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Synopsis: Entertaining, thrilling and radical, THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE explores the work of four women who are shattering myths and lies about female sexual desire, bodies and —ultimately—power.

Groundbreaking artist Sophia Wallace challenges long-held ideas of women with her “cliteracy” project, putting front and center the clitoris as fundamental to female orgasm. Dr. Stacey Dutton, a neuroscientist who realized she had never seen a drawing of the clitoris until she discovered Wallace’s work, is now committed to studying its biology and pushing the publishing industry to correct the deliberate omissions of the clitoris in major anatomy textbooks. With 20 years of research, Dr. Lisa Diamond is dismantling outdated notions about women’s arousal. And industrial designer Ti Chang heads CRAVE, a company dedicated to designing and manufacturing elegant vibrators for women.

Providing the embodiment of this work are the personal stories of Umnia, Becca, Jasmine, Sunny, and Coriama — five young women discovering and owning their sexuality.

THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE is a powerful reminder that true equality will come only when we all arrive at a place of understanding and acknowledgement that women are sexual beings, entitled to live their lives fully within the expression of their desire.



Run Time

108 minutes

Directed by

Maria Finitzo

Produced by

Maria Finitzo
Cynthia Kane
Diane Quon

Director's Statement

THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE has taken much of its inspiration from the ground- breaking essay Uses of the Erotic by feminist Audre Lorde. In her essay, Lorde tells us that the erotic is a force within all of us. Women are warned against it all their lives by the male world, and so as a result, for women this means a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information in our lives. This is at the heart of THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE. Power is easily taken when the truth is replaced with a lie. Sex education teaches us all about male anatomy and male pleasure and little about female pleasure and female anatomy unless it has to do with reproduction. The clitoris, the organ of female sexual pleasure, is omitted entirely. So a girl’s understanding of her own sexuality begins with the lie of omission that will resonate deeply throughout her entire life. THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE explores the profound impact of this lie. We believe it is the first film to directly connect women’s struggle for personal and political power with the suppression of their human right to be sexual. The way women are viewed sexually in the world cannot be separated from the way they are treated. If girls and women can be denied the right to know the simple truth about their anatomy, than what other rights can they also be denied? It’s not a leap from a lie to oppression. It’s one small step. It is a powerful thing to control someone’s body. That is why no one wants to talk about the clitoris. It is a reminder of women’s independence and is at the core of their liberation. As Lorde’s essay goes on to tell us, controlling women’s sexuality serves to reduce women to ”docile bodies”, loyal and obedient and willing to accept facets of their own oppression. As long as women remain in such a condition they will not challenge efforts to control them, whether in the bedroom, the boardroom, or in government. A “culturally cliterate” world offers an alternative narrative to the one that promotes the notion that women are sex objects who take direction from male power and accept all with little resistance. In a culturally cliterate world, a woman defines sex according to her own values, desires, and pleasures, settling for nothing less than personal autonomy. So yes, THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE talks about the clitoris—where it is, what it looks like and what it is for. But this is not just a film about the clitoris or even sex. Instead it is a film that connects the consciousness of clitoral facts — THE TRUTH — with a female empowerment that is way beyond sexual satisfaction. Empowerment that fuels growth, creativity, and personhood, helping women find and express personal and political power.

Director's Bio

MARIA FINITZO (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning social issue documentary filmmaker whose 30 years as a filmmaker has resulted in a body of work that has won every major broadcast award including most recently the Alfred E duPont Award and has been screened in festivals and theaters around the world. Her films are novelistic in their structure, providing multiple points of connection for an audience. She allows the narrative arc of her character’s story to evolve, colliding with other subjects from the film, creating a complex, nuanced story that serves as a vehicle to deepen our understanding of society through everyday human drama. A coming of age story that reveals the resilience of adolescent girls (5 GIRLS), a father determined to heal his daughter after a tragic accident (MAPPING STEM CELL RESEARCH: TERRA INCOGNITA) investigates the role of science in a democratic society, a young man, leaving foster care (WITH NO DIRECTION HOME) explores the challenges of trying to find one’s place in the world, a soccer coach committed to teaching his players – Hispanic girls – about winning in life (IN THE GAME), and a young couple, both working minimum wage jobs struggling to make ends meet while building a life for themselves and their children (HARD EARNED) are all films that explore different realms of storytelling by investigating the important social issues of the day. Finitzo’s films have tackled a variety of subjects from the controversial science of stem cell research and the complex questions surrounding the command and control of nuclear weapons to the psychology of adolescent girls, each film demonstrating a depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise. Finitzo is a 2018 Film Independent Fellow and is also a fiction screenwriter and director. She is currently working on an adaptation of a short story by Nobel Prize winning author Alice Munro. A TASTE OF LIFE will be Finitzo’s 2nd fiction film. She is a longtime associate of the award-winning documentary company, Kartequin Films, one of the oldest and most respected social issue documentary film companies in the country.

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