What’s Current: Bertolucci admits to planning non-consensual scene with Maria Schneider in ‘Last Tango in Paris’

marlon-brando-and-bernardo-bertolucci-on-set-of-last-tango-in-paris-1972

Italian director Bernando Bertolucci admits that he and Marlon Brando conspired to film the last scene in Last Tango In Paris without Maria Schneider’s consent. In 2007, Schneider said she felt “raped” by Brando during the scene:

“Marlon said to me: ‘Maria, don’t worry, it’s just a movie,’ but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn’t real, I was crying real tears.

I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.”

Indigenous feminists are still asking for a seat at the table, with regard to the National Inquiry.

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University of Toronto lecturer Nick Matte says the notion that there is such a thing as biological sex is a “popular misconception.”

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • will

    I have to say I am still triggered by any mention of that film and that scene in particular as it really mirrors an experience I had at a very young age. Then in the months and years afterwards to hear so many people referring to it as the hottest film scene everywhere or making “butter” jokes with lascivious smiles on their faces. Honestly it still makes me want to cry and kill. Rape is like that.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Argh! It seems to be working now… I’m not sure what is going on! Sorry for the trouble.

    • Jane

      It’s okay. Hey, I came across this: https://www.statnews.com/2016/03/07/uterine-transplant-transgender/ — it seems like a pretty clear women’s issue and I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it. It seems like the kind of thing that would come up on this site, so I thought I’d mention it. Just…be warned. I found it quite a bit terrifying, personally. I mean…at first, before I even had time to think, my body just had this full-on cringe. It’s one of those things. So, you know…brace yourself.

  • Cassandra

    You aren’t born a “gender.” You are born a SEX. “Gender” is what’s placed ON TOP OF Sex to keep females down and males above them.

  • Cassandra

    “University of Toronto lecturer Nick Matte says the notion that there is such a thing as biological sex is a “popular misconception.””

    She/he whatever the fuck it is believes in the stork, too. They must, right? I mean, otherwise it’s all just a popular misconception that there is a reproductive process at all and all of us human beings are just an illusion.

  • Cassandra

    Marlon Brando was a piece of shit.

  • Scifimaster92

    It’s probably worth noting that Schneider did state in an earlier interview that the scene was 100% simulated, and that no actual intercourse actually took place during filming of the scene. Still, this does not excuse the fact that Bertolucci made her endure unnecessary emotional trauma for the sake of “authenticity”.

  • Yisheng Qingwa

    Hollywood is run by misogynist, child-raping, predatory males.

  • Scifimaster92

    Sorry about that last comment. I was still in the process of trying to wrap my head around the implications of the Bertolucci situation at the time. You know, this whole thing reminds me a bit of an article published on this site earlier this year about how many of those who made great music weren’t necessarily great people in real life, something that could easily apply to those in other media as well such as film.

  • will

    Thanks Morag999.

  • Wren

    “I would posit, in fact, that in a patriarchy in which there is a
    hierarchy that separates men and women and in which women are groomed to
    be the property of men that heterosexual sex should be approached from a
    vantage point of abuse (of a power differential that could result in
    abuse) and that within a heterosexual relationship abuse needs to be
    constantly and vigilantly defended against, through open communication
    and the active application of mutual respect.”

    I completely agree with this. But my only point of contention is that I’m not sure it is a two way street of communication and mutual respect. I’m starting to think that the only way I can have a healthy relationship with a man is if I’m constantly questioning everything he does and all of my reactions. I can’t imagine that there exists a man that does this of his own volition.

    I’ve only just realized that I still react submissively and in fear whenever a man is angry and feel I have to placate them, even if they are wrong and completely out of line. I don’t know if there will ever exist a man that truly understands the dynamics in which he was bred and raised to be aware of all the subtle mansplaining and coercion embedded in his behavior. I don’t know, maybe I’m just glum because American men are now officially free to grab pussy whenever they’d like.

    I can’t stand the idea of having this battle in my intimate life, but I am hopelessly straight. Despite knowing that I would have so many additional struggles if I loved women, I still would trade that any day to have a true relationship where I didn’t need to always be vigilant and afraid. Fucking sucks.

    • calabasa

      I agree. I know lesbians are annoyed by the “if only I were a lesbian thing,” and I know there is abuse in lesbian relationships (likely due internalization of heteronormativity), but still, it would be nice to be able to be with someone I’m not scared of and someone who is not representative of an oppressor class, regardless of his personal qualities.

      I guess for us hopelessly straight women teaching becomes the option. We must first try to date men with integrity, and then teach them why a lot of their behavior is problematic.

