August 07, 2005

Film & book review: Petals

On Thursday I went to a screening and discussion of a documentary film called Petals: A Journey Into Self-Discovery. This being a film about fostering vulva self-image, I was prepared to be supportive but bored (I mean, I sell t-shirts about this).

Instead, I had a lot of fun and met lots of great people! I’ve just posted a review of Petals, the book of beautiful vulva photos featured in the film. (You can order the book from the artist or from Amazon.)

I think the reasons I find this Petals project interesting, despite my being saturated with vagina-talk, are firstly that the photos are stylish and quite lovely and secondly that I rarely encounter vagina-projects that involve men.

Petals is a book of photos taken by a man, the film is directed by a man and includes opinions and reactions from lots of other men. I don’t think I’m having a backlash against feminist art or women or anything; I’m just really interested in complicating things. Men getting involved in vulva imagery and discussions of women’s body image brings up a bunch of possibilities about gender relations, roles, eroticism and sexual competition. In the case of Petals, these are handled well.

At some point in the film, photographer Nick Karras talked about trying to do this work with masculine energy, to create loving images of vulvas and feminine power by working in masculine ways. I’m pretty much always intrigued by efforts to expand roles rather than create new roles.

I should also mention that Nick is an engaging guy and a good eater, and if he shows up in your town you should have breakfast with him like I did yesterday.

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