Women Who Love Women by Lim Mayling

Woman Who Love Women is a `talking heads' style documentary on the lives of 3 women and how they cope with living life as a lesbian in Singapore. The film is as direct as simply having a conversation with each of them. And they have chosen Sabrina, Swee Jean and Amanda to be the subjects. Sabrina is the most masculine looking with nicely chiselled features and a neat crop. Swee Jean is what people may term an andro (in between kind of looks) and loves to wriggle her feet. Amanda seems to fall into the category of the femme lesbian, the more feminine type who could be mistaken for being straight.

But soon, I came to discover from the film, my ignorance because categorising like what I have just done actually takes one further away from understanding how a lesbian sees herself.
Panorama Crosstalk #2
Jeremy (J) : What is your take on lesbians?
Stefan (S) : Honestly speaking, as a straight guy, I cannot fathom why anyone would swing the same way, and while the documentary doesn't seem to answer many questions, it did shed some insights from a very personal point of view from the interviewee's perspective.
J : I didn't understand this stream of relationships at first, used to think they were mostly short haired and masculine.
S : Well, you know, this was one of the fastest selling movies at the SIFF, and the one with the most number of screenings - 5!
J : Think women want to hear about themsleves. Men want to hear about women.
S : Yeah, but there were more women than men in my screening.
J : Well, I correct myself, open minded, cosmopolitan, new age sensitive men.
S : But in today's context, you'll never know!
J : Okay, I was generalising, there were several boyfriends who were just accompanying straight girlfriends in the crowd.
S : Haha.

S : I've got a rant and an observation. First the rant: I was disturbed by the frequent cuts in order to make the dialogue sound more fluent, then later on, the fading technique was used to transition. I thought the cuts were somewhat excessive in the beginning
J : Well, I think the director went on a simple mission to just capture 3 points of view. And very often, interviewees, like Swee Jean, the `feet wriggler', will go on and on.

J : How did the docu change your perception of lesbians in Singapore?
S : That they have the same issues anyone in relationships will face, whatever the sexual orientation is.
J : I love u Stefan, will you stand for election? (thinking of Hillary Clinton)
S : (ignoring my comment) And of course being discriminated against, sometimes make things a lot more difficult to handle. I think it still boils down to common emotions anyone in the right frame of mind will be able to feel.
J : For me, many anecdotes were familiar, like coming out to parents, relatives and friends (yawn) The most interesting bits were when these lesbians were caught in situations when they had to be more female. Like in work and family occasions.
S : Oh I remember....
J : Wait. I was eyeing Sabrina's plucked eyebrows all the the time and the payoff finally came when she mentioned that there were days she had to put on a skirt jacket, heels and make-up! That was something to hear!
S : She looks tough!
J : 6 pack brother! S : I only have 1.
S : But back to my observation which I just have to get it out of the system.
J : Sure
S : I'm not aware whether it was intentional of the filmmakers not to feature the family members, given that their reaction is recounted by the interviewees themselves. They might have tried to get them to say something on screen, but were rejected. With friends it's always easier I guess. J : Ya true! If you were the filmmaker, apart from themselves, their family members, who else do you think they neglected asking? S : Their partners! Past and present. That would make a huge difference to the docu. Though it maybe hard to track them down now.
J : I am really impressed Stefan!
S : Why?
J : The day people want to know more about the love life of queer people instead of always wanting to hear sensational stories about the pain of coming out, means society has moved on!
S : You have a point there.
Toilet Break.

J : Do you think the 3 interviewees were well selected? In a sense that they portrayed vastly different prototypes and really opened up many avenues of understanding?
S : Well, they...
J : (interrupting) And did they leave an impression on you?
S : I thought they were representing different age groups, although Swee Jean is in her 20s, but recounting her coming out experience from her early teens
J : I really think Sabrina was necessary as the anchor and the main source of inspiration
S : Her account somehow lent weight to the other 2.
J : Ya. Actually, I felt Amanda's one was rather weak. S : Why so?
J : I still cannot really understand or get into her (oops! pardon the language)
S : But she did describe the labels! And how we should not pigeon-hole lesbians into types.J : That's true! And that's my fallacy! Oh Gosh!
S : And that provided me some insight too
J : And perhaps the reason why we should watch this film!

S : As a parting note, I would say not to be so fast to pass judgement on others who are different. We should be celebrating diversity, not discriminating against differences. Everyone has feelings, like it or not, and it's easy to hurt people without sometimes even knowing it, and it's easier to hurt when you don't seek to understand.
J : ..................... and world peace.

A second later, Jeremy regrets his lame joke.

For more information, contact Ngiam Su-lin Tel:+65 9747 2924


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