      I feel so traumatized by repeated rape and abuse that I am afraid to date again, frankly. This sucks as I really am attracted to men and really do enjoy sex. I felt like my enjoyment of sex–and maybe the way I *use* sex in a relationship to try to please my partner, as I’ve been groomed that way–is an instrumental part of why I became an object of sexual obsession for my last partner. He felt himself having feelings and falling in love and wasn’t sure if it would be reciprocated and didn’t like how the intimate way we were having sex gave me power, so he turned me into an object and made sex all about him and became abusive to feel powerful; his sexual obsession–his obsession with blow jobs and anal sex and otherwise rough or degrading sex–was an obsession with power that was very mixed up with lust and the reward associated with an orgasm at another’s expense, likely porn-conditioned (what Rachel Moran calls “evil arousal,” sexuality channeling evil). As a corollary to men’s sadism is women’s masochism; a lot of women are really turned on by being submissive (when they’re in control of the situation, not in situations of sexual abuse, which feels awful) because of this evil arousal as well (because they have sexualized the conditions of their subordination, much as men have sexualized the conditions of their dominance). And how could we not (sexualize the conditions of our male/female dominance/submission), when male dominance is so blatantly about sex?

      I’ve heard many men complain about women who say no when they mean yes. *Of course* women fetishize the conditions of their dominance, and of *course* women internalize that, in order to be good women, they are not supposed to enthusiastically say “yes,” that sex is something to be won from them; of course! So women can also be responsible, both for playing the sex object in the relationship not out of sexual desire but a desire to please and of playing the submissive because she doesn’t want to be the “whore” (the Madonna/whore dichotomy). Women are groomed into this, to be enablers of men’s abusive dynamic. However, many women confuse being turned on by submission (which I don’t buy is biological, I think it’s because of how we’re socialized to internalize and fetishize the conditions of our own oppression) with wanting/liking to have male-centered sex that focuses on pleasing men, often in ways that are painful, dangerous or degrading to them. So many women feel like this is normal, especially girls and young women, which is why I say that I think much of what passes for consensual sex is actually abuse. It’s not just men being selfish or being “bad in bed;” one-sided sex harms women and their self-esteem by reducing them to objects.

      Because of the innate inequality between men and women it seems impossible that a relationship between the two would not be fraught when it comes to all sorts of issues–decision-making, emotional labor, domestic duties, and sex. I agree with you that it always seems to go one way when it comes to this conversation, and we are always in danger of being labeled the “nagging woman” for trying to get men to quit bugging us for blow jobs or to do their fair share of the cooking. I suppose that just bringing it up as nicely and fairly as possible–open, logic-based communication–is the best way to go about it. I especially think that far more couples need to discuss sex outside of sexual contexts, including boundaries, reciprocation, making advances, the importance of emotional and physical foreplay, etc.

      I know it’s exhausting, but it’s better than lying down and letting things go for the sake of keeping the peace, isn’t it? It might be worth it to schedule weekly “couple meetings” to sort out feelings, in which both air how they are feeling and suggest some solutions, so that women are not always given the onerous task of being the one to request “the talk.”

      And you mentioned your own reactions. That’s where looking at our own actions comes in. It sucks that both men and women must curtail our sexuality because of patriarchy, but it’s true; men need to make an effort not to objectify their partner’s body by talking to women and finding out what they are truly okay with (not what they say they are okay with to please their partners), and women need to question whether we are having/not having sex because we want to or because we think we should. We also have to question our submission in other ways, even if we have legitimate reasons to be fearful (I understand feeling afraid of a man’s anger). I agree that it sucks altogether having to do this sort of teaching work in a relationship, or having to feel afraid that our partners may abuse us, but I think it’s so necessary for the macro to work on the micro; and of course there is our personal happiness to consider. But yeah, I agree. It sucks having to take into account abusive gender dynamics when entering every relationship.

      As a side note, I think it’s important to see how men act as well as talk, when it comes to evaluating them. Do their actions support their words? Many men are happy to lie and say they are egalitarian and support women in order to get what they want (in order to grab that pussy). Questions about their beliefs about women (without revealing an agenda in the beginning) and an examination of how they live their life is paramount.

  • therealcie

    I had a male acquaintance try to “mansplain” that the scene from the Last Tango in Paris wasn’t really that bad because Maria Schneider wasn’t “actually raped.” It is true that there was no penetration, but she was, nonetheless, sexually assaulted. I surely would have been traumatized if someone had done such a thing to me.