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Films and Texts for a Sexuality Course

This file contains two discussions about resources for courses on
sexuality.  The first asks for films appropriate for use in such
a course; the second seeks suggestions for new texts.  The
discussions took place on WMST-L in July and October, 2004.  For
additional WMST-L files available on the Web, see the
WMST-L File Collection.    


Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 08:14:37 -0700
From: Rachel Westfall <rachel@VICTORIA.TC.CA>
Subject: Request: video suggestions for human sexuality course
I will be teaching a course in human sexuality (Sociology department) for
the first time this January.  The course is at a 3rd year undergrad level
and includs topics such as the language of sexuality, childhood and teen
sexuality, heterosexualities, pregnancy/ childbirth/ menopause and
sexuality, sex and disability, STIs, bisexualities, homosexualities, and
transgenders.  Suggestions for suitable films would be much appreciated.

Thanks kindly,

Rachel Westfall
Post-doctoral fellow
Department of Sociology
University of Victoria
PO BOX 3050, MS 7046
Victoria, B.C. Canada
V8W 3P5
rachelw  AT


Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 12:31:31 -0500
From: D. Frisbie <danellefrisbie AT>
Subject: Re: Request: video suggestions for human sexuality course
Showtime's recent "The Opposite Sex: Jamie's Story" and "The Opposite Sex:
Rene's Story" were well documented and used in a couple of the classes I
work with in our discussion of transgender issues in U.S. society today.
They both include panel discussions at the end with professionals in the
field of human sexuality, psychologists, and those who have lived the
experience as a transgender man/woman.

Danelle Frisbie
University of Northern Iowa
Women's Studies Graduate Assistant
danellefrisbie  AT


Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 20:27:27 -0800
From: diana blaine <dblaine AT USC.EDU>
Subject: suggestions for sexuality course videos
I recommend "Hermaphrodites Speak."  You can get it from the Intersex
Society of North America,


Diana York Blaine, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer
The Writing Program and Gender Studies
University of Southern California
dblaine  AT

"Serving the Moon Goddess since 1961"


Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 20:34:30 -0700
From: Kari Kesler <karikesler AT HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Request: video suggestions for human sexuality course

Two vidoes I recently used in an Intro to Sexualities course were "You Don't
Know Dick," a great documentary about MTF transsexuals, and "Our Bodies, Our
Minds" a documentary about sex work. The class really enjoyed both of them.

Kari Kesler
karikesler  AT


Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 06:54:57 -0500
From: Stephanie Hargrave <sjhargrave AT WICHITA.EDU>
Subject: Re: Request: video suggestions for human sexuality course
You Don't Know Dick is about FTM transsexuals. It is a wonderful movie that
I use regularly in my Psychology of Women course.  I also used "Sex:
Unknown" (PBS Videos) about the "John/Joan" case as it has come to be known.
This was well done, asks a lot of questions about the
differences/similarities of gender and sex, and my students talked about it
all semester long.

Stephanie Hargrave
Wichita State University
Psychology Department
sjhargrave  AT

Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 10:03:02 -0400
From: Loraine Hutchins <lorainehutchins AT STARPOWER.NET>
Subject: Re: sexuality teaching videos
"First Do No Harm" is a 20 minute video produced by the Intersex Society of
North America. It is aimed at medical professionals and parents and
discusses how to most sensitively deal with intersex children from birth
onward. It's great for adding another dimension to discussions of gender.
Intersex means somewhere between male and female, with some aspects of both
(used to be called hermaphrodites). Different intersex conditions occur in
one in every several thousand births and are not well-recorded or studied or
understood due to so much shame and either/or male/female classifications of
our culture.


Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 08:36:26 -0500
From: Jodie Hertzog <Jodie.Hertzog AT WICHITA.EDU>
Subject: Re: Request: video suggestions for human sexuality course
Two videos that I've used in different classes are:

1.  Century of Women:  Sexuality (I usually only show the clip on Margaret
Sanger & the U.S. birth control movement, but other parts of the video are
good also)

2.  Sex, Love, & Babies (Depicts 3 focus groups, men only, women only,
couples, discussing the transition to parenthood on sexuality & intimacy.
The transitions between topical clips are kind of silly, but I warn
students ahead and we just laugh at them.)

