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Geek Girl on Hollywood: On the 'American Gods' gay sex scene

The Starz show's third episode has sparked lots of talk about representation. We want to talk about equal opportunity nudity.
American Gods
A sex scene between Salim (Omid Abtahi) and Djinn (Mousa Kraish) has become the center of some great discussions recently. Credit: Starz

So many articles have been written about the recent gay sex scene in the third episode of “American Gods.” I just wanted to add my two cents.

My two cents, by the way, are coming from a straight white woman, and they should be taken in that context. My horse in this race is connected to the way women vs. men are portrayed in sex scenes. I will leave it to those who are part of the LGBTQ community and the Middle Eastern community to make the incredibly important points about how this scene, between the characters Salim (Omid Abtahi) and Djinn (Mousa Kraish), affects them. All I can add with any authority is the angle that affects me personally: equal opportunity nudity.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller spoke about how Starz required equal opportunity nudity, something we’ve seen in shows like “Spartacus,” “Black Sails” and “Power.” One wouldn’t think this should be a radical thing, but the way sex has been portrayed throughout the history of television (and film and video games, etc.), it is.

If you ever wanted evidence that the greater part of entertainment is focused on the straight male gaze, all you have to do is consider any series that shows nudity. “Game of Thrones,” for instance? When it has male nudity, it’s usually when that part of the body is suffering some sort of harm. Couldn’t possibly make that sexual, could we? Then look again at how so many scenes feature naked women just as background decoration. Nudity is fine in my book, as I’ve said many times. The way it’s focused almost exclusively on pleasing straight men is not.

We see this over and over again. Go ahead and put your favorite films or TV shows to this test. Whose nudity did you see? I’m not talking about butts here. Whose actual naughty bits were put on display? How often is it the woman you see completely naked but not the man?

For the angle I’m covering here, I’ll say this: We’re told, as women, that our bodies are objects and that the straight male gaze is far more important than our own. We’re told we aren’t supposed to want to see these things, but it’s fine because guys do and we’re here to please them. The fact that Starz has taken this step, acknowledging that straight white men are not the only people who appreciate sexuality and want to see their own represented, is encouraging.

Follow Jenna Busch on Twitter @jennabusch and visit her site, Legion of Leia

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