The Affair Stars Have A Good Point About Male O-Faces

Photo: Steven Lippman/SHOWTIME.
Over the past year, we finally turned a corner when it comes to the portrayal of sex on television. Shows like Outlander recontextualized the act, removing it from its usual male gaze-oriented framing, focusing on female pleasure and sex scenes that made sense within the narrative. We've still got miles to go, though, when it comes to equal opportunity sexing on TV. Ruth Wilson, who stars in Showtime's The Affair, explained why in a new interview with Net-a-Porter's The Edit. 

"Of course, in The Affair, you have to have sex scenes; that’s a major part of the relationship," Wilson told The Edit. "But it was about making it as interesting and important as the rest of it. I argue this stuff all the time; that these scenes need to be real and they need to have a narrative as much as any other scene. They can’t be purely titillation. They need to move the story forward and the characters forward." 

Wilson and her costar Dominic West would carefully discuss every sex scene between their characters, making sure it was necessary. It was important to them that they use choreography within the scene to communicate their characters' motivation and current mental states. 

There's still a major barrier to overcome, though, purely from a standards and practices perspective. "I have a big concern about how women are treated in the industry generally, and how they have to provide the titillation because penises can’t be seen on screen but breasts can. It’s assumed that women will get their breasts out, and have to get their breasts out, and I balk at that," Wilson said.

And when it comes to the big climax, the actress has a crucial point: "Why have I always got to do the orgasm face? There should be a male orgasm face. Why is it always the woman who’s orgasming? Let’s analyze the male orgasm. Why aren’t we thinking about that a bit more?" 

No really, why aren't we? The only TV show currently addressing this issue is The League, and that's in a crass, mocking way. We need to rebrand "vinegar strokes" for the good of society. Let's all band together and demand to see more male o-faces. Jamie on Outlander can lead the charge. (The Edit)

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