Mar 26

“Kissing Jessica Stein”: A Film That Depicts Sexual Fluidity

One film I can recommend that depicts themes regarding sexual fluidity (see yesterday’s post on this topic) is romantic comedy Kissing Jessica Stein (2001). As aptly described by IMDB: “A woman searching for the perfect man instead discovers the perfect woman.”

Although neither has been sexually involved with a woman previously, Helen (Heather Juergensen) identifies as bisexual and is the more adventurous one, while the previously “straight” Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt) faces more challenges as their relationship progresses.

You might think therapy would help Jessica—but here’s a salient and telling snippet related to her use of it:

Helen: What does your therapist say about all of this?

Jessica: Oh, I could never tell my therapist.

Helen: Why not?

Jessica: Because it’s private.

Watch the Kissing Jessica Stein trailer below:

A significant snag along the way for Jessica is her fear of telling her mom (Tovah Feldshuh) whom it is that she’s dating. One of the highlights of the movie, actually, is the kind of surprising way her mom does deal with it.

One of the lowlights (in terms of emotional response) for many is the realization by Helen that the relationship comes to mean different things to each of the two women. After Ellen reviewer Sarah Warn posits that viewers who accept sexual fluidity as a valid phenomenon will perceive this turning point differently than others.

From Wikipedia: “In the book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and DesireLisa M. Diamond cites the film as a notable example of female sexual fluidity in popular culture, writing that it “depicts a lesbian becoming involved with a man, contrary to the more widespread depictions of heterosexual women becoming involved in same-sex relationships’.”

On the other hand, not everyone can tolerate the fluidity. As one of the film’s creators, Heather Juergensen, has stated (Women’s ENews), “On the extreme right and the extreme left there seems to be kind of a ‘gay means this and straight means this,’” Juergensen says. “There’s less of an acceptance of fluidity certainly and even just exploring. It might be that the questioning aspect of that community is the ‘new gay,’ if you will–the new oppressed sub-segment.”