Swimming Upstream: A Year in the Life of Karen and Jenny | Chicago Reader

Swimming Upstream: A Year in the Life of Karen and Jenny

Jennifer Freedman's video documentary examines the mood swings, social strain, and sexual anxiety of a lesbian couple preparing to give birth to a child, and though it's pretty dull visually, its emotional content is often breathtaking. Karen, the expectant mother, recalls the repercussions of her Southern Baptist upbringing and her delay in acknowledging her homosexuality; her mate, the more aggressive Jenny, was the plaintiff in a landmark California case charging gender discrimination against girls who wanted to play Little League baseball. The elaborate role-playing between the two women, their complex social identities, and their disruption of cultural and sexual stereotypes are all handled gracefully and intelligently, providing an emotional setup for the tense and numbing birth of the child. The video suffers from an abrupt and fairly unsatisfying ending, the result of trying to summarize everything that preceded it, but this is still compelling stuff. 74 min.


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