love. People of the lower class do not necessarily depend on material things to express their love instead they use their time. For example, in Disappearing Acts, Wesley Snipes’ character was going through a hard time in his life and he did not have a lot of money. He could not or would not even buy Chinese food for his love interest portrayed by Sanaa Lathan. He showed her that he cared for her by spending his free time with her and sharing intimate moments. On the other hand, people from a higher social class can spoil their love interests in the spur of the moment with material things. In the movie Vicki Cristina Barcelona, Javier Bardem’s character was able to offer the females of his choice an all-inclusive trip to a romantic countryside in Italy. There is no right or wrong way to express love for someone but social class can impact the way someone chooses to express that love.

I agree with Shernada. Social class definitely plays a role in how we chose to display our love for our partner. What I've noticed about love versus social class is that couples who fall in the bottom of the social class pyramid appear to display love that seemed a lot more genuine. This is not to say that wealthier couples display phony love. I've just noticed that when you don't have money overshadowing you, your true personality comes out and people are able to accept you for who you are as opposed to what you can do for them. In relationships where money is not easily attainable, people become more creative in the way that they chose to express love. The time and effort they put into the creativity makes the occasion that much more meaningful. While luxury items can symbolize honest, heartfelt gesticulations, there something charming and appealing about a lover who cooks a nice full course meal in comparison to a lover who takes you to a fancy and overpriced restaurant (where they food is not even guaranteed to be good).

I agree with Gina about Richard Gere's character, Julian. Julian probably comes from a place of a poor socioeconomic background and is using privileged and affluent women to lead a lifestyle he would otherwise not have. The movie Jiggolo shows how sex can be a motive to earn money which shows how classism can affect a person's life, this including Richard Gere's character, Julian. Richard Gere's character shows how oppression happens. I particularly thought this movie was interesting as it comes from a male prostitute instead of a female prostitute perspective which shows a blend of otherwise distinct gender lines in our society. The question I have though is if it was a woman, would she still live an affluent lifestyle because of her chosen profession (like Richard Gere's character) or would she be on the streets, trying to earn as much money as she can? Is this a double standard against women? Or are the societal norms of gender crossed more than we think? This movie shows how class, privilege and gender can be incorporated into a Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage course.

I think that when it comes to matters of the heart (love) there is no such thing as justice. This is because love is not won or lost, it is not earned or sold. love is an emotional game of Russian roulette. The story seems to be told a hundred times there is the logical choice for love and there is the wild card (the true feeling of love).like in the movie Vicki Cristina Barcelona when Vicki feels she should love her fiance the logic choice but she is pulled towards the love of Juan. i have experienced this in my life when i live 1000 miles away from the woman i truly love and it would be smarter to give up and let go to save my self from the pain it causes me from a love sick heart. but when it comes to love usually the decision everyone thinks is dumb is the right choice or at least i hope for my sake.

Shernada definitely has some great examples from the films that we've watched in the class that I forgot about! Going off of that, Bull Durham and She's Gotta Have it are prime examples of social status potentially coming into play in choosing prospective romantic/sexual/love interests. In instances where love is perceived to be a choice, elements of status, privilege, etc can be a determining factor. Privilege, status, and other factors in diversity can also limit or enhance the amount of opportunities one has to participating in romance, sex, love, and marriage.


It can be argued that even the act of having sex in which one person is physically on top of another person can be representative of who is most dominant in the relationship.


Marriage is another potential means of enforcing dominance, status, and other elements of diversity. Interracial marriages/relationships at this point are still not accepted by a great number of people in our society. Also, arranged marriages in other cultures can further depict how social status can be emphasized over love. As read in Emma Goldman's "On the Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation, and Marriage and Love" she writes, "...'Till death doth part,' has been denounced as an institution that stands for the sovereignty of the man over the woman, of her complete submission to his whims and commands, and absolute dependence on his name and support." This notion takes into account from a women's perceptive, the amount of dependence and servitude the institution of marriage can place on an individual. While this definitely isn't true in all cases of marriage or for all women, it sheds some light on how marriage can further establish the distinction of unequal living conditions.


