The Abnormal Woman (NSFW)

The Abnormal Woman was directed by George Rodgers in 1969. It was filmed without sound and has narration dubbed over it. It came out just a few years before full-color hardcore porn went mainstream. The Abnormal Woman, or sometimes called The Abnormal Female is one of the last of its kind. An ultra-cheap, black and white smattering of ham-fisted soft-core sex marketed with a paper-thin narrative that is meant to imbue it with the veracity of a real film, and not just the smut that it actually is.

The Abnormal Woman is the “story” of a psychiatrist named Dr. Schuman, and the many “perverted” patients he administers to. Each of them confesses their “deviant” sexual experiences to him, and as they begin their account the camera relays the gruesome details of their activities. It’s all very scientific and educational.

The above photo is of Phil. According to Sherry the way Phil looked at her in the bar made her “tingle all over.” Lucky Phil got to go home with Sherry and have awkward sex with her to the strains of some limp but jazzy, rock n roll. While she pretends to give him a robotic blow job from a safe distance away, Dr. Schuman narrates her case, “In her early stages of puberty (pronounced pooberty) Sherry was caught masturbating by her parents just as she was reaching a climax. She was scolded severely. This shocking experienced caused Sherry to seek sexual gratification in what she called ‘dirty sex.’ She can only reach the heights of sexual ecstasy when she is called obscene names.”

After Sherry’s encounter, we watch several more patients reveal their sexual shenanigans each bookended by Dr.Schumer’s sober assessment. One couple engages in what the doctor refers to as troilism. Grammarly has no idea what troilism is. It sounds like some kind of disfiguring disease but it is apparently just sex with three people. The couple in question finds Barbara who is willing to have a threesome. Dr. Schuman explains that Barbara is willing to experiment with homosexuality “out of sheer desperation, through sexual frustration and boredom.” The couple takes advantage of her desperation and they form a wiggly naked triangle on the bed. It all looks uniquely un-arousing but they seem happy about it.

There’s also a dominatrix in leather, a 15-year-old blonde nymphomaniac, and lots of lesbians. They all come to see the doctor and strangely no one seems to get any better. By the end of the film, they all just look tired and a little wet (there is a lot of licking in soft-core sex). The last scene in the film is of two women going at it or pretending to go at it, while a song sings us the moral of the story.

“She was too easy

It wasn’t love at all

She was just easy

Too easy and free

I should have seen it

Something different

No need even call

It was that easy

That simple for me

People knew

They all knew

She’d been ten time through the mill

Now she’s here

Then she’s gone

Seeking some new thrill

And so it’s better

To forget her

And how she made me feel

She was too easy

Too easy to be real.”

The lyrics of the song and the premise of the film are typical of the late 1960s in America. There is a hopelessly mixed message that is being sent here. The film invited us to revel in open depictions of sex but then admonishes women for participating. It illustrates the confusion and betrayal that many women felt toward the “sexual revolution.” There is a moment in the film where two women are brought together by a man with a plan. He gets the two women to have sex in front of him but just before the two women approach each other, we get a close-up of their facial expressions and they seem to convey a profound ambivalence.

The revolution promised fun and fulfillment for everyone but as much as some norms and social mores were relaxed there was still a puritanical undercurrent. Many women found that they were welcome to freely engage in sexual activity but the result was a change in how men saw them. The libertine woman was valued by men, but not as anything other than a libertine. Freud’s adage that men want a lady in the drawing-room and a whore in the bedroom was simply fractured allowing a woman to openly be one or the other but not both.

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