The Ultravenus Netflix Top 5

Emily Hughes

Netflix has quickly become a go-to when it comes to movie, box set and documentary viewing. With rainy and dreary days coming thick and fast, I’ve compiled a list of interesting viewings for those interested in feminism.

  1. Hot Girls Wanted

Before I get started, this documentary should have a trigger warning. It doesn’t, but please be warned some of the footage shown depicts sexual violence and may be triggering to survivors.

Before watching Hot Girls Wanted, I was pretty confident that working in porn must be horrendous but nothing prepared me for the shocking and difficult to watch 84 minutes that awaited. This film invites the viewer to see the experiences of a number of young women aged 18 – 24 in the amateur adult film industry.

I felt hot flushes of anguish courtesy of the blasé attitude of Riley Reynolds, a high school loser who founded Hussie Models and cashes in on these young and vulnerable girls. I was upset by the fact that these women felt porn was the only way to pay their way through university, education shouldn’t be so inaccessible. The short shelf life of women in this field is disgusting (THREE MONTHS). It’s like a inhumane conveyor belt – they’re then replaced, discarded, and then frequently feel shame for what they have done. It was a draining and emotional experience but an important one all the same.

I do have a major criticism of Hot Girls Wanted – it’s disappointing that only one Mexican woman is featured amongst a sea of seemingly middle class white women and no women of any other colour or creed. Articles like this one show there is a harrowing link between race and abuse in the porn industry.


  1. Saving Face

Another heartbreaking programme, I’m afraid, but also vital. Saving Face tells the story of a handful of women in Pakistan who have been subjected to acid attacks. This type of abuse is scarily becoming more and more common. The documentary cites 100 a year are reported but many sufferers are too frightened to come forward. It’s becoming so much of an issue that a free burns clinic for victims has been set up.

Katie Piper, the English model who suffered the same fate was actually a bit of a guinea pig to her plastic surgeon, Dr Mohammed Jawad. After the success of her multiple reconstructive procedures, Dr Jawad had a newfound confidence and desire to help the women of his home country. Saving Face documents his visit to Pakistan and the each of women he helps’ journey to recovery.


  1. Girl Rising  

If you enjoyed reading Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography or are interested in the work she does, this could be one for you. Girl Rising is a movie-style documentary that’s really unique. It focuses on a number of young girls from developing countrie around the world who did not have access to education for a number of saddening reasons and makes reconstructions of their stories, where the girls star as themselves. Each girl was partnered with a writer from their home country to help bring their autobiographical stories to life.


  1. Tig

Tig Notaro is a stand up comedian.

Just writing about this makes me smile; the film, despite its repeatedly sad parts, is completely uplifting and inspirational. She is portrayed as such a fun, light hearted person and her comedy doesn’t revolve around jokes at the expense of others but mainly herself, which I’m a massive fan of. The documentary is raw and emotive. It follows the comedienne as she tackles life as a single lesbian woman in her forties, trying to find a surrogate mother and sperm donor for her baby whilst falling in love with her straight female friend and doing super rad things like flashing her mastectomy scars during a filmed comedy special.


  1. What Happened, Miss Simone?

Whilst making Ultravenus Volume 2, I asked the other ladies on the UV team for their input to help get a representation of all of our inspirations and mix of genres for the playlist. Iris selected “Love Me or Leave Me” by Nina Simone. When I saw there was a documentary about Nina on Netflix, I was really keen to get to know the soul behind the incredible voice and boy, am I glad I did.

Her musical talents were just out of this world and Nina is painted as articulate, eloquent and beautiful. As the film goes on, we get an insiders view to what went on behind closed doors and its pretty dark. Her story is told through interviews with those who knew her – her friends, husband and daughter, as well as live footage of her performing and being interviewed.

It’s such a powerful piece of cinematography covering a whole scope of issues from the white washing of beauty standards, racism and her role in activism, domestic violence, rape and mental health. Since viewing it and listening to her music makes my heart aches as I can hear the pain in the lyrics which turn out to have hidden meaning.

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