It is clear that there is definitely an overlap of diversity in the context of romance, sex, love, and marriage.

Romance is illustrated among people differently. What I find to be romantic or loving is not necessarily the same for another individual. In Feeling Minnesota I would say that the sexual encounter between Keanu Reeves and Cameron Diaz is romantic. Where as someone else may look at that scene and say it was just sex. I portrayed that scene as Keanu Reeves providing a moment of escape for Cameron Diaz. She was forced into a marriage that she truly did not want. She was attracted to Reeves and being able to have sex with him was a way for her to have some control. I think that there is a level of romance when a man is willing to help a woman feel some sense of control in her life. He saw that she was unhappy and that moment they shared together was a moment of equality. They were both attracted to each other, it was not forced.

I agree that diversity can be found in all the films we watched in class. After thinking about one of the more recent movies, Casablanca, I managed to find a link that I did not think of at first. The romance between Bogart and Bergman's characters are the main focus but I think it is in the love between Bergman and Henreid's that faces big issues. Isla and Victor are very much in love but torn apart by politics and race issues during the rise of the Third Reich. The pain on Isla's face when she reveals she 'had a husband once but he is dead' in the Paris scene with Rick was evident. She had her first love but lost him because of issues with the state. The fact that she was unable to find out if he was alive for so long because they were a secret relationship is sad. A great love that would end in marriage should be shared, not hidden but Victor and Isla had to for safety reasons. Victor would not let their marriage be known so Isla would be safe. In my opinion that would put a strain on any relationship, being so in love and not being able to tell anyone. I think that is why I feel their marriage was strong and Rick was right to not let Isla leave it. They had been through a lot and loved each other enough to end up together after being secret for so long and facing obstacles like other loves in their loves. I feel without the issues of politics and society in this film the love story would not be as memorable.

I agree with Habiba when she discussed the unfair portrayal of women. In most, if not all of the movies we have watched, it seems that women are the ones being "saved" or swept off their feet. I also think that this also gives men an unfair portrayal as well. Why is it that we have only really seen men doing the romancing, and for the most part, making the first move?

We've seen a lot of films that touch on different people throughout the world. I enjoy seeing how different cultures and different types of personalities view and respond to romance, sex, love, and marriage. In the film Feeling Minnesota, Cameron Diaz portrayed a lower-class, rough around the edges, Southern woman. Her attraction to her new brother-in-law, played by Keanu Reeves, ultimately lead to coitus on the floor of a bathroom. Although Cameron might have been attracted to Keanu, their relationship seemed purely sexual. “Our sexual desire for another person tends to make us view him or her merely as a thing, as a sexual object.” (Alan Soble, PS) Even though her attraction to him seemed real, I believe Cameron saw Keanu as a challenge. He was not only her brother-in-law but was also just released from prison.

The film clipped seemed to be an honest depiction of what can really happen when it comes to sex. Sometimes people aren't into all of the frills that romance and love have to offer. It could come from their upbringing, like in Cameron's character's case, love and romance doesn't seem like it was ever present in her life growing up. She is doing what she knows and what her 'pimp' says. For some people, sex is just sex. It is just a different lifestyle.

Many of the movies created in Hollywood only address one type of relationship love: heterosexual. If we ourselves are heterosexual, we don’t notice the lack of homosexual relationship coverage because we can already relate to what is portrayed in the movies. For example, in the movies listed above I believe only one of them touches on homosexual relationship: Broke Back Mountain. Of course homosexual relationships in movies don’t stand out to the heterosexual group because, we look for love stories we can relate to. Therefore in our Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage class we need to have alternate perspective on relationships so we can see romance in any given movie. Within this movie the wife of Heath Ledger’s character saw when her husband was kissing Jake Gyllenhaal’s character she did nothing to confront them about their ‘wrong’ actions possibly thinking of her own secrets and it being uncovered if she addressed her husband’s. In the article Letter on Marriage and Fidelity the author states “though it seems that you wish to escape notice yourself, by condemning him you will take away the veil that covers your own condition.” She couldn’t relate to the situation so she decided not to address it within her marriage. We must then open our minds when looking at movies and remember that equality is needed even there and lend our support the LGBTQ community and there needed inclusion.

