EDIT: Rachel Wotton contacted me with some constructive criticism of this review, which I’ve welcomed. All the edits below are in red, so you can also see the original content and what has been changed. I would also like to say that Scarlet Road was the first instance I have seen the work that Rachel does, so I’m very new to the discussion. In the interests of transparency, her original comments are posted below as the first comment to this post. I hope that it can be used as the starting point for further discussion.
Can I gush before we start? I like gushing sometimes – the “omgyouhavetoseeit” schoolgirl-style fawning. Eeeeee!
Let me put my serious reviewer hat on and say in a more controlled manner – I really like this film. I like it even more that its Australian.
Scarlet Road is a documentary that follows Rachel Wotton, an Australian sex worker, and her involvement in helping disabled people have a fulfilling sex life. We don’t often think of those who are physically disabled as having active sex lives, possibly assuming it’s something that they would have had to forgo given their disability, and this film is a real eye-opener. They do need to be touched affectionately, sexually, they have the same desires as the able-bodied. It feels weird typing this – and I feel a little ashamed that I didn’t automatically assume this was the case. Possibly because society never speaks as openly and refreshingly about this subject as Scarlet Road does.
It is well structured, and filled with so many memorable characters. Mark, the man with cerebral palsy, and his parents who treat him like a grown man and acknowledge his needs as such. Matt, Rachel’s partner, who needs to be a model for so many other men in this world in his open-mindedness. However, the star of the show is Rachel herself – articulate, beautiful, and I couldn’t think of a better spokesperson for her cause promoting awareness of sex work and disability.
My only issue that I must mention is that while many
prostitutes* sex workers in Australia are as empowered as Rachel, there still needs to be the awareness that some * sex workers in Australia aren’t (think those trafficked and sold into sex slavery as seen in The Jammed).# prostitutes
* The correct term is ‘sex worker’.
# I understand and acknowledge Rachel’s point of view re: this paragraph. My intent with this paragraph was to raise awareness of a completely separate issue. I did not mean to associate any of the work that Rachel does with trafficking, and understand her frustration. I wish Rachel and co. all the best with turning perceptions of the sex industry around.
This is a film that the community needs to support, but I can see getting some backlash from conservatives. Watch with an open mind.