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Sexy Baby Documentary Examines Female Sexuality in the Cyberage

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Winnifred and her friend do a photo shoot in Sexy Baby | Two to Tangle Productions

The Traverse City Film Festival is celebrating women at its 8th annual outing, July 31 through August 5. Women’s rights, women’s health and women filmmakers take center stage with films like Julia Reichert’s Growing Up Female, Amalie Rothschild’s It Happens To Us, Rory Kennedy’s Ethel, and clips from The Chicago Maternity Center Story.

Sexy Baby is a documentary that takes an unflinching look at women in our modern times and reveals how the sexual landscape has changed with the cyberage. (As a side note, if you Google “cyberage,” it brings up an adult web site – no, I’m not linking to it here). Directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus discovered a few disturbing trends:

  • Having pubic hair is considered gross and unattractive.
  • Most youngsters know someone who has emailed or texted a naked photo of themselves.
  • Many kids have accidentally or intentionally had their first introduction to sex via hardcore online porn.
  • Facebook has created an arena where kids compete to be “liked” and constantly worry about what image to portray.
Traverse City Film Festival: Susan Sarandon to be Honored

In Sexy Baby, Jill and Ronna decided to tell the story through three people:

Laura, a 22-year-old kindergarten teacher who undergoes labia reduction surgery to give her boyfriend the porn star body he likes to watch online. Look, I try not to judge, but I had to wonder about the stability of a relationship based on his desire for a porn star’s parts “down there” and her decision to give him that. And yet, she truly believed that the surgery would enhance her life. I felt for her mom who wanted to support her daughter’s decision, but burst into tears at the thought of it. And if you’re at all squeamish, you might want to look away during the scene where we actually SEE the labia surgery. I’m not gonna lie – it’s tough to watch.

Traverse City Film Festival: The Line-Up

Winnifred, a 12-year-old living in New York City who’s both an emerging feminist starring in a girl-power play and a growing teen caught up in Facebook and social networking. Her parents try to guide her through this new terrain, and as the mom of a 15-year-old girl, I identified with their plight. You can’t shield kids from everything, but you can darn well be involved enough in their lives to know what’s going on.

Nichole, a.k.a. Nakita Kash, a 32-year-old former porn star and pole dancer who competed on season three of America’s Got Talent. I actually remember her from AGT, and she wasn’t bad, although I don’t really get pole dancing, in general. She and her husband Dave are attempting to settle into a conventional life and start a family while at the same time build an Internet porn business. When asked how he’d feel about explaining the porn business to his child, Dave is at a loss for words. That says a lot.

It’s a very challenging world we live in now, and Jill and Ronna offer perspectives from three insightful women with a lot to say. It doesn’t matter if you’re a male, female, parent or teen, you’ll find something to identify with in this thoughtful film that doesn’t shy away from asking the tough questions — and demanding the answers.

Traverse City Film Festival: Bernie Review

Other women’s films at the Traverse City Film Festival include Taking Our Bodies Back, Turn Me On Dammit, The World Before Her, and a collection of shorts that include Anything You Want to Be, Make Out and Up Against the Wall Miss America.

I have to ask: If you’re a female, would you ever consider labia surgery? Just the thought of it makes me shiver – and not in a good way. 

Jane Boursaw is the founder and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Her credits include hundreds of print and online publications, including The New York Times, People Magazine, Variety, Moviefone, TV Squad and more. Follow her on Twitter at @reellifejane.

Jane Boursaw has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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4 comments

  1. Alexandra

    This sounds like a really interesting film festival.  You really have to wonder at the boyfriend who would want his girlfriend to have an operation so her private parts resemble what, “the porn star body he likes to watch?”  Excuse me.  How crazy can people be?    Porn disgusts me.  My husband was a longtime addict.  Most men are, I’ve been told.  I cannot even imagine his asking me to get such an operation.  (I like to think I helped him get over his addiction by reminding him that the girls he liked to watch masturbating on the Internet could have been his granddaughter, had she been kidnapped and forced to pose.)  

    • I think it really brings it all home when you start asking the porn-enthusiasts what they’d think if it was their own kids or grandkids. I’m sure Dave – the porn star’s husband – wouldn’t like to see his daughter on the screen. I wonder if they’ll get out of the business at some point. It really is disgusting.

  2. Ugh. Some of that makes me cringe. As someone who writes about sex quite a bit (books, articles, erotica), it’s certainly an interesting and troubling study.

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