By Aubrey Woodward
No Love for Fuckboys explores the intricacies of surviving sexual assault and the possibility of what happens afterwards. Ricardo Bouyett – artist, cinematographer, and filmmaker – created the film as a response to his own sexual assault experience. It is a film about healing, any way you know how. Separated into seven chapters and set to spoken word poetry that Bouyett wrote himself, it explores themes of sex, love and relationships through dance, color and monologue.
As it moves through the different phases of trauma response, it starts with detachment. The inability to find yourself in one place with one person. The isolation that comes after an assault, whether it is self-imposed or forced. The loneliness. The way it feels to long for love. The viewer watches a woman as she tries to call her friends, desiring anybody to talk to. The viewer watches as she is left alone, forced to confront her isolation. “Keep me in the company of ghosts,” she whispers. “I want to be held by the ether of their past and sustained by the promise of my future.”
“It took down a wall for me,” a man describes the act of losing his virginity in the woods and the way it shapes his view of sex. It changed him, made him view sex as a way of feeling emotion, as having power over someone else. It’s a simple concept. Bouyett depicts it beautifully as a conversation between two friends, one asking for stories from the other who she considers more adventurous. Her friend responds with his sex story but it morphs into something more as he describes his goals and the way the man who took his virginity mocked him afterwards, wanted him sexually but ignored everything else. It’s oddly disconcerting, starting out as playful banter and ending with the determination to prove others wrong.
The film explores the terror and forms of roadblock intimacy a survivor finds themselves feeling. The way that you might want to be loved but find that you can’t, want to love back but find that you can’t. There are too many obstacles in your way. There are things you know that your lover doesn’t. There is the way you have been loved before. “If you’re going to ruin me, do it in a way that he hasn’t already,” Bouyett writes. It is hard to imagine you could be loved after experiencing something so violent. The finality of the situation is very apparent. Bouyett beautifully matches this feeling with scenes of a dance, two lovers attempting intimacy but hitting that roadblock over and over again. “This is my last love,” one of them repeats.
The concept of hypersexuality tends to be shied away from. But it is a way some survivors choose to cope. Bouyett chose to portray it as a way to hold himself accountable for the behavior he engaged in after his own assault. After an assault, one can become almost obsessed with replacing their rapist with something else. It’s a complicated feeling. Some survivors see their worth in sex, others see power. “Illuminate the dark corners of my night with digital lights pulsating with the names of men I’ve pushed out through my veins,” a woman sighs, “Tell me I’m pretty.” It’s haunting, beautiful and tremor inducing at the same time. This is one of the first honest examples I’ve seen of this concept within film.
The film ties the past and present together intimately, and the most amazing aspect of this is that Bouyett portrays it without words. The viewer watches a man as he starts to have sex and continuously ‘wakes up’ to no one being there, over and over until he is standing alone in his room wondering what happened. Is his partner a memory? An ex? A nightmare? Whatever it is leaves a vague sense of both empty and overflowing. It’s a juxtaposition between the comfort and pain, survival and healing.
The many layered approach to a depiction of sexual assault is something new. These men and women are somehow the same person. All of them are surviving their own way. “It's all cyclical,” Bouyett writes on his website, “the names and the faces change, but it's always the same dance.” And it’s a beautiful dance. One that could only be told by someone who has experienced and survived it.