Jodie Hertzog
Assistant Professor
Sociology Dept.
Wichita State University
jodie.hertzog  AT


Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 12:15:21 -0500
From: D. Frisbie <danellefrisbie AT>
Subject: Re: Request: video suggestions for human sexuality course
I would agree that the Century of Women: Sexuality tape is an excellent
choice to show. It has always received rave reviews from our students and
is packed with "history" lessons students are otherwise never exposed to.

> Two videos that I've used in different classes are:
> 1.  Century of Women:  Sexuality (I usually only show the clip on Margaret
> Sanger & the U.S. birth control movement, but other parts of the video are
> good also)


Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 09:48:47 -0700
From: Jen McWeeny <jmcweeny AT DARKWING.UOREGON.EDU>
Subject: Re: Request: video suggestions for human sexuality course
I have used the excellent video "Two-Spirit People" about the Berdache
tradition in some Native American cultures and it really emphasizes
how different cultures view intersexual/transgender people
differently.  Leslie Feinberg's "Outlaw" is also a good one.
Jen McWeeny
jmcweeny  AT


Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 15:20:40 -0400
From: Cari Carpenter <carimc AT KZOO.EDU>
Subject: Re: Request: video suggestions for human sexuality course
I've found the documentary "Live Nude Women Unite!" (about a sex
workers' union) useful in women's studies classes.

Kari Kesler wrote:

Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 08:31:57 -0700
From: Rachel Westfall <rachel AT VICTORIA.TC.CA>
Subject: Films- human sexuality course
I received a number of replies to my request for film suggestions, both on
and off the list-serv.  Thank you kindly to those who replied!  Here is a
list of the films recommended to me off-list.

Best wishes, Rachel

Rachel Westfall
Post-doctoral fellow
Department of Sociology
University of Victoria
PO BOX 3050, MS 7046
Victoria, B.C. Canada
V8W 3P5
rachelw  AT


from Women Make Movies.

The Girls Project (one of new initiatives of last year) has an entire
module devoted to teen sexuality which is here:

Other titles from the collection which address sexuality are below:

MAGGIE GROWLS (older women and
sexuality!!! This one is great)


A BOY NAMED SUE (2000). This documentary chronicles the transformation
of a transsexual named Theo from a woman to a man over the course of
six years. The film captures Theo's physiological and psychological
changes during the process, as well as their effects on his lesbian
lover and community of close friends. Taking full advantage of the
unlimited access she received into an extraordinarily personal
process, the director carefully composes a moving story about gender
identity, relationships, and how even things that seem permanent can
change. (Women Make movies, 56 min.)

BOYS DON'T CRY (1999).  The story of the life of Teena Brandon, a
transgender youth who preferred life in her male identity as Brandon
Teena.  A useful example of the social construction of gender, and the
devastation that can result when individuals don't conform to their
gender assignments. A Hollywood version of the documentary The Brandon
Teena Story. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 114 min)

 THE BRANDON TEENA STORY (1999). Documentary film about Brandon Teena's
struggle with identity and the hostility he faced in a rural Nebraska
town. In focusing on the last few weeks of Brandon's life, it tells
the tale of Brandon's coming of age struggle with identity and how his
gender ambiguity induced feelings of betrayal, confusion, and
hostility among the residents of an isolated American township still
attempting to understand what happened during his fateful final days.
(New Video, 88 min.)

