She Gets to Have It

to-do-list2The slut always dies in horror movies. I mean, that’s just science, right? In fact, if you’re a woman in a movie, it’s probably best not to have sex at all, particularly for the first time.

Give it up to your boyfriend and Your Relationship Will Change, and probably not for the better. Do It with a guy you’re not in a relationship with, and expect to see your phone number on bathroom walls (or on whatever kids today use as their bathroom walls). Have sex, and any birth control you use will fail, your parents will be disappointed in you, and prom will be RUINED. Oh, and you’re certainly not allowed to like it. (You’re also not allowed to have your first time be with another girl. So many rules!)

None of those observations are anything new, but they did come in handy to fill up 140 words of this column, which essentially boils down to: “The To Do List,” out Friday, gleefully and effortlessly destroys nearly every trope pertaining to female sexuality in cinema; moreover, it takes the fetishization of virginity that pursues women throughout our culture and knocks that one down, too.

You’ve probably seen the trailers: Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) decides to have sex before the end of summer. To make sure she’s good at it, she comes up with a list of all the sexual activities she can think of (and some she has to look up) and methodically checks them off.

Obviously, a young woman out to have sex is an anomaly in movies. Plus, Brandy wants to be good at it — that’s really rare (though not unheard of; “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” has a very funny scene with Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh and some carrots).

The thing that struck me most about Brandy’s quest was that she never considered her journey from sexual naivete to experience as a reflection of her moral character. It’s the first movie I can remember where a woman who wants to have sex — and not just sex, but good sex that’s pleasurable for both her and her partner — doesn’t get punished with a broken condom or a broken heart. This film is a first that was worth waiting for.

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