Video: Bringing up Dick and Jane
The video tape Dick Talk by X was shown “on request” at the Houston Center for Photography (May 23 – June 29) in conjunction with the exhibition Recoding Sexuality.
According to X (“a 44 year old video producer”) Dick Talk was made:
Because I could no longer stand the tension between what I said to myself about sex and what I said to others. The languages were so far apart that I had to deny myself the expression of ideas, feelings, questions, observations, and most of all, laughs, about an inwardly luscious and agreeable life. I could share other experiences: why not sexuality? I was sure other women felt the same way. I am sure men do too.
So I rounded up some good talkers, women who knew what they knew about themselves and what they didn’t. I promised them and myself anonymity because I didn’t want to hurt family members and friends who would not approve of such alk. And, none of us is independently wealthy.
I asked three women to shoot, light and do the audio on Dick Talk believing we could talk more freely away from a male audience. The crew wanted to be credited.
The best part of Dick Talk is tat I finally got to talk “Dick.”
The following critique of Dick Talk was done by four women, a freelance critic and three Houston based artists, who also wish to remain anonymous.
The Houston Center for Photography will forward requests for information on Dick Talk to the produced, X.
Look and see.
Oh, oh, oh.
Look and see.
A: There are much more rigid than what they are saying.
B: Yes, they are being real careful with what they are saying, they are holding their hands all together, their legs are crossed.
C: Do you think that they are uncomfortable?
B: Sure, wouldn’t you be?
D: Let’s see how they are at the end.
E: It reminds me of the Saturday Nigh Live slumber party, where they had their hair up in curlers and talking – it was absolutely hilarious.
D: Because it was so familiar – they were like six in bed together and one would say “do you know what they do?...” They would open their mouths and pssst, psssst, psssst whispr – then say “oh, my gosh, my mother would never do that! Neither did my father…” and then everyone would laugh.
A: I would go through my dad’s drawer with his handkerchiefs and the smell of hair tonic thinking I would find something about the other sex – but I never got the details from reading a book – there was an aura of mystery. It’s like art is today – where are the men hiding? They are always the viewer – all the information we have about the nude and everything comes from the man – but we never see him – that really disturbs me.
E: I wonder why they didn’t invite a man to this?
A: Maybe we should have a man here with us.
B: I think we should do this two times – once with us – then another time with some guys here.
D: But I think that’s what they want to do with Dick Talk and have the sequel with men talking
Come Dick. Come and see. Come, Come. Come and see Spot.
A: I saw this tape the opening night at HCP in that side room and all the men were just squirming – so uncomfortable – and the women were cackling.
C: I don’t think the video director knew how it would turn out.
A: Oh, I think she did.
E: What do you think she really wanted?
D: I think it’s an answer or take-off on men’s locker room conversations – as a jibe.
A: Yes, now all of a sudden we are women, the viewer of all this – and this is our turn to participate.
C: But do you think they know each other – as men would – and feel comfortable about all this?
B: I think they know each other – but not as best of friends type thing – they’d be behaving differently.
A: I see two of them being very competitive – about one-upping the other and the other two much more laid back – really getting into what is being said rather than the one-upmanship.
D: I think it is their personalities.
A: That’s what surprises me about this tape – that I don’t think of women getting together for one-upmanship.
B: Oh, yeah, it’s more “oh, wow, tell me more” as an intrigue rather than – well, I did it better than you.
C: I don’t think of women getting envious – like men do.
B: Sure, you wished it happened to you, or wish that some day it may happen to you but you don’t try to be better than someone else.
Go up, Tim. Go up. Go up, up, up.
A: Here they are showing pictures from Playboy and it always shows lots of hair – and it’s so funny ‘cause all the pictures and diagrams that I ever saw were pink and hairless – and I was so shocked to see hair.
B: “He.” “It” – it’s like a third person they are referring to.
A: We are always in control and don’t have to make any excuses that “it has a mind of its own.”
Go down, Tim. Go down. Go down, down, down.
B: Do you notice how girls talk about the sensation of the water or the grass or being behind a big bush…
D: The whole context of the way women perceive is different – the sensuality if the feel, the smell of a guy’s hair, his eyes – and yet I hear that men get turned on most by a woman who is half covered.
C: They say that’s why “totally nude” girlie shows aren’t half as successful as the strip tease idea of G-strings or pasties.
A: That’s funny ‘cause here they are zeroing in on one part of a man’s body – just like men do – instead of talking about the body, the hair, the smell, the shape, the shadows – all that sensuality.
B: And they are talking like the men do – they are right into the same thing and it’s not very sensual.
A: And the one in the striped blouse is so concerned about how good she is in bed – that she’s not into the discussion – she’s so worried about “am I good.”
B: I think she has a male point of view – and here she is painting her nails.
C: I’ve never been around a group of women where one woman pulls out some nail polish and starts retouching up their nails – kind of strange, no?
A: She is truly representing the stereotype of what we see in girlie magazines.
D: With no style or glamour really.
D: Whereas the two women who aren’t quite as young or whatever, don’t seem to be into the image of what men think as sexuality – like the woman in the beige suit is much more intellectual about it.
A: And that other one is preening like a bird – stroking her nails – have you ever seen anyone put polish on like that?
C: The slang they use – it’s a man’s vocabulary – like right our of some porno magazine.
D: It’s like she has gotten all her information from that kind of magazine and she’s just spilling back what she’s picked up along the way.
A: But the first time I saw the tape – I giggled and delighted that women could get together and talk like that – and now to see it again I guess I’m getting more critical of it – I don’t care for the things “nail polish” is saying.
B: Perhaps a part of the funniness of seeing it for the first time was the nervousness attached to it – what they were going to say – what they were going to do – the anticipation factor – but I remember the woman I really related to was the woman in the blue dress – when she would say certain things I wanted to know who she was.
C: And she’s the one with the least Playboy body.
B: You know, I’m disturbed at the title “Dick Talk” – if I were talking about sex with women, I wouldn’t say “dick” – ‘cause I don’t think women talking about men talk about “dicks” first.
D: But maybe that’s not fair, because I think this is a jarring takeoff on locker room talk – and that women were directed towards talking about “dicks.”
A: But it’s not – this is almost condoning it – that women should talk this way too.
D: Instead of doing it in an ironically, funny, bitter way – it’s a mimic of them – very unconscious.
A: I think so too – I think that we are so well programmed, that we heave learned these things so well, that it is just flowing forth.
C: But have you ever been around a bunch of girls talking like this? I haven’t.
D: Me either, except I do have a couple of friends who talk about it all the time, but they are the only ones I know – and they are always talking about sizes – and I’m kind of shocked to hear them.
A: I don’t think it’s unnatural for girls to talk to each other about sex – but I do find it’s unnatural for them to talk about it in terms of the stereotype – they haven’t gotten down to anything original – in fact, I’ve been wondering myself through all of this if I have anything original to say about penises and I though you need to watch this again and listen, then say what you really feel – this all seems like Playboy – they haven’t said anything original – they are programmed in.
D: It’s all clichés.
A: This is a Freudian thing, going back to our fathers and how we so strongly associate with them – and everything – our first experiences like the Playboy magazines and me with my father’s handkerchiefs all started with our fathers like I loved the smell of my father’s pillow.
Look up, Baby. Look up and see Dick. See Dick go up, up, up.
D: And my father with his pipe, the smell of tobacco.
B: Even today I had to make a phone call from a public phone booth and the cigarette smell of the open phone booth was very sexual – like a man had been there before me – that pervasive thing – and I felt very sexual with that beautiful smell – I stood there in the phone booth and thought “ooooh…”
D: I think another point is that sexuality is not just men…
B: Yeah, and here they are equating sex with a “dick” – you don’t have to have one – we don’t have one…
A: And what you are saying that sexuality has to do with is being very safe – in a home or enclosed in a phone booth – not alienated – that you can be who you are.
B: Here, the penis seems to be alienating him somewhere.
D: Like he is somewhere else and hasn’t even shown up yet – like a third person – it’s “it”, then it’s him.
B: Like the one woman who wondered who he was – never first thinking about how big or how little his penis was – or shocked if it’s really little of if it’s really big – I’d like to think about the whole person.
D: There are compensations.
A: We are watching a beauty pageant about penises.
B: Well said, we really are – and we know about them.
C: Yep, they are sponsored too – maybe by the Dick Clark Bandstand with the top 40 hits.
A: But look a that woman – she’s been kind of put down as being the mother…
B: She’s past the age of Playboy.
A: Instead it would be very interesting for me to hear them talk about what they feel like.
B: Instead of the physical size – about the human being.
A: The image at what we are looking at doesn’t at all mean what we are about being artists – it’s not the object that is there – it’s the aura that surrounds.
B: It’s about your partner, about letting your mind be gone and have your own images that can be taken up in.
C: And yet, they have translated these images into something specific – there isn’t any daydreaming about this.
B: But that is what good sex is – a reverie, a meander.
C: Like waking up in he morning and you are half here and half there.
B: It’s a wandering – not preprogrammed.
C: The one woman is contradicting everything the others have said – she’s into nature and the natural discovery – and the others are into the vocabulary of what they have read – I wonder how these people were chosen – they certainly aren’t the closest of friends.
D: But I think that they are acquaintances that have consented to talk about this – that don’t have a fear of being found out – I wonder if they are all married…
C: They are backtracking, rehashing – don’t you think a greater discussion would have taken place with a nun and a Chinese lady and a Black lady and city girl and a country girl or from some African tribe – different cultures instead of so similar.
B: But in a way, this is an affirmation of what we all are thinking similarly.
A: But this was boring to me because the just touched on it – there was no depth, and they had a whole hour tape to do it in – but they didn’t – they mentioned things and kept on mentioning.
B: The whole thing was that the woman in the blue dress and the woman in the white shirt when they would start in on something and what they diffused – the others won’t take up on it and go on – there wasn’t any crossfire.
A: Somehow the others kept changing the subject – getting back to the size or the specifics – while the other two were trying to enlarge or expand upon something and be more thoughtful about it away from statistics.
D: Or maybe a certain amount of disillusionment that comes with time and broken relationships and mistaken judgments and so on that becomes frightening – it could have been wonderful to have wandered into a different sociologic group and ask them to give you 30 minutes to talk about sex and men and how you feel about yourself – and go on to another and another and another group.
C: Bu this served as an ice breaker – I mean I’ve never seen anything like this – I may really be out of it – but for me it serves as an introduction – a spurring on – I mean we have come together because of it.
A: Right, the first time I saw this, I cam e out and said “wow” this is alright and it got me talking with my friends about it.
B: I may not feel quite the same about it, but I couldn’t wait to talk to some really close friends – it was nice to know that some women were doing it.
Oh, Mother. Oh, Father. See Dick. See Dick play.
C: What did you think guys would say about this (tape) – we’ve said that the American guys who saw it felt squeamish – I wonder what European guys would think – maybe they wouldn’t have to prove anything.
D: I don’t think that they (European guys) are that much more secure.
B: Maybe stylistically different.
A: But across the line, I don’t think they are different – black, white, European.
C: I think so – it’s cultural heritage – like how we speak of Italian men.
A: But when it comes down to the actual interaction between that man and that woman, I don’t think it’s much different in any culture,
D: I don’t think any man likes to hear women talking about them or that are comfortable with any kind of explosive sexual coverage – nude photos or whatever – if the roles were reversed in movies, whew.
