Presenting to a group of Marriage and Family Therapists and students last Friday at the Austin Association of Marriage and Family Therapy monthly meeting, it struck me how we all…no matter our age, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or gender…are affected by our upbringing, especially pertaining to sex. We receive sexual messages through our parents, religious institutions, society trends, cultures, schools, regions and other communities. These messages can be both positive and negative. Some receive messages from parents that we can and want to talk about sex and your questions about sex. Others receive messages that “we can’t talk about it.” “It’s dirty.” “Just don’t do it.” Oftentimes girls become the “gatekeepers” and have come to believe that “boys can’t control themselves.” Those experiencing non-majority gender diversity or sexual orientation may feel threatened about being open and genuine in the world. These negative messages can lead to repressing sexuality and sexual expression. Instead of opening up healthy communication about sex, sex may go underground, and lead to secret acting out. Think about how you received messages about sex and what those messages are. Then share this with someone close to you, whom you trust. We can become more open as a community, one person at a time.
Written by and starring Amy Schumer, Trainwreck, is chocked full of hilarious sex scenes that reflect many of the issues my clients bring into their sessions. Two sisters grow up to become very different relationally after their parents’ divorce and father’s messages that “monogamy is not realistic.” Amy could be treated for an “intimacy disorder,” as she avoids becoming close to the men with whom she is sexual. Alcohol and sex serve to numb Amy out as she struggles with caring for her aging father, competition in her job as a magazine writer, and avoiding closeness and intimacy when she meets someone for whom she truly cares.
Trainwreck is fantastic at portraying a woman whose body is not the typical skinny sex pot, as attractive and sexual. Amy illustrates many traits I teach in therapy, such as, knowing what you want sexually, communicating what you want and giving feedback to your partner. She also says things like “everything important is at the top,” referring to her vulva (this may or not be true for you) and “try the alphabet technique” when receiving oral sex. (If you don’t know what this is, ask your sex therapist.) But she feels pressured when she meets a man she really cares for and begins to feel incapable of commitment.
Also, positively portrayed, are men very much in touch with their feelings, contrasting Amy’s emotional suppression. Amy Schumer debunks stereotypical gender norms with her female character who loves sex and male characters who express their feelings and want commitment.
This movie contains nudity and sexual content throughout. I do not recommend it for those in recovery for sex addiction, as it will likely be very triggering, with loads of casual sex and one night stands.
However the themes of developing intimacy, family relationships, career stress, and end of life, make this movie a much deeper experience than I expected.