“If he has been properly prepared for it by you, he will be all the more ashamed; he will wish to be reconciled sooner and, because he is warmly attached to you, he will love you more tenderly.” This quote can be a perfect example of the movie clip from Casablanca on how important it is to incorporate elements of diversity & social justice in our Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage class. However, most of the scenes were mostly about romance, love and marriage. In this movie we can see how diverse in culture the places are (Paris, Morocco) when Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund were meeting one another at different locations. Basically, the quote best describes when Rick asked Ilsa to leave the country and go elsewhere to get married, that was true love and romantic as well. We can tell Rick was falling apart when he received letter that Ilsa can no longer leave with him and get married because she received news saying that her husband Ugarte was alive and needed her help. The infidelity also occurred in this movie when Ugarte and Isla were in Casablanca. She was trying to ‘hook up” with Rick because she believed that they were romantically still in love. This proves that how diverse Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage can be. Even in Africa (Casablanca).

This class has really brought thought provoking concepts to the table when dealing with different aspects of diversity in a class that focuses on romance, sex, love, and marriage. Everyone so far seemed to have touched on some of the points I came up with when reading the discussion question; in how different cultures, social class, and sexual orientation played an essential role in the learning in this class. The diversity in the films we see is the backbone of this class, and has really expanded my horizon and understanding of romance, sex, love, and marriage. One of the themes that I felt was prevalent was the diversity in cultures that we saw in the films. The one that I found particularly interesting was the bold and free-spirited romantic feel of a few of the European films we saw. Before Sunrise is an example of how being in a new unfamiliar place can make one feel like he or she has nothing to lose. When Jesse met Celine at a train station, he went on a limb and tried picking her up right then and there. Also, Sex and Lucia depicts a woman who had stark courage (in my opinion) when Lucia told Lorenzo that she was in love with him after reading his books. In some of the American films we watched, A Lot Like Love for example, we often see a wall that one of the characters puts up and the other one helps to break that wall down. It’s interesting how the two cultures and settings create differences in how the relationships in the films unfold.

I can certainly see Habiba’s point about how many scenes in each of the films listed above can be considered sexist, specifically the “the unfair, biased portrayal of women” each contains. Ingrid Bergman’s character in “Casablanca” did seem to be reliant on men (or perhaps love) to survive, becoming so attached to Humphrey Bogart’s character quickly after hearing word that her husband, played by Paul Henreid, had died. As Emma Goldman states, “Indeed, if partial emancipation is to become a complete and true emancipation of woman, it will have to do away with the ridiculous notion that to be loved, to be sweetheart and mother, is synonymous with being a slave or subordinate. It will have to do away with the absurd notion of dualism of the sexes, or that man and woman represent two antagonistic worlds.” And this could be applied to other movies, such as “The Matrix Reloaded”, in which Carrie-Anne Moss’ character (Trinity) is miraculously saved by Keanu Reeve’s character (Neo) as she falls from a skyscraper. But Trinity, in the act of putting herself in danger, saved Neo from certain doom herself. (Indeed, in the previous movie, “The Matrix”, Trinity saves Neo’s life multiple times, and even seems to be a sort of force that pushes him to become the hero of the films.) She even says after her life is saved, “I guess this makes us even.” How about Maribel Verdú’s (Lucia’s) obvious power over the two men (or perhaps boys) in “Y Tu Mamá También”? While I can’t argue that these examples suddenly puts gender portrayals in balance as far as Hollywood goes (they aren’t), but there can be instances in which the genders are more balanced.


The movies, Bull Durham and She’s Gotta Have It, are prime examples of how social status and privilege can affect choosing a prospective romantic/sexual/love interest. The level of social status and privilege can also potentially affect the amount of opportunities one has to pursue such interests.


Sex in itself can be seen as enforcing unequal distribution of power. It can be argued that the person who is physically on top of the other person during intercourse could represent the individual who is most dominant in the relationship.


