An actress goes to an audition. She wants the part — she likes the part. She spoke up about it. More unusual still, the men unequivocally agreed with her, promising to change the oversight. My God, we can't begin to argue with her about this. Director Coralie Fargeat inverts the male gaze in horror movie "Revenge. Hollywood must now reconcile with its larger contributions to our toxic sexual culture.
For decades, sex on screen has stripped women of their agency, blurred the lines of consent, and treated women as objects of male desire rather than as people. And we see the effects of those attitudes in just about every real-life MeToo story. Pop culture needs a sexual revolution. And to get there, we need open and honest dialogues about portrayals of sex, more women — particularly women of color and of the LGBTQ community — in positions of power, sex scenes grounded in their perspectives, and an end to using sex as commodity rather than an exploration of humanity.
Women are not responsible for changing the portrayals of sex in media, especially on sexual violence. To her, MeToo not only helped these creators feel more comfortable writing about their trauma, but also made Hollywood more willing to fund their stories — and listen to their critiques.
In a recent New Yorker article , Molly Ringwald wrestled with the legacy of director John Hughes, who made her career with The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink — movies which all portray sexual assault, implied date rape, and stalking as the harmless fun of naturally entitled men. Given that people now are very aware, how does this come across? Yes, that's the famed vibrator from "Masters of Sex. Elaine from "The Love Witch" casting her love spells.
Elaine managing sexual politics in the bedroom. Cinema in the s was chock full of depictions of multi-faceted women — but only so men could reconcile with what Freud called the Madonna-whore complex , a concept that reduces women to objects of either love or desire.
But it can serve as a mirror. And right now it reflects age-old gender norms: For women of color, gender norms are only one part of the problem. Mel Jones, creator of the web series Leimert Park, which follows the lives and sexscapades of three young black women, pointed to the painful in-between space they occupy, denied support from people who are of their race but not their gender like black men , and those who are of their gender but not their race like white women.
We're either objects of physical violence or portrayed as having no sexual life. For example, Jones frequently struggles with casting her projects, specifically because they feature sex scenes between black women and men. Because after they do, they feel like they've been cheapened. Because that's how any of us know these things. Homegrown Pictures and Macro For a long time, people disregarded critiques of sex scenes with questionable consent i.
Public perception cast these dissenters as overzealous feminists. But progress necessitates reexamination of our most unconscious habits. Masters of Sex explores the same topic, while giving the consequences women suffer from even consensual workplace sex proper weight. Better sex for everyone The question of what happens to sex on screen after MeToo has been answered crudely before, suggesting a sexless world where sex scenes are eradicated altogether. For example, Masters of Sex centers around sex much more than Game of Thrones.
But Game of Thrones, with source material written by a man and adapted by two male showrunners, is loudly criticized for its gratuitous female nudity and questionable depictions of rape. Thrones uses sex to manipulate the audience into paying attention, while Masters embeds sex into the fabric of its plot, character development, and emotional arcs. The biggest weakness she saw was sex as a replacement for substance. Diana Gabaldon, the writer behind the Outlander novels and Starz adaptation, literally wrote the book on how to write good sex scenes.
Which is why people tend to use it gratuitously. But Gabaldon purposefully shows the ebbs and flows, their sex evolving throughout 15 years of marriage. Claire and Jamie embrace in "Outlander. Because showing only one perspective sounds a lot like masturbation. In reality, what makes sex sexy is the exchange between people: A call for more nuanced depictions of sex is not an argument just for women. Better sex scenes benefit everyone, Ashford posited.
The sex was not always sexy on "Masters of Sex. Despite pushback, though, starring actor Michael Sheen fought to include the storyline. Each instance of sex or nudity was discussed, and changes were made if they raised concerns. One standout scene in The Love Witch features a tea parlor absolutely drenched in unapologetic femininity.
In a certain light, the protagonist, Elaine, can be seen as an embodiment of male fantasy. But Biller despises this interpretation, considering Elaine an amalgamation of her own fantasies. This is all part of what Biller calls the need for more feminine subjectivity on screen. Her advice for other women seeking to create work like Leimert Park is simple, though hard to achieve: That's where I had to start.
The work has only just begun Sexual representation in popular media is improving. While nuanced representations of cis, straight, white women are increasing, there is still only a small pool of well-known women of color and LGBTQ creators. Why are they so deeply, profoundly uncomfortable?
Jones remains optimistically cautious. She awaits proof that this new wave will break the cycle, rather than replicate a new one.