Through male eyes

This this this. It’s not just the Harvey Weinsteins, it’s not just the actual men and their actual groping and raping. It’s also the sea they swim in: it’s the content. Kate Hardie knows.

The focus is quite rightly on the horrendous sexual abuse that Weinstein is alleged to have committed. But to focus on that alone is to miss the point that the portrayal of women – of their lives, their feelings, their sexuality and their bodies – is nearly always decided upon and filtered through male eyes. Nearly every actress will tell you about scripts that included scenes of female nudity that seem to have no apparent reason for being there and that are often degrading.

And quite a few women in the audience for such scripts will tell you the same thing.

You only have to turn on most police dramas to find the obligatory image of a battered, naked – but beautiful – young female corpse. (Apart from the ones written by Sally Wainwright: will someone please put Sally Wainwright in charge of everything for a while?) You don’t have to be talking about consent and abuse to be mortified by many female roles.

Second that. I love Sally Wainwright. In case you’re thinking “who?” – Scott and Bailey. Women have all the big parts, and they’re real women.

I am 49, so I do not get asked to be naked any more. (That is another thing the male-dominated industry is not keen on – women over 40 having any kind of satisfactory sex life or, indeed, bodies.) But when I was 17, I had become so used to being required to appear naked that I asked for a no-nudity clause to be written into a contract. I was fired by the male director because, despite there being no nudity in his script, he felt the clause curbed his creativity should he, on a whim, decide he needed me to remove my clothes. (This director, fittingly was given his break by Weinstein.)

Besides which, why is a woman even in the movie if she doesn’t take her clothes off? It’s not as if women ever do anything.

We proceeded to read the scripts; the room was full of women – a casting director and assistant director included. A male producer was reading out the stage directions, his voice hardly faltering in tone as he read out: “He rips open her shirt and we see her tits.”

When we finished, it was announced that anyone who wasn’t an executive producer, producer, writer, director or the director of photography had to leave so that those left behind could make important decisions. I watched as the room emptied of women.

While the men stayed in the room to decide when the women had to take their clothes off for the camera.

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