Super Secret Lesbian Message as Deciphered by a Dudebro

by Shaker BHAstronomer, who skates with Assassination City Derby in Mesquite, Texas, and sometimes codes to keep the wheels on her feet.

Whip It is a fun movie about all women being themselves, not what society tries to program them to be. However, Jeremy Clyman sees beyond its veneer, as he helpfully explains in his column, "Lesbian Fantasy, Disguised," published in repeat offender Psychology Today. His hypothesis is that in addition to the empowering message the movie "purports" to offer all women, it's also "a secret communication to closeted lesbians living in hostile places in which the closet is the only safe place to be."
I know what you're thinking. I, as a heterosexual man, am incapable of watching an exclusively female story without conflating its straightforward coming-of-age purpose with some sort of secret, subversive sexual agenda. Why can't I just appreciate this movie as the female version of adolescent identity growth and discovery? Why force meaning in-between the lines and covertly degrade this story as only interesting if satisfying some half-cocked interpretation? Well, my way means the movie is even more important and interesting, so if you're a feminist film critic you can just relax.
Oh. Okay then.

But let me back up for a moment and note that yeah, the movie does work as a metaphor for being empowered as a lesbian woman, or a trans woman, or a woman of color, or any other member of a marginalized female demographic. All of which the author conveniently ignores since they aren't TEH SEXY! And, worse yet, the "cues" he uses to unearth the lesbian themes are so not unique to lesbianism that he ends up reinforcing all the tired feminist = dyke narratives we're all painfully familiar with.

He assumes that heterosexual women are passive objects, so then of course a movie about kickass women who do their own thing (and men are just tangential, not essential) is going to be for lesbians. The FAIL of his Very Serious and Knows What's Really Going On article is rooted in his blindness of his male privilege. I feel bad for any of his future patients until he gets that fixed.

