We shouldn’t be afraid of showing empowering female sexuality in films – it’s important

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There was a bit of an eye-catching commotion recently concerning Batman and his sexual preferences – specifically around an oral sex scene involving the caped crusader and Catwoman. There was a suggestion from creatives working on a new Harley Quinn cartoon that perhaps Batman might enjoy giving oral sex, and DC Entertainment responded with a sharp slap, stating “Heroes don’t do that”. Well, possibly. But I beg to differ, more of which later.

That Batman won’t go there story resulted in some fun memes, as I’m sure you can imagine. But it also played into an old theme in filmmaking, particularly Hollywood filmmaking, that is characterised by an aversion to showing female sexual pleasure. It has long been known that the Motion Picture Association of America, which assess films for classification, are reluctant to allow such acts of oral sex to be seen or even implied without giving the film a box office-killing mature rating. And yet male characters receiving such attention onscreen are abound. You can’t move for blow job references in some genres. Shouldn’t we be addressing this? And what it says about us?

I have just written a film about a woman in her older years discovering how to ask for and receive what she wants, sexually speaking, for the first time. It will star Emma Thompson as the woman in question, who hires a young male sex worker for a night of bliss. I wrote the film without being consciously aware of what was influencing it. But now as I look at it with a bit of distance, I can see an old inspiration for some of the scenes that are both intimate and tender, and based on a growing friendship: Dirty Dancing, the 1987 film starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, contains one of the greatest seduction scenes of all time.