If you've been keeping score at home, you already know that honest depictions of female pleasure range from rare to nonexistent. The reality is, most writers and directors are straight males and because of that, we're often delivered flat portrayals that view female pleasure through an outsiders lens. The important work of directors like Ava DuVernay, Patti Jenkins and Karen Maine allows us to see ourselves, our experiences and our pleasure represented more accurately. In Maine's new short film, "Yes, God, Yes", we see a thoughtful and damn delightful portrait of fifteen-year-old Alice (played by Stranger Things' Natalia Dyer) as she comes into her own sexual awakening while surfing AOL chat rooms in the 90's.
We got a chance to chat with Karen about her film (she wrote, produced and directed it) so be sure to watch first then jump below for our interview (and a special request from us).
Unbound: Adolescent girls have been exploring masturbation since well, the first adolescent girl. Why did you decide on setting the film in the 90's?
KM: Definitely! I set the film in the late 90s because that's when I came of age and I really wanted the stage that the Internet was at at that point in time -- on the cusp of becoming something huge and expansive, but still quite new and contained -- to be a part of my protagonist's sexual discovery: there was enough on the Internet to entice and intrigue, but not enough for her to find other ways of thinking about sex than the one she's immersed in in her daily life: which is a strict Catholic upbringing in the Midwest. It'd be great though to see films about this topic set during all different times, for sure!
UN: Your last film dealt with abortion and your new one features masturbation. What draws you to such taboo or rarely depicted topics?
KM: Because they're real things that happen every day and their being taboo is just because our male-driven society can't deal with women making choices for their own bodies -- whether it's masturbating or choosing to have an abortion. Talking about these things, and showing them in film, is what will make them less taboo going forward, which has always been my ultimate goal.
Balancing religion and the path of self discovery is such a common (but private) theme for most. What influenced your decision to include that in the film?
KM: Well, I don't have a problem making my personal story concerning this public, especially if it will help other young women who are growing up in strict environments know that it's OK to explore your body and discover what you like. This story is such a universal one -- whether or not you were raised in a strict religious environment -- and I ultimately just wanted to help usher it into part of the conversation. Also, I think a lot of people don't realize how bewildering it is to come of age in these sorts of environments...
Is there a chance Yes, God, Yes will be a full length film someday?
KM: Yes! We're planning to shoot this fall with Natalia Dyer back in the lead role.
(biggest thanks to Karen for taking the time to talk to us and for making fearless movies.)
Wanna tell us about your sexual awakening !? Click here and share the moment it all started clicking for you.