Yesterday I offered to record video lectures related to my areas of expertise for y’all to use in your newly online classes.
Due to the volume of response I’ve decided to record a series of videos and put them on a soon-to-be-created abd2phd YouTube channel.
Each lecture will be stand alone–you won’t need any other material for context–but I’ll also structure them as a short series covering virginity in the contemporary United States.
My goal is to have a lecture out every day starting with a lecture tonight on virginity and patriarchy. I’ll also provide some discussion questions and open source articles for you.
HOWEVER. I’ve also been telling people about Kanopy. Kanopy is one of my favorite things. It’s a film database that most universities subscribe to. It has documentaries on *everything.*
If you’re teaching about gender and sexuality I have a couple of recommendations below:
The Purity Myth: The Virginity Movement’s War Against Women–Just shy of an hour long this is a great overview of virginity in US politics and life since the early 2000’s. It covers a lot of ground is narrated by Jessica Valenti who wrote the book the film is best on. My problem with the documentary is the same as my problem with the book. Women who choose to engage in purity culture aren’t dumb–purity culture fills a real need that they have and to portray it otherwise is, at best, problematic, which is why I often pair this with . . .
A Courtship–This is an in-depth, balanced look at an extreme version of purity culture. It does a great job of showing why people embrace this type of life. For people not familiar with Christian purity culture or thing that modesty culture is only an Islamic thing this documentary is a fucking trip. There’s a lot of subtle things that are easily missed. Watch it twice to catch more things to discuss with your students. In particular, watch for the signs of white-supremacy woven into this version of Christianity.
Virgin Tales: Evangelical Christians and Virginity–This documentary takes an in-depth look at the first-family of purity culture, the Wilsons. The Wilsons created the first, most well-known, purity ball in the United States. The documentary crew spent a year with the Wilson family so there is a lot of depth here. Things to watch out for in particular are the differences between the lives of the Wilson sons and daughters as well as father Randy Wilson’s full time job with the Family Research Council. This is a great one for discussing how purity culture isn’t just a choice individuals make it is something that is being actively pushed through political families like the Wilsons and the Duggars. SHAMELESS PLUG: You can check out my article about the Duggars and their political importance here.
How To Lose Your Virginity: Myths & Misogyny Around A Rite of Passage–A great look at the increasing cultural importance of virginity in US culture since the early 2000s. This really focus on the policy and federal spending around educating and enforcing virginity. It’s great to pair with Virgin Tales. Filmmaker Therese Shechter also created an online archive of virginity stories organized around unconventional markers such as “first time doing X” or “first same sex experience” and stories of deferring experiences. Together they provide a great new way to think about our sexual experiences.
Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm–Did you know that the vibrator was created as a medical device? Did you know it was seen as less sexual than the speculum? Women’s medical history is a fucking trip. This documentary digs into a fascinating medical history around hysteria and it’s treatment. There’s a narrative version of this history in the film Hysteria starring Maggie Gyllenhaal which you can sometimes find on YouTube.
We Were Here: The AIDS Years in San Fransisco–Do you want to cry? Do you want to fucking sob?! Well, get the tissues. An important documentary for all Americans. Perhaps particularly timely as some of our students are grappling with how the government can be mishandling an epidemic so badly.
Screaming Queens: The Riots at Compton’s Cafeteria–A few years before Stonewall drag queens rioted at Compton’s Cafeteria. Susan Stryker’s documentary interviews several of the people who were there and it does not go where you expect with some of the characters. A great documentary all around it can also be a good way to dig into how we categorize folks. For instance, several of the folks who were labeled as “drag queens” we would now call trans*.
This is a tiny, tiny, tiny representation of documentaries on Kanopy, but they are some of my favorites. It’s definitely the best teaching resource you may not have known you had!