Marriage is an institution in which diversity comes into play as well. Take interracial relationships or arranged marriages, for instance. Some people have yet to accept lovers of two different races and arranged marriages can sometimes lead to the choice of social status over love. As read in Emma Goldman’s essay, “ ‘…till death doth part,’ has been denounced as an institution that stands for the sovereignty of the man over the woman, of her complete submission to his whims and commands, and absolute dependence on his name and support.” Although this doesn’t occur for all women or in all marriages, it puts into perspective what marriage could be seen to represent. Speaking from a women’s point of view, Goldman makes the argument that even the concept of marriage can further establish unequal living conditions.


As you can see, there is an overlap of diversity in the context of romance, sex, love, and marriage.

I believe the movies watched in Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage class show a lot of different diversity when it comes to gender roles. In the film Love Jones, we learn that there are different types of men, the unusual and the typical. We come across the Renaissance man; a man that enjoys poetry and photography. We see Larenz Tate’s character as a poet that falls in love with Nia Long’s character. Tate and Long’s ex- boyfriend, Khalil Kain are from two different worlds, also showing a diversity of men. Long’s ex-boyfriend Kain feels he can take care of her and wanting her to not worry about hire for a job because he can take care of them both. Men are not usually portrayed in this light. In most movies, men are seen as bad boys, men who play hard to get, or men that are always the heroes. In The Matrix we see Keanu Reeves as a heroic figure, a man who has the power to save his people from dying. Instead of saving his people, he chooses to save the women he loved. We see Reeves character as the typical guy in most movies, the men that women want. In Love Jones, Long’s ex-boyfriend would be considered the typical guy, the money making man who willing to take care of his girl and wants her to not worry whereas Tate is a poet who is not working. Tate doesn’t complain about Long wanting to work because it is something she enjoys and wants her to be happy.

It is important to teach RSLM from different aspects because it enables the class structure as well as the students to be engaged in the diversity of topics discussed. Also when one thinks Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage, they conceive the views of the heterosexual majority. Incorporating various viewpoints allows those who are not the majority in the class to feel more comfortable and accepted for their sexual preferences. Also taboo lifestyles such as polygamy and sadomasochism are explored. Personally some of the themes mentioned I do not agree with but looking at it from the film perspective allowed me to have more understanding and expectance of why people are into these genres of romance, sex, love, and marriage.

In Eyes Wide Shut, social standards keep the Nicole Kidman’s and Tom Cruise’s characters from acting on their feelings. From the clips we saw we only know that Cruise is a doctor. We do not see what Kidman does for a living (if she has a career or job). For Kidman, doing something that could ultimately end her marriage would also probably drop her from the seemingly high ranking social status (which can be tied to their race - white - the dominant figure’s gender - male - as well as the couples sexual orientation - heterosexual). Ironically, despite their level of privilege, their relationship is tainted by their desire to stray from their monogamous relationship. Emma Goldman writes, “From infancy, almost, the average girl is told that marriage is her ultimate goal…” Kidman admits that when she was tempted to sleep with the man at the hotel and decided against it, and, that in that moment, Cruise was everything to her. Was he everything because her having held back from acting on her feelings reflected how much she cared form her husband and family or is it because without him she would be ill-prepared to take care of herself? Is she that little girl Goldman describes, raised to fit well into a marriage, prepared to take on a subordinate roles rather than a dominant one?

f all the films that I have watched in RSLM and Diversity class; my favorite was the Matrix. As far as diversity was introduced, we saw people ranging from many different creeds and colors. Enjoyed the fact that Lawrence Fishborne was the master (obi-wan) of Neo. Although there were strong heterosexual overtones. As the human civilization was on the brink of destruction the people were dancing and being together while a long frolicking scene was dedicated towards neo and trinity. When Neo was speaking to “The Architect”, an ultimatum was created. The Architect offered two options. Save humanity in which he will have to keep 6 males and 8 females or risk everything to try and save Trinity from death. The ultimatum was ableism. To have to choose between the entirety of the species or love is ridiculous. The architect has the ability to see the matrix and all it has to offer, yet he cant see past love.

