Sweet Girl, Black Swan, Broken Body: sexuality, gender, eros, and body agony

*there are no specific spoilers here, but broader strokes of the film’s over arching storyline & despite some of my critique, I would highly recommend seeing it, it’s well done and rightfully provoking.

You are a coward!

This was more or less said by Tomas in regard to Nina’s unwillingness to confront her sexuality and eroticism in the film, Black Swan.

A man claiming cowardice on account of a woman’s refusal to feel erotic seems quite unjust, seeing that this is often, but not always, a man’s world where he has been given such liberty and tangible measures to explore, engage, and express his eroticism, to have sight of his externalized erected penis, and for these things deemed as a right/rite of passage–however implicit or explicit this is culturally stated. Whether or not this is a socialized or biological issue, a man is, though I’m open to expanding my thoughts, able to thrust himself into sexual being-ness far more acceptably and often easily than a woman.

However, this is not my main point for writing this, but merely to widen the frame of what Tomas said to Nina. The truth is, she is a coward. She does not know her body (her self), its impulses, responses, needs, desires and whenever something within her begs to be listened to she regularly externalizes it through inflicting pain onto herself or witnessing it in others. This ritual, to me, suffices as a means to kill off these uncontrollable things as she compulsively retreats to sleep, disgust, vomiting, or running to her overbearing and emotionally incestuous mother’s arms.

Another diverted point to highlight is her externalization of internal pain through the use of her body, which also seems “masculine” in nature–to relieve pressure, to bring distraction through paining or rather stroking the external parts of oneself. Might I add that this film was almost if not wholly created by men. I was not seeking this out, but after the ending I sat there cinematically traumatized and thus, watched as the credits starkly and contrastingly came and went on the screen: Darren Aronofsky (most acutely written on the screen), John McLaughlin, Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, Bradley Fischer, David Thwaites, et cetera et cetera. The primary roles in creating this film were men.

Mind you, this is not bad, but intriguing in how the vantage point of female sexuality was delineated. If I just reach into my vagina and permit feeling, catharsis, a moment of ecstasy then I will find my sexuality, my eros, my Black Swan. While I think it’s important for all human beings to be unafraid of their bodies and its strange parts as well as becoming familiar with and caring for them, I don’t fully believe masturbation and mindless experimentation with sex will engender a lively, lovely, full sexuality. Yet, this was what I saw on the grainy screen.

Her body, our bodies, become the grounds for which we express or repress our trauma, our sexuality, our femaleness or maleness, our needs, and our desires.

Whether we cut into our flesh, mindlessly caress or grope our and your genitalia, refuse food or beckon it from our stomachs with our fingers, or watch scenes that incur both guilt, shame, and deceptive pleasure–whether it is this or that, they are some of our strategies, however extreme or slight, to cowardly and understandably expel our awry sexuality, gender, and longings.

I feel depressed since watching the film and thinking about these issues. How many women’s bodies, including my own, have I wanted to weep over? How many times have I hated and raged at my body? How many men’s bodies have I wanted to hate and rage over? And, yet how many men’s bodies and stories have I also wanted to weep over? There are too many.

No matter how many times I would love to blame men or inflict pain onto myself through envying other women for all that is not right within me, I am faithfully left with myself.

I am faithfully left with myself.

And, this is a brilliant theme of the movie: only you can stand in the way…

So, what will we do when our bodies do things we don’t want to look at or feel? Or, what will we do when our bodies don’t do what we want, what we demand it to?

How will we arrive at a transcendent moment with our bodies and our creative processes that each of us bear?

Is that even the point? The film as well as a many others suggest seeking after a timeless moment of genius where all streams merge and pour into the Source, allowing a gust of glory, godliness, transcendence to be witnessed.

I believe passionately that these moments happen, have to happen for all of creation to witness God at play. I also believe there is something really good and insightful about the film’s storyline in which we must know, tap, and fall into our primitive, dark, and destructive inclinations–best understood through our sexuality in order to momentarily arrive at magnificence.

But, is this it?

To merely thrust your body into the dark, to let go and hope it thrusts you back into glory?

There are too many things I am wondering and curious about since writing this down. Artistically, therapeutically, ecclesially, Scripturally pondering how do I, we, engage our bodies and their complexities that allows for glory, pleasure, necessary madness, darkness, light, and liberty to occur? Wherefore, we do not hide or exploit; dumb down or become rigid; kill off or forget all; or make games of sadism and masochism. Can this happen?

I am hoping, with others, to find routes in bringing reverence, love, honesty, and robustness to our bodies.

To our breasts.

To our vaginas.

To our penises.

To our scrotums.

To our buttocks.

To our legs.

To our stomachs.

To our longings.

To our needs.

To our eros.




Filed under Anger, beauty, memento vivere, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Sweet Girl, Black Swan, Broken Body: sexuality, gender, eros, and body agony

  1. reeling, picking, shuddering, processing, scowling, enjoying…. this is me.

    your analysis helps a lot. xo.

  2. V Renee

    I came across this entry while looking for reviews of Black Swan. I love your insight.

  3. thanks V Renee, how kind of you to read my random posting on this…I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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