Friday, July 16, 2010

Intersex Is Entertaining!: Juno

"Intersex Is Entertaining!" is going to a semi-regular segment where I can post about mentionings in the entertainment industry that serves to further stigmatize, fetishize, freak-ify, etc. intersex folks. If I find any *positive* depictions of intersex individuals in the entertainment industry, then I'll have to think up a name for a new segment, since this cheeky one wouldn't do.

I was violently ill yesterday (wah, wah, waaaaaah.) In between bouts of my vomit-a-thon (TMI?), I watched Juno since it was on my friend's computer and it was there. Sometimes painfully twee dialogue aside, I remembered really enjoying the film, so I was pretty excited to watch it. I got what I came for, and ended up enjoying the majority of it. (Even if the dialogue was even MORE twee than I remembered - !)

I caught something this time around that I didn't the first time I watched it. Check out this bit, when Juno is talking to potential-adoptive-parent-of-her-child, Mark:

Mark: "Wow, can you tell if it's a boy or a girl?"
Juno: "Um, I can't, the doctor can. But, I kind of want it to be a surprise."
Mark: "Well, it can only go one of two ways."
Juno: "That's what you think. I mean, I drink tons of booze, so you might end up with one of those scary neuter babies that's born without junk."
Mark: "Junk, huh?"
Juno: "Yeah, you know, its parts."
Mark: "I know what junk is."
Juno: "Yeah, right."
Mark: "We definitely want it to have some junk. Please."

My mouth dropped open slightly and I played the scene again to make sure I'd heard correctly, because there were a bunch of fucked up things in there.

Now, I admittedly don't know a lot about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) (i.e., "I mean, I drink tons of booze..."), so I did some Google research to learn a bit more. Do infants born with FAS completely lack genitals (i.e., "...babies [that are] born without junk...")in some cases? Not that I have found so far. Some individuals born with FAS may have "incomplete development of genitalia" or so-called "gential defects," but what does this really mean? I couldn't find any more specific information that this doing a preliminary search, but there's no explicit mention of individuals being born without genitalia.

What I immediately thought of when I replayed the scene and listened in was MRKH. MRKH stands for the names of the medical doctors (Mayer, Rokitansky, Kuster, and Hauser) who described "...the congenital absence of the vagina, fallopian [sic] tubes, cervix, and uterus." If you'd like more information on MRKH, visit MRKH Organization, Inc., and check out common physical traits (I refuse to say "symptoms") associated with it. MRKH doesn't completely fit Juno's no-junk standard, since individuals with MRKH do possess external genitalia that exhibit typical form.

My next thought was Aphallia, where individuals are born without penises and urethral openings, although they possess scrota and other sex organs indicative of "typical male anatomy." (I don't like that ISNA uses "patient," and not "individual" in their definition, though.)

Whether Juno is actually referring to individuals' "genital defects" from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, individuals with MRKH, or individulas with Aphallia, calling individuals neuter children is incredibly offensive. Diablo Cody, the screenwriter for Juno really needs to re-examine whether one's genital form means that they don't have any sex at all, and whether it's okay for individuals to both joke about those freaks with the fucked-up genitals and assume that they have the right to choose how these individuals identify. And, once again, this comment essentializes individuals' sex to their genital form, even though we know that biological sex is much more complex than that.

Moreover, no - sex doesn't "...go only one of two ways." That simply isn't true, and not accepting this fact legitimizes the marginalization of intersex individuals. Nice.

If you want to contact Diablo Cody on her problematic views, you can try contacting her representative (agent?) at WhoRepresents?.com. Unfortuantely, you have to pay a fee for it, which is why I'm not just posting the contact info here for you, since I don't have it, and it's not available by doing simple web searches. (I tried, Dear Readers. I really did.) Too bad we can't use our hamburger phones to contact Cody directly, huh?

"Heeeeeeey, Cody. I'll give you ten tons of Sunny D if you don't misrepresent individuals with atypical genital morphology as yucky monsters in your future screenplays, okay?"

Just sayin'.

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