It is important to incorporate elements of diversity and social class in RSLM, because all those elements factor into our relationships. If the class was taught through a monolithic lens it would be more of an instructional class. Teaching us the proper ways to engage in our relationships. However, we are all unique, therefore there is no proper way to love. In the film Bound, Gina Gershon’s character has an affair with Jennifer Tilly, who is currently seeing Joe Pantoliano. When Joe comes home he walks in on Jennifer and Gina. At first he is angered because he thought Jennifer was with a man. When he realizes his girlfriend was with a woman he laughs at himself, the idea that his girlfriend could be interested in a woman is just so foreign to him, he cant see what is in front of his face. He is so set in his own idea of gender roles, he cannot see how complexly beautiful the woman he’s dating really is. It is important to keep an open mind with lovers and our love, that’s why I feel diversity is huge part of this class.

I really loved Habiba’s comment to this blog. Although I do not completely agree with its intensity, I have often shared the same feelings. I do not understand why women are so often portrayed as weak in films. It hurts me as a woman to watch as the media downplays our roles, or portrays us as princesses waiting for our prince charming to save us from ourselves. The media has such a strong effect on our youth, it is important our young girls grow up with strong female influences in our lives. I would really like to see more examples of love involving two power players, and less examples of films portraying women as weak individuals who need to be saved.

To fit in with the discussion of how diversity is prevalent in a class that discusses romance, sex, love, and marriage I feel like it’s also important to recognize the diversity in relationship styles within these topics. There are two films that demonstrate the differences in how couples feel about fooling around with another partner of the same sex. Kinsey admitted to his wife that he is in love with her, but he had experimented sexually with a man, which ultimately crushed her. The realization I came across was how married men who experiment with other men is characterized as taboo, while I have heard from real life instances and in a few of the film clips such as XXXY where a man accepts or is even aroused by the sight of two women being sexual with each other. This could be argued as a gender issue or one of sexuality, but I find this difference in values interesting. Could it be because women are more insecure about their partners turning to the same sex, or is it a difference in taste with what men and women find arousing? It certainly varies from person to parson, but I believe our culture has made “girl on girl” action more socially appealing and desirable for men.

I believe that there are social justice issues portrayed in all films. The film Bound portrays an unsteady relationship between Jennifer Tilly and Joe Pantoliano’s characters, both from a higher class. Whereas Gina Gershon’s character being a maintenance woman from a lower class. Class is one of the main social justice issues along with sexual orientation. The two females have a fling in the film without Pantoliano character finding out. “Even if we are emotionally committed to one person, our sexual instincts will continue to behave as if in ignorance of this commitment.” (Armstrong) The sexual attraction between the females causes them to continue their fling even though Tilly is in a committed relationship with Pantoliano.

Before taking this class and Diversity Through Film I did not pick up on the social justice issues displayed in films. Now when I watch films I am able to pick things up that I never saw in the past. In all of the films we watched in class the underlying theme was race, gender, ability, sexual orientation or class/privilege with a Sex, Love, Romance or Marriage spin on it.

We have seen a lot of movies throughout our Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage class that have portrayed different instances dealing with diversity and social justice. Both of these situations i feel falls very well into the different themes we have covered over the past number of weeks because without certain diverse or social justice situations in the film clips we wouldn't have chance to see how in depth and different the characters in each of the films actually are. Take the Matrix Reloaded for example. In the scene where Neo has to kiss Persephone passionately to get to the key maker doesn't give him and social justice. He was kissing another woman who he does not love pretending like he was kissing Trinity; the woman he does love. Behind the kiss you don't really think of how diverse Neo and Persephone really are. Neo is a lower middle class man who is brought inot the Matrix and is giving everything he needs to succeed in that world, for example strength, power, love etc. Persephone on the other hand is a very wealthy woman who has everything she could ever ask for except for one main thing; love.

I truly like how diverse all of the film clips are that we have watched in class. If all the films were taught through a monolithic lens then we wouldn't have a chance to explore each theme from different situations and viewpoints.

