Out in the Night

In today’s society, women continue to face discrimination on various issues ranging from gender, race to their sexual orientation. Despite the gains that may have been made in an effort to address the stereotyping of women, mistreatment of the female gender continues to be witnessed (Lamidi p93). The social ills directed against the women have been depicted in the entertainment industry with the documentary Out in the Night being a reflection of the same.

Explanation of functioning of theories of essentialism in the case

Essentialism is the view that particular thing has an essence. Specifically, it identifies the fact that a particular attribute that identifies a given object is made of a set of characteristics that are inherent to it. The essentialist theories can be used to explain the case depicted about the women in the documentary Out in the Night. The accused people in the film have been portrayed as violent lesbians. In applying the essentialist theories, four main issues can be used to explain the concept, hormonal arguments, physiological arguments, genetic arguments and psychological arguments. In adopting the hormonal argument, one can state that the behavior of the accused is beyond their control. According to the theory, the fetus is not usually provided with specific sex hormones. Because of the same, the behavior depicted by the four women cannot entirely be blamed on them.

In applying the aspect of the physiological argument, the theorists propose that there are differences in the hypothalamus between people of the same biological sex, but again, different sexual orientations exist. The deviation from normal behavior with regard to sexual orientation as depicted by the four women in Out in the Night can explain their actions. For example, they are lesbians while at the same time depicting violence. The society is judging them possibly because of the lack of understanding of possible physiological differences. Additionally, in explaining the behavior of the four women, genetics can be used to illustrate the same. According to the theorists, sexual orientation is genetically linked. Therefore, it would be unfair to judge the women because of their sexual alignment. Finally, in adopting the Freudian theory, it is possible to comprehend the behavior of women in Out in the Night. According to Freud, everyone is born bisexual. Factors such as fear of castration, missing father, dominant mother, and auto-erotic fixation can explain one’s bi- or homosexual behavior (Rodowick). Probably the four lesbian women in the film may be suffering from the same hence their behavior. This is an indication of the need not to judge them because of their behavior.

Treatment of the Women by the Media, Police, and Criminal Justice System with regard to Intersectional Identities.

The women suffer from problems of stereotyping. The media, police and the criminal justice system focus, not on the circumstances that resulted in the fight arising but on issues of race, gender, and their sexual orientation. The fact that they are black women has played a fundamental role in them being associated with a gang. For example, the eruption of the fight has seen the police decide that it was a gang fight on the grounds that they were black. Further, the media accuses the women of acting irrationally because of their gender and possibly sexual orientation. The women are therefore treated prejudicially because of their intersectional identities.

Concept of “fear” in mobilizing an opinion of the accused

Fear has played a fundamental role in determining the opinion of the defendant. For example, the fact that they are black and walking in a group of four associates them with a possibly dangerous group of individuals. Decisions made by the media, police and the criminal justice system are all attributed to the fact that there is a notion of “fear” of the accused. The same problem is evident on the accused. The fact that they are lesbians is haunting them. Their behavior that includes dressing and acting in a way perceived as being masculine itself elicits fear. Because of the same, they face the real-life impact of being black women. The effect is manifested in how the women are treated in the press and by the criminal justice system. Further, there is the fear of the accused being “homosexual aggressors” because of their race. Such factors significantly determine the opinion one would have on the accused.

Stereotypes used to portray people in the case and how it affects the outcome

The first stereotype that is evident regards the concept of women being lesbian because of historical practices. For example, the 1940s and 1950s saw a significant percentage of women in prison being lesbian. This has since then become a norm in popular culture. Further, there is the stereotype of female Africans being aggressive homosexuals compared to their white counterparts. This has contributed to the manner in which they are treated. For example, the criminal justice system has accused them of attempted murder, oblivious to the fact that they were provoked by the man based on their sexual orientation. The media equally judges them because of their color and sexual orientation. Evidently, there are adverse outcomes associated with the stereotyping.

Works Cited

Lamidi, Ishola. “Media, Gender, and Conflict: The Problem of Eradicating Stereotyping of Women in Nigeria.” Kuwait Chapter of the Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review 2.12 (2013): 93.

Rodowick, David Norman. The Difficulty of Difference: Psychoanalysis, Sexual Difference and Film Theory. Routledge, 2014.


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