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A Brief Survey of Sexually Autonomous Women in Film

Another “it happened one crazy summer” film opened this weekend, but this time it’s a young woman kick-starting her own sexual awakening. The To Do List, starring Aubrey Plaza, is the latest female-centric film to attempt to bridge the gender gap in the buddy/romantic/sex comedy genre, following on the heels of The Heat.

“Brandy Clark is clearly a feminist, but she’s also boy crazy and I think that’s totally fine too. She’s just like a normal teenager who’s curious about sex,” director Maggie Carey said of Plaza’s character. “This is a female perspective that you don’t always get to see, I’m not saying this was intentional, but it challenges a lot of things. As much as it says about women, it’s also saying about men. We’re all three-dimensional. You can’t put any person in any kind of a box due to their gender or anything.”

In praise of female sexual autonomy in film, here is a brief survey of women exploring their desires in movies that attempt to push the boundaries of female formulaic conventions.

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Turn Me On, Dammit!

Jannicke Systad Jacobsen’s teen sex comedy is a welcome change from the American movies starring horny boys humping apple pies and young women as objects to be conquered. The coming-of-age tale centers on a 15-year-old girl in a small Norwegian town. Hormones raging, Alma (Helene Bergsholm) explores her burgeoning sexuality through awkward phone sex sessions and encounters with a crushable classmate. The young girl’s mother doesn’t quite know how to deal with it all. Alma believes her feelings are natural, but her classmates stigmatize her for the same behaviors men are applauded for. The film smartly portrays adolescent sexual frustration with honesty and wit.

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