I agree Megan, men do express themselves more openly about having more women for sex. Women could have a higher degree of insecurity because of the question “ why...am I not enough?”. Although the experience changes the dynamic of the bedroom. The movie “Sex Monster” a married couple, Marty and Laura, engage in an intimate setting with another women. It would pose the question, would communication and articulating how each partner feel would create a difference in intimacy. However, this is deemed moot by the Matrix, when Neo needed to kiss another women in order to help save the human race. As soon as the proposition came up Trinity, Neo's significant other, pulled out a gun and almost ended her life. Does this show how protecting something that is precious that you love over takes our carnal primal passion?

Megan, when you talked about “the diversity in relationship styles” you sparked a thought. Despite the different sexual orientations, classes, race, etc. there was a certain level of dysfunction in most (maybe all) of the relationships we’ve watched in these films. There’s the couple in Baby Boy and their verbal abuse, a shouting match that ends in the bedroom. There’s Billy Bob Thornton and that awkward love triangle between his wife and sister-in-law/ex-lover. How could we forget Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruises’ on screen relationship, or young Cameron Diaz, forced to marry one man, and only moments after the I do’s, having sex with his brother... Despite privilege or lack of, socio-economic status, race, gay or heterosexual… romance, sex, love and marriage is all complicated, and while those things can affect our relationships, RSL&M stand on their own somewhat too.

I agree with Allison. Going back to the film Bound, Pantoliano’s character came in during a scene when the two women had begun messing around; he got upset thinking that his wife was messing around with a man. When he saw that the person was a woman he began laughing and brushing off the scenario thinking that he has no competition with a woman against his wife. He didn’t see his wife having a homosexual affair as a threat. This is another instance where people don’t see the love in a homosexual relationship and would take it for granted their love. Homosexuality because it is now on the rise in our culture for acceptance because of all of the rights and equality they are being given from the government, still have to work hard to be seen as equal. This is an important social justice category, sexual orientation.

After watching these films, I really became interested in the different cultures and diversity from the films. I decided to sign up for Diversity Through Film for next semester.

I agree with Allison that these films touch on different social issues while still ringing true the theme of this class. It showed how different types of people in different situations react to sex, love, romance, and marriage. . “Love and the roles of being a lover redefine the self in a dynamic and dramatic way. They lift the self out of the ordinary, convert the world into a dramatic stage and keep us reaching for something “higher”. (About Love: Privacy & Romantic Roles) The way people handle love and the roles of being a lover isn't always positive. In the film Baby Boy, the main couple does love each other but they are faced with issues like infidelity and social issues like income. It has changed them dramatically as a couple but they trying to work it out by keeping their sex life on the for-front.

I admit that referring to Brokeback Mountain isn't the most original choice (Shannon already mentioned it), but I would like to take a moment to contemplate how the character played by Heath Ledger (Ennis) noted the social injustice related to his homosexual relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal's character (Jack). It's noted in "In Defense of Homosexuality", "The denial of legal marriage, the pressure to remain in the closet, and the overt hostility toward homosexual relationships are all more conducive to transient, clandestine encounters than they are to long-term unions. As a result, that which is challenging enough for heterosexual couples--settling down and building a life together--becomes far more challenging for homosexual couples." Indeed, Heath's character, directly after a sexual encounter with Jake's character admits that there is no future in which they are together. He admits that, since the society in which they reside is so against the idea of homosexuality, and so focused on heterosexual relationships (let alone heterosexual marriages), that there is utterly no hope for their relationship.

I believe Habiba and Gina both point out a great thing, the portrayal of women and men in the relationships. How many of us watch a scene in a romantic movie like 'He's Just Not That Into You' between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston's characters and swoon? I know when he proposed to her, I heard half the class sigh or saw them just looked at each other smiling. The question is raised why does it have to be that way? Why couldn't Jen propose to him? Why was it the man that couldn't commit, why couldn't the woman be the one to say she didn't want to get married? I think it is because audiences would not respond well to that, it is not what we were taught through movies and society growing up. The woman is always a bit more submissive and the man is the one that romances her and wins her affection. I know in a show I watched, the woman in the relationship proposed and a whole episode was dedicated to how the town reacted and how the man 'lost' that moment that was supposed to be his. I think it is wrong and it puts unrealistic ideas into the heads of people watching it. It makes many woman in our society meek, claiming not being able to talk to the guy first because it is not "right". What is right? Who has the power to say "this is how it is going to be, you cannot deviate from the norm or else you will be criticized"? So to answer the question Gina raised of why we only see men romancing and making the first move, I believe it is because that is what the audience wants to see. They want to see Prince Charming or a hero saving the day, they don't want to step outside of their comfort zone therefore Hollywood rarely changes it. That is something that is wrong and maybe someone should focus more on changing so women can be empowered like we truly are and men can take a break from all the pressure places on them.

