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Jill Soloway Talks About Why We Need a “Female Gaze” in Art

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Jill Soloway, creator of “Transparent” and the new Amazon show “I Love Dick” hasn’t been shy about wanting to reinvent and change the way women are portrayed in popular art.

In a recent interview, Soloway and “I Love Dick” co-executive producer Sarah Gubbins talked about the female gaze, a reaction to the “male gaze,” a term first used by film critic Laura Mulvey in 1975. It, of course, aptly describes how art is often made for men, with male pleasure in mind. But both Soloway and Gubbins wants to change that, and create art for the female eye. Gubbins told Cosmopolitan:

“I think a lot of women when they’re having sex for the first few years, they’re in their head going, ‘Do I look like the girl in the magazine? Am I doing it right? Am I arching my back right? What would a good orgasm look like? I better fake it because I know I’ll be able to make it pretty if I fake it.”

Soloway added:

“Yeah! Do I have the right to talk? Do I have the right to want? Do I have a right to create art? Even the audacity to desire to be an artist is affected by the male gaze. 

[Part of the Male Gaze] is men supporting each other in discounting women and picking them off one at a time and playing two on one, or monkey in the middle with women. Well, we’re saying, no. We’re linking arms and saying, ‘Hold on a second.’ To mix metaphor between childhood games and monkey in the middle and red rover, red rover. Well we’re going, ‘Red rover, red rover, fuck you.'”

It’s about time, isn’t it? Female sexuality in particular isn’t delved into nearly enough. Take the fact that Natalie Portman’s lesbian scene in “Black Swan” was such a big deal. This remains kind of ridiculous to me, to be quite honest—even Portman admits that it tokenized lesbian sexuality:

“Everyone was so worried about who was going to want to see this movie. I remember them being like, ‘How do you get guys to a ballet movie? How do you get girls to a thriller? The answer is a lesbian scene. Everyone wants to see that.”

Women are either portrayed as sexless mothers, or overly sexualized nymphs. What about the in-between? What about real life? This goes beyond the Bechdel test–this is what women want–to be portrayed as complicated, complex humans.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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