By Julia DiGiacomo
A screening of the documentary Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution, exposed audience members on Wednesday night to the complexities behind today’s hookup culture among young adults.
The film follows college students’ experiences on a 2013 spring break in Panama City, Florida, in order to provide insight into the sexual behaviors and attitudes of young adults.
The film revealed the influence of media and pop culture on sexuality and the societal pressure to conform. The sexual objectification of women and cultural expectations were also exposed through interviews with affected individuals.
The film was created by the nonprofit group Exodus Cry and directed by Benjamin Nolot. It was recently released exclusively on Netflix. The local screening took place in the PappaJohn Business Building.
“We hope that by watching this film, people will understand that to be liberated is to know what all of your options are and then be able to choose what’s best for you and those around you,” Producer Morgan Perry said.
Some of the issues addressed included the strict cultural definitions of masculinity and femininity as shaped by media.
“We hope that in a lot of ways [viewers] will become more media literate by understanding the messages in media and the messages out there right now about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman and how hyper-sexualized that whole narrative is,” Perry said.
The documentary also touched on a gang rape having occurred on the crowded beaches of Panama City the same summer. The assault was filmed but not halted by passersby.
“Rape is very prominent in society today,” University of Iowa student Caitlyn Fleming said. “It’s a scary thing, and it’s not easy to talk about.”
Fleming described the film as a “crash of reality.”
“It was very eye-opening for us,” Perry said. “We realized there was a bigger story here — this normalization of rape and sexual assault and the role that media play in that.”
Perry said one of the men featured on spring break in the film, Shay Douglas, has had an incredible journey since the filming.
Douglas said he has taken it upon himself to heal and transform in the five years since he was filmed regarding his perspectives and experiences with hookup culture. He described the way he treated women as dehumanizing and expressed an apology to himself, women, and his friends.
“Ultimately, I now have a deeper understanding of how many multidimensions there are to being a human — physical, spiritual, mental, emotional,” Douglas said. “All of these things play into how someone exists in their life. At that time in my life, I was heavily unbalanced and didn’t take into account the whole human being and that was reflected in how I treated others.”
Screenings of *Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution* will be held at universities across the world in the upcoming months.
“We’re doing this impact campaign, which is for as many college students as possible because you are our target audience,” Perry said. “We love to engage with you about the film, hear your feedback, have meaningful conversations afterwards, and hopefully see real tangible change happen as a result of the film and these conversations.”