 HERMAPHRODITES SPEAK!  Imagine growing up knowing you were different,
not quite knowing why and feeling like you were the only person in the
world like you. Eight individuals tell their stories of growing up
intersexed.  Be amazed as you witness intersex people speaking out for
the first time in their lives!  (available at the ISNA website, <>  , 60 minutes)

IS IT A BOY OR A GIRL -- From the moment of birth, everybody wants to
know is it a boy or a girl? This question can be complicated when a
third option is introduced; one out of every two thousand children in
America is born intersexual. Many argue that the standard practice of
sexual assignment by surgery in infancy should be discontinued giving
the intersexual the right to chose or not to chose surgery once that
person reaches adolescence. But whatever the surgical choice,
intersexuals show us that gender is infinitely more complex than shape
of our genitals.  (available at the ISNA website,
<>  , 60 minutes)

IT'S A BOY (2001).  A touching portrait of several female-to-male
individuals who share their experiences of transitioning through their
poetics and their politics. (San Francisco queer film festival
<> , 30 min)

JUST LIKE A WOMAN (1992). A British film about a heterosexual
cross-dressing man and his relationship with a woman. A transvestite
heterosexual, Gerald is booted out by his wife for suspected
infidelity: she's found lacy panties that aren't hers. He leaves
regretfully, moving into a rooming house owned by Monica, with whom he
later falls in love, and she with him. But when Monica discovers his
other side, it isn't clear who's fallen in love with whom. Has Gerald
fallen in love with her as a man or as a woman?  (The Samuel Goldwyn
Company 102 min.)

KINGS (2001).  Documents Montreal's "Mambo Drag Kings," a group of
sexy, suave, and entertaining women who have taken the city's queer
community by storm. (San Francisco queer film festival
<> , 22 min)

PARADISE BENT (1999).  This documentary focuses on the lives of third
gender people in contemporary Samoa.  Fa'afafines are men who live as
women and play an important role in Samoan culture. Fa'afafines play a
major role in bringing up children and looking after the elderly.
Paradise Bent brings up issues of culture and gender and the
complexities of sexual identity.  (Re Angle Pictures, 50 min.)

 REDEFINING SEX  Meet families of intersex people. Hear doctors on both
sides. See for yourself some of the personal dynamics resulting from
intersexuality and infant sex assignment surgery. (available at the
ISNA website, <>  , 60 minutes)

Portraits of six men who once were women. From their commentaries and
the experiences of partners, friends, and family emerges an
unforgettable story of self-discovery and a remarkable series of
reflections on the differences between male and female sexuality, on
social perceptions of gender, and on the relationship of one's
personal history to one's present life. (Center for Media and
Independent Learning, 57 min.)


A video that I have used for the portrayal of homosexuality in the movies is
"The Celluloid Closet."  If an examiniation of homosexuality in the movies
is one of your topics this video would work very well.  My students said
that their eyes were opened to the role that media plays/ed in creating a
homophobic society.

I've used the film "Chasing Amy" very successfully for
a similar course. The entire film is about sex, but I
usually show just one long scene that features a
discussion about what it means to "lose your
virginity." The topics covered include: sexual
identity and heteronormativity, emotional vs. physical
penetration, and rape among others.  The last time I
taught that course was during the Lewinsky scandal, so
the question of what counts as "sexual relations" was
on everyone's mind. I think that college students will
still find it interesting and certainly provacative
for discussion.


Frameline distributes LGBT film and video for educational purposes.  Our
catalog consists primarily of documentaries ranging from historical pieces
on the LGBT rights movement and key historical figures to personal docs
centering around family and experimental works examining sexuality, desire,
fear, etc.  We also distribute short narratives and a couple feature length

I believe that "It's Elementary" is the single most important film that
teachers can show their students to address issues of homosexuality.  The
documentary, which focuses on how public school teachers address
homosexuality in the classroom, allows students to think about their own
inculcation into heteronormativity and homophobia.

The most powerful film on transgender issues, I believe, is "You Don't
Know Dick."  In interviewing F-to-M transexuals and transgendered people,
the film goes much farther into the inner world of the subjects than the
much more popular "Paris Is Burning," a film that would be powerfully
contrasted with "You Don't Know Dick."

One suggestion for videos:  The Kids of Rockdale County.  It debunks the
myth that inner city minority kids are "promiscuous" ones since it documents
a syphilis epidemic among some affluent suburban kids who were engaging in
group sex among other things.

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