AUSTIN, TX. — Jill Soloway wants people to feel what the world would be like in a post-matriarchal revolution — and she thinks virtual reality can help.
Soloway, creator and director of Amazon’s hit show “Transparent,” gave a keynote speech Saturday at SXSW in Austin, where she talked about the lack of women in director roles.
Midway through her speech, Soloway asked the men in the room to stand up for a “thought experiment.” She cycled through photos showing men in roles that women traditionally have in society and talked them through that experience — for example, she told men that “your body and your desire and attractiveness are demanded but also blamed,” or, how all the songs on the radio seem to be “about how beautiful you are.”
“You can get into a heap of trouble if you don’t navigate your desirability correctly,” Soloway told the men. “If you navigate it incorrectly, there’s a word for what you are, guys. That word is slut. You have mismanaged your desirability.”
Soloway, an activist for feminism and transgender rights, ran through the same exercise with the women in the room to show them what it would be like growing up and living in a matriarchal world.
“Women, you own these men’s bodies, your desire and their desire,” she said. “And you know what else you own? Sunday’s. On Sunday’s you take over the TV room and you watch stadiums full of women watching other women compete … sometimes men are there, and they are on the sidelines cheering and when they kick really high you can see their underwear.”
Later on, Soloway was asked if she was doing any work with virtual reality technology.
“I want this thing that I just showed you to be in virtual reality,” she said. “I want to make a virtual reality world where you put the thing on and if you’re female you can feel what it’s like to be male and if you’re male, what it feels like to be female. It would be amazing, right? A whole world where there’s a post-matriarchal revolution gender switch, and you can move through the world feeling like the seer and the seen.”
Soloway said Amazon, which produces “Transparent” — which has won numerous Emmy and Golden Globe Awards — has a virtual reality department.
“They are totally up for it,” she said. “We are working on it.”
The director’s newest project, I Love Dick, debuts on Amazon in May.