#FemalePleasure – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Swiss filmmaker Barbara Miller’s globe-spanning documentary #FemalePleasure will give pleasure to any woman who has ever been made to feel ashamed for being a sexual being or has experienced physical and mental abuse by males without them facing any repercussions. One of Miller’s film’s main targets is the oppressive patriarchal aspects of religions around the world. You might think learning that almost every culture treats women as second-class citizens, if that, with little say in their own destinies might be somewhat of a downer.

But Miller instead chooses to celebrate five brave and distinctly different women and highlight how their efforts are inspiring others to fight against centuries of such archaic repressive traditions as arranged marriages in Hasidic culture in Brooklyn and the continued horrific custom of female genital mutilation in Africa. We also hear from a former Bavarian nun turned scholar who was repeatedly raped by a male clergyman and whose accounts of the crimes were ignored by the Church and a Delhi woman who started a sex education website to counteract the rape culture in India.

However, my favorite is a whimsical Japanese magna artist who decides to not just employ an image of her own vagina in her drawings as a character, but also makes a mold of it and turns it into a kayak and incorporates the image into dioramas. While the artist Rokudenashiko is arrested for obscenity, Miller underlines the silliness of it all by including footage of a parade in Japan with a float featuring a huge black phallic statue as young girls who are bystanders suck on penis-shaped popsicles.

EDITOR’S NOTE: #FemalePleasure is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for October 18, 2019

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a senior editor for the online awards site Gold Derby. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.