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Flirting with Danger

Power & Choice in Heterosexual Relationships

Flirting with Danger

Duration: 52 min
ISBN: 1-932869-68-9
Date Produced: 2012
Subtitles: English

Filmmaker Info
Related Links
Press Reviews
Praise for the Film

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Flirting with Danger
Power & Choice in Heterosexual Relationships

Social and developmental psychologist and author Lynn Phillips explores the line between consent and coercion in this thought-provoking look at popular culture and the ways real girls and women navigate their heterosexual relationships and hookups. Featuring dramatizations of interviews that Phillips conducted with hundreds of young women, the film examines how the wider culture's frequently contradictory messages about pleasure, danger, agency, and victimization enter into women's most intimate relationships with men. The result is a refreshingly candid, and nuanced, look at how young women are forced to grapple with deeply ambivalent cultural attitudes about female sexuality. Essential for courses that look at popular culture, gender norms, sexuality, and sexual violence.

Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains Sexual Imagery & Language & Explores Adult Themes

A high school version -- edited for profanity -- is available on the same DVD.

About Lynn Phillips

Lynn Phillips, Ph.D., has taught in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts since 2005 and is the 2012 recipient of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award. A social and developmental psychologist by training, she teaches courses in media and critical cultural studies, with a particular focus on issues of gender, race, class, and sexuality; media impacts on children's wellbeing; and the health and environmental implications of consumer culture. Her publications include Flirting with Danger: Young Women's Reflections on Sexuality and Domination, Unequal Partners: Power and Consent in Adult-Teen Relationships, and The Girls Report: What We Know and Need to Know about Adolescent Girls. Committed to participatory activist research, she has collaborated with such organizations as Planned Parenthood, battered women's shelters, sexual health and education programs, and grassroots programs and foundations supporting girls and youth development. She is currently working on a second documentary film with the Media Education Foundation, based on her research on "hooking up" on college campuses. She has appeared on National Public Radio, the CBC, CNN, ABC, Fox News, and other television and radio programs, and her research on adolescent girls' issues has received front-page attention in the Washington Post and several other national and international news publications. She received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development from the University of Pennsylvania.

Bring Lynn Phillips to speak at your campus.


It is possible that after watching this film you might want to talk to someone about your own experiences. Here are some resources:
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Network to End Domestic Violence
V-Day and Vagina Monologues

Filmmaker Info

A Media Education Foundation Production
Based on the work of Lynn Phillips
Produced, Directed & Edited by Sut Jhally & Andrew Killoy
Story Editor: Jeremy Earp
Additional Editing: Jason Young
Acting Coach: Alex Peterson
Associate Producers: Lynn Comella & Megan Mortimer
Executive Producer: Sut Jhally
Featuring: Annie Bradford, Ana Darrow, Leslie Diana, Alana Fallis, Kelsey Flynn, Morgan Hammel, Katherine Hart, Maria Hinojos, Rebecca Holtz, Dana Kaplowitz, Trenda Loftin, Nicole Morris, Nomita Ramchandani, Katie Speed, Ren Steger & Evy Yergen
Director of Photography: Steven Vote
Location Sound Recordist: Andy Turrett
Colorist & Sound Mixer: Rikk Desgres, Pinehurst Pictures & Sound
Media Research: Scott Morris & Jason Young

Film Festivals

Learn more about the book, Flirting with Danger, by Lynn Phillips.

Press Reviews

Hey, Sex Ed
Not blaming the victim, not being a victim: Viewing "Flirting with Danger"
Anthropology Review Database

Praise for the Film

"Lynn Phillips's interviews reveal the contradictory messages that young women embrace about sexuality and femininity -- messages that leave them often feeling both confused and powerful, crazy and confident, but also leave them vulnerable to exploitation and assault. This bracing film will make you squirm -- and provoke exactly the conversation our society needs to be having -- with both young women and young men. I can't wait to share this with my students!"
- Michael Kimmel | Distinguished Professor of Sociology at SUNY Stony Brook | Author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men

"Lynn Phillip's Flirting With Danger is one of my favorite books to teach because it reflects so well the contradictory realities of my students' lives and opens the door to honest conversations about sexual consent, control, victimization, and agency. There's something especially powerful about this film adaptation of her research findings, however. Maybe it's the visual display of hypersexualized media juxtaposed with abstinence-only educators ranting about the dangers of sex punctuated with the genuine struggle of young women trying to make sense of it all. Add Phillips' clear, direct narration of her analysis, and this is one of the best films I've seen in a good long while."
- Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed,D. | Professor of Education at Colby College | Author of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes | Co-Founder of the Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge (SPARK) Movement

"This powerful film provides an honest and in-depth analysis of the situations faced by young women as they navigate sexual relationships, including ones tinged with various degrees of violence. In interviews with the author, the women openly discuss their relationships, fears, and desires, and they explain how they negotiate society's contradictory messages about women's sexuality. Phillips makes a compelling case that we need to move beyond the simplistic analyses of victim vs. agent and coercion vs. consent, which limit the ways that women and girls can discuss and even understand their own experiences. I am excited to show this engaging and thought-provoking film in my classes."
- Lisa H. Schwartzman | Associate Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University

"This is a riveting film, one that is essential viewing for all North American adolescents and young adults. Flirting with Danger is destined to be a classic pedagogical tool that will be of much value to teachers from a broad range of scholarly backgrounds."
- Walter S. DeKeseredy, Ph.D. | Professor of Criminology at University of Ontario Institute of Technology

"This powerful films explores why our ideas about 'consent' don't match the experiences of actual women. Phillips' film is at once a wake up call, asking feminists to rethink the ways we frame victimization and power, and a poignant exploration of the real dilemmas young women face as they try to craft meaningful sexual lives."
- Amy C. Wilkins, Ph.D. | Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado

"This is definitely a necessary teaching tool in combination with the book Flirting with Danger. The intimacy of stories told by young women will allow students to gain control of their sexuality and resist cultural discourses in the male-dominated society."
- Shu Ju Ada Cheng | Associate Professor of Sociology at DePaul University

"Flirting with Danger is an important film and teaching tool, documenting the complex terrain young women must navigate as their emerging sexual identities and desires remain eclipsed by cultural double standards and mixed messages. Young women's newfound right to sexual desire has been readily co-opted and conflated with their sexual desirability and sexual performance in the service of men. Lynn Phillip's work -- powerfully explored in this film -- reveals how young women continue to be held responsible for men's pleasure, and continue to be held accountable for their experiences of sexual victimization, to the detriment of their safety and wellbeing."
- Jody Miller | Professor of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University | Author of Getting Played: African American Girls, Urban Inequality, and Gendered Violence

"This film reveals the sexual pressures and realities of our culture through media, music videos, and film. An important learning tool that has the potential to change the landscape and help girls find their power."
- Patti Feuereisen, Ph.D. | Author of Invisible Girls : The Truth About Sexual Abuse | Founder of Girlthrive Inc.

"The voices in Flirting with Danger remind us to pay attention to the exploitation women face as they navigate through their lives, and to the role that power, coercion and submission play in the development of sexual identity. The film challenges us to address the complexities at the intersection of freedom and persecution in order to support both individual women and the women's movement as we strive to reshape attitudes and beliefs in service to equality and the end of suffering for everyone. Flirting with Danger is a film relevant for anyone working with, caring about or investing in building a better world for women and girls."
- Julie Edsforth & Jane Hinton | Co-Founder & Executive Director of Powerful Voices

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