March 25, 2017


Future Women's History Month: Jill Soloway's Patriarchy-Toppling Mission

Todd Williamson/Getty Images
Todd Williamson/Getty Images

Fuse is celebrating Women's History Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Women's History before our eyes. Today we pay tribute to Jill Soloway, the Transparent creator whose 2016 Emmy acceptance speech concluded with, "Topple the patriarchy! Topple the patriarchy!" 

That's a phrase you're apt to see any day on the internet; it was a whole other thing for Soloway to shout it on one of live national TV's major award ceremonies. But following the celebrated 2014 premiere of Transparent, Soloway shot from being someone who'd written/produced for a few shows (Six Feet Under, United States of Tara) and written/directed the indie film Afternoon Delight to being someone with an über-sought-after fearless perspective. And they (Soloway uses the gender-neutral pronoun) are happy to oblige.

Yet Soloway knows their knowledge isn't consummate. While the Amazon TV dramedy is inspired by their parent's transgender coming-out at age 75, they have acknowledged the tricky learning process of telling trans stories all along the way. "The time has come where it’s unacceptable for cis men to play trans women," was the perspective Soloway ended up landing on in 2016, as Season 3 arrived, while acknowledging that the show was built around Jeffrey Tambor starring as transgender protagonist of Maura. They went on, speaking to Vulture:

"At this point, as a feminist, I’m getting tired of white cis men writing about sex workers. I’m getting tired of white cis men portraying rape. I’m getting tired of white cis men naming the narrative, telling their own stories, playing the parts of women, playing the parts of trans women, casting each other as women. For me as a feminist, I feel like it’s time to return the gaze and ask white cis men to curtail their projections and to curtail their portrayals of people that they aren’t."

Soloway has won two Emmys for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series; Transparent has gotten two Outstanding Comedy Series nominations but no wins yet. Season 4 will arrive this fall. 

Before that comes I Love Dick, another Amazon program that will follow "a struggling married couple, Chris and Sylvere, and their obsession with a charismatic professor named Dick." It'll star Kevin Bacon and Soloway's Afternoon Delight star (and Transparent supporting actress) Kathryn Hahn; Soloway hopes "some red state daughters" will idly check it out and inadvertently "grow this radical feminist sleeper cell.” I Love Dick's mission, as the 1997 Chris Kraus novel's was, is largely to conduct itself from that aforementioned, sorely underrepresented female gaze. Last month at the MAKERS Conference, Soloway told their audience:

"What if all humans equally understood ourselves as viewer and viewed, what would this holy balance look like? Because for the coming resistance—the revolution, the evolution―we all get to be as comfortable and grounded as we can to do whatever it takes to see more, worry about how we look less, to emulate male privilege if we need to, so that we can march all day and scale walls all night."

I Love Dick will hit Amazon on May 12.

We're celebrating Future Women's History all month long! Tune in to Fuse and come back to every day for profiles, videos and more. Find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder.