The Horror Honeys: Women Behaving Badly: True Gender Equality

Women Behaving Badly: True Gender Equality

A WiHM Revenge Honey Classic Review by Linnie

Baise-moi (2000)

"If you park in the projects, you empty your car because someone is going to break in. I leave nothing precious in my cunt for those jerks." 

It should be a well-known fact at this point that I have a very specific affinity for French horror films, especially when it comes to the revenge horror genre. There have been so many beautifully devastating French revenge films, from Irréversible to Martyrs, that much of my Top 20 list is dominated by the country. But one French revenge film, that completely side-steps emotion in favor of sheer unrelenting brutality, is Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi's Baise-moi. Translated as "Fuck Me," (and incorrectly translated by panicked theater-owners as "Rape Me), Baise-moi is the kind of film that would not only never be made in America, but it's also the kind of film that you're lucky if you can even find a copy of in the States.

Which is why, obviously, Baise-moi is one of my favorite revenge films ever and one of the most important movies you should see during Women in Horror Month.

The Story: Nadine and Manu are two women who have been driven to the fringes of French society by circumstance: Nadine by the death of her addict best friend/her own life as a prostitute, and Manu by poverty, violence, and the multiple rapes she has suffered by street thugs in her neighborhood. After a chance meeting at the train station, Nadine and Manu decide they've had more than enough of their lives spent in victimhood and decide to take to the road with nothing but their shared love of guns, money, sex, booze, narcotics, and violence. As their infamy grows, so does their bond. But how long can they avoid capture by the authorities?

From its opening moments, it is clear why Baise-moi went fairly unrecognized anywhere but its home country. Cast and created by adult film stars, Baise-moi doesn't remotely shy away from showing real, graphic sex. In fact, before it was rejected by the Ontario Film Board in Canada for being too violent, it was first rejected by the same board for being too pornographic. But, to get technical, the dictionary defines pornography as, "printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings." And much like John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus, nothing in Baise-moi is meant to stimulate sexual arousal. Instead, directors Despentes and Trinh Thi use stars Karen Lancaume and Raffaëla Anderson's bodies to show their control, and they use "fucking" to show just how in control Nadine and Manu really are when it comes to their own sexuality. These women as characters AND as human beings have refused to allow society to dictate what is right or proper for a woman to do when it comes to their personal sexual choices, and Baise-moi shows the duo using sex for manipulation, but also, for pure pleasure... something that only a few hundred years ago could land a woman in a sanitarium.

The violence in Baise-moi is also unflinching, with the women shooting, stomping, beating, and pistol-whipping anyone who gets in their way as they continue on their road trip of brutality. Critics and censors were horrified at the behavior of Nadine and Manu, while many ratings boards refused to rate it as anything less than excessively violent pornography. But, just for fun, let's peek at a little list I came up with:

Reservoir Dogs: Rated R
Goodfellas: Rated R
Scarface: Rated R
Hostel: Rated R
The Expendables: Rated R
300: Rated R

All of these films feature men doing despicable, cruel, and usually, unintelligible, things to each other, but almost none of them had the slightest bit of trouble getting theater-friendly ratings. In Reservoir Dogs, a police officer's ear is gleefully cut off to the sounds of classic rock. In Scarface, Pacino sucks so much cocaine up his schnozz, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford would be jealous. In The Expendables, a bunch of dudes collecting social security shoot anyone who looks at them awkwardly (probably because they're wondering why so many Republicans are aiming guns at them). But why is THAT okay? Because... dudes.

Yet the violence in Baise-moi was deemed dangerous to children, because... women. Almost no society has reached a point where it can handle the sight of sexually-independent, fed-up, immoral women killing men without the slightest bit of remorse. We can watch our women get brutally raped, beaten and abused by their spouses, significant others, and strangers, which can then justify any sort of resulting acts of violence. But when women like Nadine and Manu, or Juliette Lewis's Mallory in Natural Born Killers, kill for FUN in addition to righting the wrongs leveled against them by a fucked up society, as Heath Ledger's Joker would say, "everyone loses their minds." Because 2000, 2015, 1994... our world is one that refuses to accept women as anything less than victims, or victims in waiting. And this is unacceptable.

I can't entirely fault the country I grew up in for not having the same courage as the French to make films like Baise-moi. We're a young nation, we were founded by puritans, and like it or not, a shitload of those ideals refuse to let go. Movies like Baise-moi may never come out of America, but that doesn't mean they should stop being made by France, or Italy, or Sweden. We need genre films like this: not to prove that women can be as sexual or violent as men. But to prove that some of us ARE as sexual and violent as men. Some women just want to get fucked and leave without having a long conversation about it. A lot of women want to kick the shit out of the men who condescend to understand what we are going through on our worst day.

And there is not ONE woman out there, who when publicly catcalled with the phrase, “Wanna feel my balls slapping your ass?,” doesn't absolutely want to shoot that dude in the face. So before you dismiss Baise-moi based on the ignorant reviews of western critics, watch it through the eyes of a woman, desperate for a film that offers the truest of gender equality:

Men or women... all of us can be assholes.

Revenge Honey Rating: 5 Sex Club Massacres out of 5

Baise-moi is available as a special edition DVD via Arrow Video UK.
Add it to your collection!