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Movie Screening: Privilege by Yvonne Rainer

The Movie, Privilege by Yvonne Rainer was screened on the 24th October 2020 at 5 PM to mark Menopause Awareness Month. The event saw an attendance of ten people and ended with a lively discussion on menopause, medical sexism, and patriarchal institutions, among other things.

What starts as a simple interview of women undergoing menopause slowly branched out to incorporate everyday struggles for rights among women, African Americans, Homosexuality, the aged, the disabled, and the poor. The interspersed clips leave the audience questioning the culturally/socially ingrained thought processes. Yvonne Rainer's work has been described as both 'boldly anarchic' and 'wickedly insightful.'

Another highlight of the narration is the interspersed black and white 'inspirational' monologues and dialogues by male doctors with specific views on women. Sometimes the screen blanks out to show provocative texts received by the maker in real life. One such text reads -

"There is a popular saying among gynecologists that there is no ovary so healthy it is not better removed, and no testes so diseased that they should not be left intact."

Some quotes directly resonate with the audience -

'I think you are confusing biology with Patriarchy, just because some men invoke our biology, doesn't mean you go along with them';

while others generate a feeling of disgust

'Menopause is like women's partial death' and even 'The gynecologists call it the living decay.'

The New Yorker, in 2017, reviewed the film and said - "Privilege starts as an apparently straightforward documentary, in which Rainer interviews middle-aged women about their experience of menopause. But Rainer soon gives herself an onscreen double, Yvonne Washington (played by Novella Nelson), and turns "Privilege" into a film-within-a-film made by her fictional counterpart. Rainer's movie is on the front lines of intersectionality (a term coined in 1989 by the legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw) in its connection of the struggles is also aesthetically intersectional in its fusion of cinematic styles".

Check out the Instagram post one of the audience members made about the screening.


Brody. R(2017, July 14). Yvonne Rainer’s Politics and Style. The New Yorker.

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