When I started interning for Melissa, I was most excited about the Subjectified discussion kit: a fun package containing a copy of the Subjectified DVD to watch together, a conversation guide to make a chat among your friends fun and free-flowing (even if you’re intimidated about broaching the topic of sex), as well as other goodies. Having moved to New York from Gainesville, FL, a town of 125,000 people, about 50,000 of which are college students, I had become accustomed to a liberal and local scene. Small businesses and porch talk move mountains in that town, and I was excited to get back to those ideals in a city which is notoriously daunting. I am thrilled to work on the distribution of a project that is so important, in a way that is so unique and potentially game-changing. The discussion kit gives girls and women, and anyone who supports free speech and open minds, the opportunity to learn more about the women around them and, especially, themselves. The discussion kit helps unpack some of the complex topics addressed with its hosting guide and interactive discussion activities, making the whole process inviting and entertaining, and allowing us the opportunity to continue telling our own stories.
I watched the documentary for the first time at home with my roommate. We had been discussing the topics alongside the women on the screen for nearly twenty minutes when my roommate asked, “Who are these women? Why should I care about their stories?” I think I only really realized in that moment that my roommate, like all of us at some point or other, expected to be entertained by outlandish stories from sensationalized caricatures, rather than the experiences of women we could have met on the street, or in class, or at work. These were stories we all have- our first kiss, the time we made a difficult decision about our bodies, and the partners we share them with. Sometimes the women seem totally typical, even mundane, and sometimes they strike you with an honesty that renders them completely unique. I realized then it wasn’t so much the particular stories themselves that struck me as important, as most of them were akin to conversations I’d had on porches with friends so many times before. They were important because they had finally been liberated from the gabbing of those porches. They are important in their own right, pillars of a history that incorporates and validates the experiences of women, one we will build for ourselves, which one day may very well overshadow the nameless banshees of mass media that at some point became the templates for our own self-images.
Rather than attempt to force a singular narrative on the depiction of female sexuality, the documentary dismantles the solitary and exclusive concept of a unified truth and lets each woman speak for herself.
And this discussion kit invites and encourages you to be just as candid about your own experiences. The guide helps facilitate open conversations about the topics touched on in the documentary: sex, in the broadest sense, encompassing personal experience as well as sex ed, health, identity, and upbringing. Sometimes it’s difficult enough being honest with yourself about your own conceptions of sex and sexuality, so that having honest conversations with others can seem impossible. Sometimes even knowing where to begin is too intimidating, stopping the conversation before it even starts. It’s one thing to joke about sex; it is quite another to talk openly about your own sexuality- but games make everything a little easier! We’ve put in countless hours to making a kit that can create valuable experiences for lots of different people: book clubs, parents, Sororities, and groups of high school friends, to name just a few. I hope you’ll check it out!