Jill Soloway knows how to fix all the problems in Hollywood, it's just time for Hollywood to listen. The Transparent creator spoke at The Wing in NYC's Soho neighbourhood on Monday night in conversation with comedian Hannah Gadsby to promote their new book, She Wants It. Soloway's exploration of gender and consent is especially interesting when viewed through the lense of entertainment. Movies and TV, Soloway pointed out, have a duty to portray sex responsibly, and its failure to do so thus far is a contributing factor to our complicated relationship with it.
"Somebody asked me today in my serious radio tour, how do you try to make the female gaze instead of the male gaze?" they said to a packed audience. "What we have been watching our whole lives on television and in movies is one of the symptoms of the male gaze: They have been editing out our consent."
By this, Soloway means a typical movie or TV sex scene follows a formula that does not put any importance on the part of sex that's about asking questions and discussing what is and isn't expected.
"We imagine in our minds...two people catching each other's eye across a crowded room, they move toward each other, maybe they do or maybe they don't start making out, we pop to the bedroom where they're amidst it, and then we pop to afterwards where they have the sheets pulled up to their chests and they're smoking," they explained. "The important moments, the benchmarks, the turning points, the elbows in the scene where one person looks to the other and says, 'Are we going to the next beat?' are never portrayed and have never been portrayed for us. It helps straight cis men in their own protagonism to remind us repeatedly that our consent doesn't matter."
However, if more mainstream movies and TV shows did include these moments, the cultural perception of what sex is would shift to include the consent we're currently fighting for.
"What if we don’t have sex with people at work?" Soloway suggested. "We don’t talk about sex at work, and we don’t touch people at work. Just to try it. I don’t know if it’s going to work. But you just check before you give somebody a hug."
She Wants It is out now.
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.