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March 7, 2021

Should women be able to buy sex?

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The Byron Bay Film Festival is just around the corner, bringing another 10 fabulous days and nights of film from around the world to the Byron Shire in what has become Australia’s largest regional film festival.

One of the highlights this year is sure to be the world premiere screening of Brisbane director Sally McKenzie’s documentary, A Woman’s Deeper Journey Into Sex. The film stars such notables at Heidi Fleiss and porn star Jessie Jane, and it investigates contemporary sexuality, asking the question – why shouldn’t women be able to pay for sex?

The docu-fiction follows narrator private detective Lauren Lacey’s quest to determine if women need emotional connection for good sex. With a voice-over written in verse, the film weaves documentary with drama, animation with graphics, sexuality with sensibility!

‘The film started as a project about women paying for sex because men can, and in these days of equity I wanted to find out about what was happening with women. Can women distance themselves from sex the way men can? The film puts forward that romance dependency could be part of the conditioning that has been stopping women’s being powerful.’

In the film Madam Heidi Fleiss asks, ‘why not open up a place where women can hire men?’

Director Sally McKenzie agrees.

‘I believe that women should have the choice, as men do, to procure sex if they wish. It was difficult finding characters for the film. The subject matter broadened to include other aspects of female sexuality. I mined a narrative concept to bring together the eclectic footage shot for the film.’

‘I got lots of female “cougars” to talk to me (although I don’t like that word) and women who pay for sex in different ways – like women who go to Jamaica and shack up with a man for a while and then generously gift him when they leave. This is a highly constructed film. It wasn’t the classic “shoot the hell out of everything and put it together in the edit suite”. I had to

“construct” it. I still think, though, it’s just as honest as a so-called observational documentary. It’s just a different way of going about it.’

The film also explores the philosophy of female sexuality.

‘We have a conversation of the madonna/whore paradigm where men are celebrated for promiscuity and women are not.

Historically it was always thought that it was good for women to have a lot of sex, although I don’t go into the cultural specificity.’

McKenzie also investigates the emerging market of women porn users.

‘There is a market for online porn for women. And the film makes the point that if there are 300 million users of a particular site per day and one-third are women, then what is being explored and touched on?’

There has long been the assumption that pornography is aimed at men and suits their particular sexuality.

‘Some women do find it titillating and exciting. I have some young women in the film who talk about their porn-viewing habits, and some like to get things done quickly. Women are being able to distance things; it’s much more of a servicing and a wham bam I’m done and over it let’s got on with life.

I don’t know if it comes from a dissatisfaction; I think it comes from a convenience.’

Sally McKenzie’s A Woman’s Deeper Journey into Sex screens at the Byron Bay Film Festival on Sunday March 2 at 7pm at the Byron Community Centre, and a special repeat screening for International Women’s Day at Pighouse Flicks on Saturday March 8 at 8.30pm.

For ticket and program information go to bbff.com.au.

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