11/05/2013 10:23 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Men Who Love Women Who Love Women


Freud was responsible for the term penis envy. But is there vagina envy--an emotion that some males might be prone to experience after watching the exuberant sexuality of a movie like Blue is the Warmest Color (La Vie d'Adele in its original French version)? For those who suffer from this affliction the question might then be asked, is a predilection a question of biology or an acquired characteristic, a taste that one develops? Can someone born with male gonads possess the sensibility of a lesbian? Is it possible to cultivate a taste for sexuality the way you would a certain kind of art, in this case by reading books like Djuna Barnes's Nightwood or seeing movies like Blue is the Warmest Color? And is the converse true? Some activists who fought hard for the notion that gayness was a matter of genes and biology might buckle at the notion that one is not necessarily gay or straight at birth. This is not to support the position of fundamentalist Christian deprogrammers who want to return gays to biblically modeled heterosexuality--which is just another side of the same absolutist coin (in both views sexuality is ideologized). Is sexuality perhaps more labile? Can one live a gay style of life at one point and then switch over and become a heterosexual as is the case with Chirlane McCray, the wife of the Bill de Blasio? The question of sexual identity brings up the classic dichotomies between nature versus nurture, between free will and determinism. It's understandable that those who have felt shame about their sexual inclinations or faced ostracism and disapproval about them would like to find an end to a painful struggle. Human beings like answers. They want to know and once they know who they are, they naturally want to join in and be with those who like them for it. Interestingly Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) the young protagonist of Blue if the Warmest Color seems the most uncomfortable in the scene where she had her lover, Emma (Lea Sedoux), attend a gay rights march. Another dichotomy that's brought up in the movie is that of existence versus essence. What if sexual identity is an existentialist choice rather than the reflection of predetermined essence? Wouldn't it be specious reasoning to conclude that there is some platonic ideal one must aspire to? What if men and women saw themselves as independent voters, who pulled the Republican lever in one election and the Democratic in the next. Dispensing with expensive and irreversible sex change operations, can't men who are enraptured by the sexuality of a movie like Blue is the Warmest Color undergo a change of consciousness in which they don't love like men who love women or men who love men, but like women who love other women?

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}