2019 Reading List: She Wants It by Jill Soloway

When you have a story to tell that’s this colorful and radical, where do you start?

Do you start with your family and drop right into the moment where your father reveals he’s trans? Or how about your successful career in television? Or do you go back a little further and start with the less successful years working on various TV shows? What about your children, born to two different fathers, 14 years apart? Or your later divorce to your husband? Or maybe you just start up front with the story about how you became a lesbian. You might want to start with your white privilege though. Or what about your fight for women’s rights? LGBTQ+ rights? Human rights?

The memoir, She Wants It, by Jill Soloway, covered all of these hot button topics and more.

In the full title, She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy, I find it interesting that she decides to name her vendetta “the patriarchy.” While reading this book, it fully resonated with me, but looking back on it, I almost think the term is too narrow to apply to what Jill actually wants. The term patriarchy brings to mind male power and male government. But Jill takes issue with so much more. There are so many other aspects of society that she feels are wrong. Of course patriarchy and male power is number one, as she relates her struggles in her career primarily to the fact that men have had power since the beginning of time. But Jill is making her career out of more than just feminism. She is making her career out of bringing voices to those who have been silenced. Anyone, not just women. People who identify as LGBTQ. People who are discriminated against because of who they love, even though it’s no one’s business. Jill’s position of “toppling the patriarchy” feels big and important, but actually she’s after something so much bigger. She’s after real change.

Jill Soloway is a TV writer and director, who created the Amazon show, Transparent. I, who cut the cable cord and “share” only Netflix with my in-laws,  have never heard of this show. I have never heard of Jill Soloway. And honestly, I think that made her memoir that much better. I was reading about how she ideated the pilot script, pitched the concept, curated the writing team and cast, and I didn’t have any pre-conceived notions of what that looked like. Her life was not tainted by my opinion of a certain episode. I got to read about her thoughts, watch her process these big moments of her life, see how they influenced her creativity and her work.

At the end of the book, I was not expecting it to take a turn into the #MeeToo movement, but I guess I should have seen it coming. All Jill did was talk about feminism, “topping the patriarchy,” women and minorities’ representation in Hollywood. It all came to a head in real life and of course Jill would get caught up in this as well. I was happy that she wasn’t one of the women who came forward, but I appreciated her honesty about her reactions when she realized it was still affecting her show.

This book was a quick read. Jill has a fast-paced, conversational, story-telling style that pulls you in and keeps you hooked on every sentence waiting for what happened next. She doesn’t get caught up in the details, but tells you just what you need to know to keep you captivated with her life story. I feel that I got her take on these parts of her life that she wrote about, and yet, I still don’t feel like I know her that deeply. It was one of those books.

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