New documentary tackles issues of sexual violence and gender inequality
One in three women will experience physical and/or sexual abuse in their lifetime.
Ovarian Psycos, a documentary that will be shown at Cinema Politica on March 6, uses this fact to drive the entire film. The documentary follows a bicycle brigade of womxn of colour, female-identifying individuals and gender nonconforming people in East L.A.
The brigade serves as a refuge for individuals who identify as outcasts from society, and need a safe space and community to go to. They organize bike rides and demonstrations around L.A. as a way to raise awareness about gender inequality, sexual violence, and murdered and missing womxn of colour, to name a few.
The film follows several members of the Ovas—which is short for Ovarian Psycos—from the founder, Xena de la X, to a new member, Evie. It sheds light on the difficult reality of living as womxn of colour in L.A. and dealing with traditional, post-colonized Mexican family expectations.
Xena was subject to relentless abuse as a child, which motivated her to create a safe space for womxn of colour to heal and act together. She came up with the idea of the Ovas not only to support those in need, but also as a united force to protest against the social injustices she had faced. Evie, a 21-year-old second-generation Mexican womxn, said her mother did not understand why she joined a cycling group because she believed cycling was a sport for men, and only men. Yet Evie found comfort and confidence in the Ovas by defying gender stereotypes and defining her identity outside of traditional constructs.
The Ovarian Psycos found their name by reclaiming their biology and female bodies as powerful, strong, defiant vessels through which to spread awareness and acceptance. The members wear bandanas printed with symbols of ovaries over their mouths as a way to reclaim urban gang culture in an all-inclusive, coloured, female context. They ride through the dark streets of L.A. howling, chanting and laughing as they go. Xena explained that, by channeling their anger and frustration into a progressive, active movement, they are able to release their inner “psychos” and confront patriarchal oppression in a public space.
The Ovas vow to always have love for their “sisters” and to keep their “spirits always rebellious.” By maintaining a safe community, they are able to gather large numbers and act as a powerful collective unit.
There is also a strong history of civil rights movements in East L.A., which the Ovas recognize, and they acknowledge their responsibility to continue it. Drawing inspiration from the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, the Ovas aim to recognize the historical oppression of Mexican Americans and reclaim racial violence that they were and are still subject to.
Due to the specificity of their movement and their experience dealing with intersectional oppression, the Ovas have received backlash from some members of the surrounding society. This opposition only fuels their desire to spread awareness of societal oppression of womxn and womxn of colour, and the realities of living as a minority in American society.
Cinema Politica will be showing Ovarian Psycos on Monday, March 6 at 7 p.m. in room H-110. Entry is by donation.
Writer’s note: The term “womxn” is a feminist term to differentiate women from the “man/men” part of the word.