Firstly, if you’ve never read Austin Wright’s Tony and Susan — the novel on which Nocturnal Animals is based — do yourself a favor and grab the book as soon as you can. It’s a fantastic, sometimes terrifying (my heart literally raced during parts, to the point where I’d make myself put it down) tale that puts an ordinary man in a terrible situation; one that’ll leave you thinking long past the read. I’ve not yet seen Ford’s film, but it looks to put a bit of a different spin on the way it’s told, and the teaser is stunningly gorgeous.
Speaking of putting a spin on things, the director was asked to revisit a statement he’d made to a GQ interviewer some years ago, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t turn around an offhanded remark into something quite sensible. After clarifying his intent at the time (a flirty, possibly drunk moment), Ford explains why he thinks “All men should be fucked”:
I think it would help them understand women. It’s such a vulnerable position to be in, and it’s such a passive position to be in. And there’s such an invasion, in a way, that even if it’s consensual, it’s just very personal. And I think there’s a psyche that happens because of it that makes you understand and appreciate what women go through their whole life, because it’s not just sexual, it’s a complete setup of the way the world works, that one sex has the ability to literally—and is expected to and is wanted to—but also there’s an invasion. And I think that that’s something most men do not understand at all.”
That’s beautifully perceptive; I don’t know that I’ve heard a man so easily and succinctly describe one of the differences in the way men and women interact — how sex informs the way we see ourselves and each other. Stepping outside of the act of intercourse, even as one is discussing it, is in itself an interesting experience. The whole dynamic between two people, one of whom is being entered by the other, is impossible to ignore. Despite any role play that may or may not be happening during the course of penetration, the effects might be short term, or lasting. If the two people are in a continuous relationship, there is an inescapable subliminal effect. Even if the sex is completely equal, both people actively fucking each other — as opposed to one or the other being submissive and/or dominant during the act — that relationship inescapably carries on in some way throughout the nonsexual interaction. One of you entered the other’s body, one of you was entered (as Ford puts it, “invaded”), and that leaves each person different emotional residue. If you are always in the position of entering another person … it’s not entirely possible to emotionally distance oneself from that position, any more than it is from the opposite viewpoint of the person being entered, and vice versa. The sexual act creates a certain dynamic, and that can also carry over into the way one’s brain views another gender. It’s not to say we can’t be empathetic toward the unexperienced viewpoint, but if you’ve never been on the other end, the intense physical and psychological ramifications are difficult to comprehend.
All of this to say, it’s pretty cool when people take the time to really think about the way we affect each other (and to Tom Ford, way to turn around a quote!).