I agree with Shernada’s statement that social class has an impact on love. I also feel that male privilege has an impact on love. Women tend to lower themselves so that their man can feel more empowered. Mo’ Better Blues is an example of male dominance in a relationship. Clarke bowed down to Bleek and did whatever it took to make him happy. Bleek had a control over Clarke. Clarke deep down wanted to be in a relationship with Bleek but because he didn’t want a relationship, she was willing to be with him under any circumstances.
Male dominance is often shown in films by men feeling that they own the women they are with. And women tend to allow men to feel this way. Therefore I feel that both social class and male privilege have an impact on love.

I can agree with Allison that social justice is prominent theme that can be seen throughout some of the movies we have watched. In the movie Your Neighbors and Friends, Jason Patric’s character basically confessed to raping a fellow classmate in high school who was also a male but yet, his friends did not put him check. It was mind boggling to me that they just sat there and listened to him as he described rape as something his victim enjoyed or wanted. Jason Patric’s character and his high school teammates who participated in the rape treated their victim as an object each taking turns with him. It was a cowardice move of the characters that Ben Stiller and Aaron Eckhart portrayed in the movie to just continue on with their conversation as if Jason Patric’s character was telling a story about having sex with his first love. They should have told him how perverted and disturbing his story was so that he can realize it is not okay to treat another human being in that manner. I think this also illustrates an important problem in today’s society. Some people are passive and they don’t always stand up for what they know is right because they think it does not affect them; but it does affect everyone because we are all human beings and we are susceptible to being treated like an object if people allow their friends and family members to do wrong onto others without correcting them or trying to help them understand why what they are doing is wrong.


To go off what Meagan is saying about abut diverse relationships, there was different lifestyle lived by the husband, Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain. This relationship Ledger has with Gyllenhaa is considered being on the “Down Low”, although Ledger is married with a child, he has a secret relationship with a person of the same sex. Ledger’s character sees Jake Gyllenhaal character and is filled with excitement. They have not seen each other in years, which lead them to kiss passionately. During the kiss Michelle Williams’ character, the wife of Ledge sees this but does not say or do anything about it. Also showing how weak women are portrayed in films. If Williams’ character would have said something, she would have gotten a clear understanding of what was going on instead of keeping quiet about the kiss. I agree with Habiba when she says that women play these “subordinate roles where they are unable to fully express or communicate her full power/capabilities” (Brimah, 2011). Williams may have been in shock when she saw her husband ledger and Gyllenhaal but she still could have spoke up and express her feelings about the situation.

In Theano’s letter about Marriage and Fidelity she writes, “You must not be jealous of that woman… rather, you must make yourself fit for reconciliation.” In the film Daddy and Them, Billy Bob Thornton’s wife says she would do whatever Thornton had done sexually with his sister-in-law, use whatever toys he’d like to please him. She is jealous of the past relationship between her sister and husband and, like Theano says, is shaping herself to “fit” Thornton’s wants and needs, even if she is turned off. Rather than Thornton being more considerate of his wife’s feelings and not make her feel uncomfortable when he talks and jokes with her sister, she feels the only solution is for her to conform to him. This could be looked at through a gender lens, but it could also be seen through a socio-economic lens as well. It is possible the wife was raised to mold herself around her husband, where as another woman from a different place or with a different level of socio-economic status may not feel the need to do so, may be more independent. Also, Thornton’s social upbringing may have contributed to his lack of consideration for his wife. So while the man/woman dynamic is more obvious, class can also have something to do with the dynamics of this relationship.

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