Let's begin with the massive fail so we can get it over sooner.
There isn't a serious male character to be seen.
OH NOES! A film about a woman, for women, directed by a woman! It's not like there have been a whole history of movies (like all of them) that lack serious female characters. Clearly, it's a secret lesbian conspiracy. Can anyone give this guy directions on how to pull his head out of his ass?
it still works on this level, and by functioning on this level it is serving a social purpose above and beyond the gender equality comment that women can make films too
And what great social purpose would that be? Continuing to center lesbian and bisexual women's sexuality around the male gaze? Oh and "women can make films too"? Gee, my little lady brain never realized that. If only there were actually women in Hollywood fighting to write and direct their own films. Oh wait, there are.
In short, this game is a metaphor for sex.
HUH?! What the hell!? He does know that there's more to sex than penetration, right?
The protagonist, Bliss (Page), behaves in the way that a lesbian might behave before she knows she's a lesbian.
Really? How might that be different from any not-lesbian teenage girl? And how the hell does the gender of people you're attracted to determine how you behave?
We meet her just as she's playfully dying her hair blue for a beauty pageant.
And this has any bearing on her sexuality how?
Her inexplicably love for roller derby is incited by the image of three women pushing each other on rollerblades.
He uses the word "inexplicable" for pretty much anything that doesn't fit in the traditional insecure masculinity/stereotypical femininity. I don't think that word means what he thinks it means. And that women could find fun and entertainment in being physical and rough? Oh, my delicate sensibilities, perish the thought.
She dumps her boyfriend with suspicious ease and celerity.
Women can dump their boyfriends and not be emotional wrecks, begging to be taken back? Women can decide to move on, and then actually move on? Sounds like women are no different than men when it comes to relationships. Who'd have thought of that?
She's an adolescent who likes to be different, is experimental and puts a boyfriend second to roller derby.
This is so made of fail, I've lost my grasp on the English language. 'Cause men are SOOO the center of non-lesbian women's lives, and if women can prioritize their own lives and interests above their man, then clearly they're lesbians. LOGIC FAIL!
A character named "Jaba the Slut" is definitely a lesbian. She winks at girls and offers them drinks and come-on lines. This is never made explicit, which signals to the audience that lesbianism is both present and not really present.
'Cause oh noes, women can't have a fluid sexuality wherein they're playful and funny, especially not derby girls. And of course her name's going to be "Jaba the Slut" cause it's common-to-idiots knowledge that only ugly fat women are lesbians cause they can't get a man. Yet didn't our plucky hero just dump a boyfriend? LOGIC FAIL 2.0!
men are metaphorically castrated while, simultaneously, lesbian sexuality is empowered.
Wow, I didn't realize that there was a scene where some guy got his metaphorical balls cut off. Talk about a bad framing of the issue. He takes it as a zero-sum game, when in fact when everybody's empowered, everybody's better off.
heterosexual castration takes place either through humor or implicit feminization of male characters.
There's more to masculinity than being a macho, insecure asshole. Clearly, this guys needs a clue. Or a metric fuckton of clues.
Although dad flirts with mom he clearly loves sports and beer more than sex. This is made conscious with a scene in which Bliss encounters her father's van in an abandoned, moonlit parking lot. All signs point to raunchy sex until she realizes that he's just watching the Texas Long Horns.
'Cause oh noes, a funny scene in a movie about women directed by a woman! And there are a lot of stereotypical macho insecure asshole guys who prioritize sports over sex with their spouse. Nothing new here, other than a clever framing to set up a joke. 'Cause women don't have senses of humor; it was clearly put there to emasculate him! Ugh, Freud would be so happy right now.
The boyfriend may be straight in the same way the Beatles were harmlessly straight, but his long hair, fondness for wrestling and effeminate smile, at the very least, sucks the testosterone out of the room.
Wow...really? I thought wrestling was supposed to be a macho sport and only tough guys did it. Clearly this guy is so stuck in his stereotypes and his complete lack of perspective and his mountainous male privilege that a straight guy couldn't possibly have a sweet smile, enjoy playing sports and like his hair long. 'Cause that's a guy who's too comfortable with who he is, he's clearly not insecure enough to be a Real ManTM.
The coach inexplicable wears tight jean shorts and inexplicably loves roller derby. He writes play books, pushes them in practice and cheerleads them during games.
Inexplicable = maybe just cause he likes it, and people as individuals don't have to explain their reasons to Mr. Too-Privileged-to-Get-That-He's-Not-Qualified-to-Do-This-Analysis. And *gasp* he's doing coaching things, 'cause he's their coach! He's supposed to treat them like crap cause that's what Real MenTM do. I don't think I can roll my eyes hard enough.
Then there is "Hot Tub" Johnny Rocket, the announcer. He is the epitome of over-sexualized, aggressive machismo. Lesbians fearing rejection hate what he epitomizes, and he is predictably and harshly torn down. He is laughed off when he wants to join the ladies in the hot tub; his appeals to the audience for dates seem unsuccessful, at best. The last name "Rocket" makes it more than obvious that he represents a penis, an impotent one.
'Cause treating assholes like the assholes they are is just a rejection of the Uberpenis and thus a celebration of lesbianism. Not a bunch of women *gasp* assuming they're real human beings with just as much right to demand respect as men are.
[F]emale sexual power takes over. This is most evident in the scene in which Smashley Simpson (Barrymore) wrestles her husband down to the ground from behind before riding him like a bronco. She even motions towards punching him in the balls. This is a rather obvious piece of symbolism about heterosexual power being tamed.
'Cause non-lesbian women couldn't possibly be playful and physical with the people they love. Non-lesbian women are pristine wallflowers who wouldn't rough-house or play around or get dirty.
Thus, we have a movie about roller derby but we also have a subtextual discussion about lesbian sexuality in a way that satisfies unmet lesbian needs without explicitly communicating to the public that this is happening.
'Cause he's clearly clued into what lesbians see and feel, since he's getting his degree in clinical psychology.
The misery of concealable stigma is addressed, the theme of sexuality is activated and the threat of heterosexual sexuality is diffused.
Heterosexuality is not a threat. Privileged heterosexual assholes who marginalize homosexuality are a threat. Bit of a difference. Projecting much?
And, oh yeah, it explains why Barrymore and Page are kissing in magazine shoots.
'Cause the co-opting of lesbian sexuality for male titillation couldn't possibly be responsible. Does this guy remember the Madonna/Brittney kiss? Has this guy not been to a party where girls are cajoled into making out by men for their pleasure?

So yeah, derby girl 20, insecure dudebro desperately trying to be relevant 0. Damn good jam. Go support those kickass women near you. Women's Flat Track Derby Association has a list of local leauges in your area. And hell, "Put some skates on. Be your own hero."

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