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The MPAA, or the Motion Picture Association of America, is an association that represents six of the major Hollywood Studios. The MPAA is a board of ten to thirteen “average” American parents who are supposed to be representations of the majority of parents in the United States. The requirements for the board are having children between the ages of five and seventeen; two of the board members are required to be of a Catholic or Protestant faith. The board also has to rotate every five years. The MPAA devises guidelines for movies and films while also rating them. The MPAA has its own film rating system to determine what is suitable for certain audiences to watch. The ratings go from G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17. Movies rated G mean that they are suitable for the general audience. PG movies are movies that need parental guidance. PG-13 means you need parental guidance up until the age of thirteen. Movies rated R do not admit anyone under the age of seventeen to watch it without a parent or guardian present. NC-17 movies do not allow anyone seventeen or under to watch at all because the MPAA has deemed the movie obscene or pornographic. An NC-17 rating is sometimes referred to as the death sentence because most theaters won’t play movies above an R rating. Its film rating system is highly arbitrary and laden with blatant sexism. The MPAA’s willingness to rate films and movies that show violence and torture lower than ones that show a woman being pleasured is nothing but misogyny. In 2010 the MPAA rated the movie Blue Valentine, a movie starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, an NC-17 rating. Why was it rated this way? Was there extreme violence? Decapitation, maybe? No, the reason the MPAA rated Blue Valentine the way it did was for a scene in which Michelle Williams’ character is receiving oral sex from her boyfriend. The MPAA stated that this scene would make audiences “uncomfortable”. This would not be the first time the MPAA has shown its dubious moral standings when rating films. Another movie, Afternoon Delight, was rated an NC-17, for guess what? A woman receiving oral sex from another woman. Not too soon before this movie, the MPAA rated The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. This movie has a very graphic rape scene involving the main character, Lisbeth Salander, and many other instances of sexual violence. Along with sexual violence, this movie shows Lisbeth getting revenge on her rapist with her own specific form of violence. This movie, which is objectively more violent and contains much more mature content, was rated only an R. This goes to prove that the MPAA is more comfortable with graphic violence than scenes of women receiving pleasure. The director and writer of Afternoon Delight, Jill Soloway, had a lot to say about the MPAA’s rating. Afternoon Delight came out right around the time The Wolf of Wall Street hit the theaters. The Wolf of Wall Street, within the first fifteen minutes, has countless instances of swearing and usage of the words “cock” and “cunt” in a highly derogatory manner. Also within the first fifteen minutes it will show a man receiving oral sex from a woman while another man penetrates the woman from behind. That’s not even to mention the full frontal female nudity and countless cases of misogyny throughout the rest of the movie. The MPAA deemed this movie suitable for only an R rating. According to the MPAA, Afternoon Delight was “too sexually intense” while apparently The Wolf of Wall Street is completely acceptable. Soloway had sensed a theme in the scenes that the MPAA wanted her to cut from her movie so it could receive and R rating:
I think it’s about the sexual agency of female characters. The scene portrays dtwo women in a sexual situation connecting emotionally with one another. That might be what was “uncomfortable” for the MPAA. It’s infuriating, to encounter this editing-down after pushing through the many doors to get this movie made. I even won the Directing Award at Sundance, but that kind of lauding didn’t protect me from this organization’s opinion that sex from a woman’s perspective is somehow too dangerous. (Ghahremani, T. "Evan Rachel Wood Calls MPAA Sexist For Censoring Oral Sex Scene in "Charlie Countryman".")
The problem here is how a woman receiving pleasure is somehow too “bad” to put in a movie. That a woman receiving oral sex makes people more uncomfortable than seeing a man receiving oral sex while the woman performing it is being penetrated from behind by another male. Somehow that is less intense and less sexual than two women performing consensual sexual acts upon each other. Sexual violence against women is more likely to be found in a rated R movie than a woman experiencing an orgasm. The MPAA allows men to have their faces filmed while having an orgasm and that movie would still be rated PG-13, but as soon as a film show’s woman’s face having an orgasm, it’s immediately rated R.
Ryan Gosling put it best:
You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film. (Chemaly, Soraya. "The MPAA’s backwards logic: Sex is dangerous, sexism is fine.")
The MPAA is sexist and outdated. These rules are demeaning and detrimental to women. It’s insane that a woman getting pleasure is too dangerous to put in a movie but sexual violence for an audience’s entertainment is okay. It’s time for the MPAA to realize that women are sexual beings in the same way men are and that the glorification of misogyny cannot be accepted.
Works Cited

Chemaly, Soraya. "The MPAA’s backwards logic: Sex is dangerous, sexism is fine." N.p., 16 Nov 2013. Web. 7 Feb 2014.

Ghahremani, T. "Evan Rachel Wood Calls MPAA Sexist For Censoring Oral Sex Scene in "Charlie Countryman"." N.p., 29 Nov 2013. Web. 7 Feb 2014.…...

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