October 30th, 2005
In this documentary by Daniel Peddle, we’re taken through the NYC butch lesbian subculture through interviews with six different women. Each is different in their reasons for being how they are, each has a different lifestyle, but they all share the same indomitable attitude. How entertaining they are depends a lot on how interested you are in a bunch of bull dykes talking candidly about their lives. Not so much for me.
The film shows these women in a brutally honest way, not trying to portray them in a kinder light. Some of them deal drugs, one is in prison for part of her scenes, and most of them have disdainful attitudes toward other women (especially their girlfriends).
They all vehemently protest that they don’t act and dress like men because they want to be men; they do it because that’s what they want to do, what is most comfortable for them. You dress like a man, you talk like a man, you walk like a man; you're a duck.
Five of the six women are black, while the other is a Chinese woman who prefers to be with black women. The U.S. Department of Justice has issued figures that black men are six times more likely than white men to enter prison during their lives. Other similar statistics are just as bleak. You’d think there’d be enough black men selling drugs and going to prison, they don’t need women to dress up like men and do it too.
Come on ladies, you can do better.
Okay, I’ve got to curb myself before I get into a personal criticism of their lives, instead of the film. While the film focuses on these aggressive women, it doesn’t ignore the other women people in their lives; their mothers and girlfriends. Both mothers interviewed reluctantly accept their daughters’ lifestyles, but hope that it’s just a phase they’ll grow out of. Did Anne Heche really give parents everywhere this fleeting hope? I mean, people grow out of a hairstyle, out of a pair of jeans, out of peeing their bed; not so much their sexual orientation.
The only truly inspiring woman in this film is Kisha, a lovely Latina who works as a messenger when she’s not trying to succeed as a model. Kisha emanates strength and attitude, but isn’t afraid to also show her feminine side. While all the other women say they’re just being themselves, Kisha is the only one I actually believed. The others all seemed to be imitating men. You don’t need to pass for a man to be the one in control of the relationship, to be the one wearing the pants. Hell, I wear the pants in my relationship in a cute skirt and heels.
While “The Aggressives” is a unique film that documents a part of the lesbian culture most people are unaware of, it isn’t much more than that. Peddle doesn’t try to push any agendas, he presents these women for who they are, and lets them speak for themselves.
My rating: C+