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Title Jabe Babe: A Heightened Life / Director: Merewether, Janet
Published Australia : SBS ONE, 2005
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Description 1 online resource (streaming video file) (51 min. 48 sec.) ; 312617295 bytes
Summary This program explores the personal and medical experiences of Jabe Babe, who measures 188cm (6ft 2inches in the old money) and has a life threatening genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome. Jabe works and lives on the margins, defying society's expectations of the "normal" feminine body and sexuality.Marfan Syndrome is a connective tissue disorder that weakens the "glue" in the body, resulting in a very distinctive physical and medical profile. It is one of the most common but least publicly known genetic disorders, affecting a least one in three thousand people, regardless of race or gender, and is usually fatal if left undiagnosed. Due to the threat of an aortic aneurism, Jabe underwent open heart surgery at the age of 17. She was fitted with an artificial valve in her aorta, which required her to be monitored regularly, and to take blood thinning medication for the rest of her life.Until the age of six, Jabe lived with her schizophrenic mother, Philomena. She was taken away by government welfare authorities due to her mother's incapacity to provide adequate care. Jabe spent the next ten years passing through a succession of foster families. Her contact with Philomena was restricted to sporadic supervised visits in welfare offices. During her childhood, Jabe's treatment for Marfan Syndrome varied depending on the foster family, and her body was regarded as an interesting "specimen" for medical professionals to examine. Jabe's childhood was marked by instability and neglect. Along with the physical manifestations of Marfan Syndrome, these experiences have affected Jabe's capacity for intimate relationships, and the choices of work available to her.Told the she would died by the age of 25, Jabe has lived her life intensely, without plans. For the last seven years she has had a successful career as a dominatrix, a profession that has allowed her to use her height and insights into power and powerlessness to great advantage. Recently, she has been less satisfied with her choice of career due to the repetition and banality of her clients' sexual fantasies. As well, Jabe has met a new partner, and realises that her work as a dominatrix may interfere with the success of this relationship.In a medical consultation with Marfan Syndrome specialist, Dr Lesley Ades, Jabe discovers that due to advances in medical technology there is every likelihood that she may have a normal life expectancy and that the medical information on which she has based her life in now incorrect. At 31-years of age, with the realisation that she now has a future Jabe takes the first steps to plan her life. Jabe has all the usual aspirations to lead a happy, healthy life; however she encounters difficulties in translating her hard earned professional skills into the language of the job marketplace. The realities of adjusting to poor pay and the daily work grind, on top of the physical restrictions of Marfan Syndrome and her unresolved relationship with her mother, bring frustration. However, her humour and strength of character allow her to move forward.Dr Ades informs Jabe that with the latest techniques of pre-implantation diagnosis, and the option of surrogacy, she would be able to have a "normal" child. However, Jabe rejects the idea of genetic screening, and poses the question of whether genetic perfection is a guarantee of a perfect life anyway. Are people like herself, who live in different kinds of bodies, less valid, less acceptable than others? (Commissioned by SBS Independent, in English)
Event Broadcast 2010-03-17 at 01:15:00
Notes Classification: M
Subject Marfan syndrome -- Genetic aspects.
Sexual dominance and submission in motion pictures.
Form Streaming video
Author Babe, Jabe, contributor
Merewether, Janet, director