A: In the history of art, it’s always been the man as voyeur, whether it be painter of photographer of nudes – take any situation where there is a nude woman and imagine that as a nude man – and we – I can’t image men being coy or presenting themselves to us that way – some photographers have tried to dispel that myth – like when they are photography, they are totally nude themselves – although I do think there was some sexuality involved – some sexual interaction in itself – but that I am not any more than a voyeur than she is – and there is an attempt at some kind of mutual exchange.
Oh, Mother. Oh, Father. See Dick. See Dick play.
D: These women are talking about being voyeurs themselves – like the woman talking about when she was give and the thing that turned her on was watching some little boy playing with himself – isn’t that some kind of voyeurism for a kid that age?
C: No, I think it is more a fascination.
B: Then it goes underground and is snuffed out of us as bad.
C: Do you think this set out to accomplish what it was supposed to accomplish? Or was it a fluke to see what would happen if you got five women together with one topic and a video camera? Or were they prepped about what to talk about beforehand?
B: They laughed a lot in the beginning but they didn’t seem to laugh as much as it progressed or at the end.
A: No, I think it got competitive – or did the director make them talk about “dicks” which they wouldn’t have talked about otherwise – are these voices of individuality?
C: I don’t think they knew what they were getting into.
B: In the end they were very revealing of themselves as human beings – just by their attitudes and demeanor.
D: The one in the blue dress was so sensitive about the things she said – that she had experienced it herself without being taught.
B: The one in the blue stripes was trying so hard – but still a kid about what she hadn’t gotten.
A: And that guys should be thankful for what she had taught them.
B: For me what they have done is like chapter one – finding out about one another and what was comfort or discomfort – like an experiment that needed to be carried our over time.
C: But I have a feeling that they couldn’t go on – that two had outdone each other and the two sensitive ones had been left with dead ends – that nothing was engendered – like !!! Instead of ….
D: Too bad they didn’t pick up on the two sensitive women and go on.
A: But I do think something was accomplished just by doing it – and that we can sit here and talk about penises whereas in our parents generation it was unheard of – and here I sit wondering if I should tell my daughter what we’ve been talking about – I mean I almost thought about bringing her here to discuss it with us.
B: It’s like how to we present this to our children?
A: In a way, the tape diminishes an uncontrollable bias about presenting this – because before I didn’t know five women I could sit down with and talk like this – but this has broken the ice for me – and that is a good feeling.
C: Actually I feel very comfortable now just talking about things and it was kind of exciting to find that there were all of us who were going to get together and discuss things rather openly.
B: But why did we feel that way at first and now the excitement has dissipated?
C: Maybe, it’s like seeing Psycho over again – watching Bates turn the skeleton around again didn’t have the jittery impact of the first time.
D: Maybe, the impact of this film is to show that it can be done.
B: It’s like ok – and I think that was HCP’s excitement – like it’s OK to show this there – it’s OK to talk about it here.
A: It became legitimate.
C: And not raunchy or perverse to talk about it in a public space – and yet the vocabulary was what you would find in a porno book.
Dick is big. Baby is not big. Baby is little. Big, big Dick. Funny little Baby.
B: Yet what I find out of all this is that women don’t have a vocabulary which is feminine – cunt, puss, dick, prick, etc. – sounds so awful.
C: But what words are there?
D: What words aren’t degrading to us? Vagina is horrible too – and dull.
B: Cunt used to be a magical word for a witch – from cuntis meaning healer or wise woman – but it has come down so twisted and bad.
A: It’s even the root of cuniform – wise writing.
B: I have an idea – we should band together as women – and send a letter to Dr. Suess and have him invent a vocabulary for us. Even though he is a man and he is in his 80s – he has created such wonderful images and words for children on our terms – that if anyone, who exists today, he should be able to create an exciting vocabulary for good women, and potent women, and wise women instead of this worst sort of stuff that we have to deal with today.
Come away, Spot. Come away.
Dick and Jane can not play.
Dick can not get up.
Jane can not come down.
Some away, Spot. Come away.