Filmmakers Bring UMass Professor's Book about Young Women and Sexuality to Screen

Young woman pondering mixed messages about women's sexuality.
Monday, October 15, 2012

"Flirting with Danger," a powerful new documentary film adaptation of the book by Lynn Phillips, lecturer and chief undergraduate advisor (communication), examining how young women navigate their relationships and hookups, will screen at a special event at Amherst Cinema on Sunday, October 21, at 11 a.m. Produced by the Northampton-based Media Education Foundation (MEF), the film examines how mixed messages about women’s sexuality affect young women’s relationships with men.

“The film doesn’t go for easy answers,” says MEF Executive Director Sut Jhally, also a professor of communication, who co-directed the film. “It underscores the ambivalence young women often feel in their relationships. And it explores the contradictory currents they have to navigate in the wider culture, especially societal definitions of good girls and bad girls, or virgins and ‘sluts.’”

Phillips, a social and developmental psychologist, drew on extensive interviews with young women for her book. The film uses actresses from throughout the region, including a number from Smith College, to bring these interviews to life.

“I was so moved by these talented actors’ care and respect as they brought women’s complex, and often painful, stories to life,” Phillips says. “My deep wish is for this film to spark more nuanced discussions about consent and coercion, and the screening is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. I live and teach here in Amherst, so I’m very excited that the film is premiering in the Pioneer Valley, where both MEF and I are rooted.”

Following the screening, Phillips and Jhally will be on hand for a Q & A. The event is free and open to the public.

For a 3-minute trailer, click here.