A WOMB OF THEIR OWN: 2018 MARDI GRAS FILM FESTIVAL

This year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival is well and truly under way and tickets are selling quick due to the incredible line-up. Our coverage this year was thrown into a hurricane of disorganisation because, while not complaining, my day job sent me off to Japan to cover the powder snowboarding in Hokkaido. Look – it was bloody marvellous but I am sad I missed most of the films to cover prior to the opening of the festival. I still have a couple to view today and am watching the two big films at the festival LOVE, SIMON and closing night film, FREAK SHOW. While both of these marvellous films are already sold out they should get cinematic release so PUT THEM ON YOUR WHITE BOARDS for MUST WATCH FILMS!!

If you are in Sydney (or Canberra) dear peeps, I urge you to check out the Mardi Gras Film Festival Website and grab yourself some tickets, the festival runs from February 17th to March 1st so plenty of movies to still catch. Sadly this fine documentary, A WOMB OF THEIR OWN has already screened. We were fortunate enough to get one of our oldest standing Salty Popcorn Kernels out of retirement and the literary world to review this one for us. Big thanks to Lady Morgan Bell for reviewing A WOMB OF THEIR OWN. It is for a 15+ audience and runs for 85mins. For post Mardi Gras screening opportunities I would hit up the peeps at Serious Play Films via Twitter.

 

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BY MORGAN BELL

 A WOMB OF THEIR OWN SYNOPSIS (OF SORTS):

Cast your mind back to 2007 when Thomas Beatie hit the headlines as the first pregnant man. The photos were everywhere. Even the most progressive and open-minded people were found scratching their heads for a minute and thinking: What is this? The media framed it as ‘a woman who has surgery to become a man but then still gets to be a woman’. But behind the outrage and indignation, there was just a person. A gentle loving person living their most authentic life.

Every once in a while, you come across one of those documentaries you wish everyone could watch. I would like to be heavy-handed and say, ‘everyone should watch’ but it’s not the kind of thing you want to make a chore of. It is something that will come to you in your own time when you are ready. When you are curious. When you are prepared.

 

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A NICHE OF A NICHE OF A NICHE IN QUEER CULTURE:

A WOMB OF THEIR OWN is a niche of a niche of a niche in queer culture. These are people with uteruses choosing to become pregnant when their gender identity is something other than feminine-presenting female. The candour and warmth in this series of interviews is incredible. Five ‘gender-complicated birth parents’ – including the film’s Director, Cyn Lubow – open up about realities, struggles, and joys of what they call ‘the bisexuality of gender.’

The film opens with Cyn Lubow, a grey-haired woman, gluing on artificial facial hair and explaining the strange position of never feeling like a woman but having a strong desire to give birth to children. Her own personal experience led her to seek out ‘masculine-of-centre female-bodied people who had the experience of pregnancy’. The brilliance of that terminology really struck me. Parenthood seems like an area of life that is inherently gendered, but in this documentary, we see many linguistic ways of prying apart gender identity from a biological process. The state of being pregnant and the organ of the uterus being being unhinged from the male/female and mother/father dichotomies.

Lubow has done an extraordinary job of finding endearing human faces to act of a range of representation on the issue. We hear from expecting couple Rae Goodman (bearded woman with PCOS) and Kerrick Lucker (queer trans-man), parent of a 16yo Lorenzo Ramirez (straight pretty boy trans-man), newly pregnant Morgan Weinert (genderqueer/weird fluctuating, formerly trans-man, current pronoun ‘they’), heavily pregnant Darcy Allder (trans-boi FtM) and his wife Heather (femme cis-woman), and parent of a 10yo AK Summers (butch woman). Lubow herself is the parent of a 17yo and a 20yo and describes her identity as ‘put on gender for the day’.

 

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GENDER TYPIING:

These people are incredibly insightful about how they fit into the world around them. From musings about how we automatically gender people because our brains like to categorise things, to the nitty gritty of views on breasts and penises, there is a lot to consider here. Each interview segment is introduced with a graphic word cloud of gender terms, overlaid with earthy strumming guitar music. Other than interviews there is a recurring simple stop-motion animation of a cardboard cut-out body with interchangeable gendered body parts, which assists in establishing the educational nature of the film.

Some of the groundbreaking ideas posited by interviewees include: People with uteruses get pregnant (not necessarily women); A lot of women don’t have beards, but some do, and most hide or shave them; Social conditioning has made us equate mothering with femininity; Rather than ‘mothers’ there are ‘pregnant people’; Skinny is masculine, more weight is more feminine; Masculine maternity clothes are difficult to find; Pregnancy visually erases queerness; Wearing a costume to be yourself; It is easier to say ‘I go by “he”’ at work then to say “I’m a guy”; Masculinity doesn’t equal being a man.

IN CONCLUSION:

I can’t recommend A WOMB OF THEIR OWN enough for expanding your understanding of diversity. Two things I found fascinating were how much the appeal of peeing standing up factored into the idealising of masculinity, and whether the pregnant people decided to be referred to as mum or dad in the long run. The film is also a comprehensive resource on what happens with hormones and crying, binders, genitalia sensitivity, top surgery and breastfeeding, partner attraction, and feelings of disgrace and deceit.

 

 

 

Kernel Morgan is an author of short fiction, an anthology editor, and a technical writer. Her debut collection was SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS. She enjoys scowling at children and bursting bubbles. She can be tweeted and stalked at @queenboxi.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.