As I saw the trailer of the moving-picture biography of Michalina Wisłocka and learnt the film was shot and produced by the same crew who were behind absolutely magnificent Bogowie, I knew I had to watch the film portrait of a woman who in the 1970s became for Poles the same who Alfred Kinsey became for Americans over 20 years earlier.
The life story of Mrs Wisłocka which emerges from the film is somewhat heart-wrenching and somewhat sordid. The person who taught Poles to discover their sexuality in her twenties lived in a self-arranged threesome, the as she, her husband and their (female) friend / lover broke up, in her mid-thirties fell in love and had an affair with a married man to finally end up as a single mature woman. I do not mean such life experience could disqualify hrt as an sex therapist, yet depicts how complicated life is and how important it is to separate one’s own painful tribulations from an objective look on relationships between women and men. If Mrs Wisłocka was denied the right to teach people how to love, why priests, who by definition should live in celibacy and abstain from sexual activity, would be allowed to instruct people how to raise families and shape love life?
In terms of being a work of art, I found the movie gripping, yet not as splendid as Bogowie. For part of the audience some moments might be found disgusting, since scenes of copulation are exposed naturalistically and probably the short length and hiding sexual organs are the only reasons why they do not fall under the definition of pornography.
As I understand it, the intent of the film is twofold – to bring closer to audience the profile of Mrs Wisłocka and, predominantly, to break the still-existent taboo of speaking openly of sex life. Mrs Wisłocka deserves credit for raising awareness of sexuality, extending access to education on the topic and fighting prudishness, avidly nurtured by both the catholic church and the communist party.
Sexual needs are, as Mrs Wisłocka pointed out over her whole life, one of basic (closer to the bottom than in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) needs of a human and need to be met. This assertion does not imply one should strive to make unfettered indulgence in all desires, but to combine love and making love, the emotional and the physical realms of love, which only brought together bring true self-fulfilment. If the classic sentence: I am human, and nothing of that which is human is alien to me, holds true, why should we be ashamed of what is human?
If the shame creeps in, this is just because inhibitions have been instilled in us in the process of upbringing, which should definitely be balanced – neither promoting dissipation (we are human therefore we should not copulate like animals) nor confining sexuality a tool of reproduction only married people are allowed to use.
Wisdom Mrs Wisłocka wanted to pass on to ordinary people has not evolved much over decades, as some concepts are everlasting:
- making love should not be associated with fear nor pain (leave out S&M now),
- there is no evil in drawing pleasure from sex, but equally important is to strive for your partner’s (especially woman’s) pleasure, give them respect and know limits they have set,
- sex life involves responsibility for your partner and yourself and realising consequences it may have,
- sexuality is an embodiment of love as an emotion and ought not to be boiled down to coarse lusts; only embedding in emotionality can guarantee fulfilment in sex life.
And at the end of the day, youngsters starting the sex life should bear in mind one universal sentence: Whatever you do, do prudently and mind the outcome.
The next step, which actually I should have taken before watching the film, is coming by the book by Mrs Wisłocka and reading it from cover to cover. Shame on me, I will be catching up with some overdue education and thus remind myself the value of lifelong learning in every realm of life.