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Minx: The Penis Parade Comes to HBO

By Lori Perkins

Let me just start this article by saying I was a young woman in the 70s (I remember trying to buy the issue of Cosmo with the Burt Reynolds centerfold but it WAS sold out everywhere), and the HBO show Minx perfectly captures the conflict of being a sex positive woman and a feminist during that time. I actually worked in magazine journalism (my internship was at Savvy Magazine, which was the working woman’s magazine founded by a bunch of New York Magazine feminists) and I was the new kid on the block trying to turn their attention to some of the sexual issues of the time (they passed on publishing Candace Bushnell, who I pulled out of the slush pile). So this show spoke to me!

Of course the set up is more of a fictional sit-com than a biopic. It revolves around Joyce, who has always dreamed of starting a feminist magazine more like Ms., but the only publisher she can get is Doug, who runs a highly successful chain of porn and fetish magazines, who offered to back her, if she adds naked men. Of course, Joyce is a bit of a prude, as I can attest were many of the real-life feminists of that time (but IMHO, looking back on things it was because they had had so much personal #MeToo experience and no place to talk about it – this generation is so much better equipped to deal with toxic masculinity, thanks to their mothers), so she has a hard time accepting that part of feminism is the freedom for women to have their own gaze and enjoy it!

And that brings us to the penis parade, which is unprecedented in TV history, as far as I know. Sure, we’ve had a dick or two in Game of Thrones and a few other places, usually a side shot or a catch-it-if-you-can glimpse in a waterfall, shower or getting out of bed scene, but Minx gives us an entire 60 seconds of 18 dick portraits (and according to the NY Times they were “curated” to ensure that the manscaping was accurate to the 70s – I just love that detail!) for the casting scene. Talk about empowerment! And the female gaze!

Back to Joyce’s prudery, which so many reviewers have commented on. I am hoping that as this 10-part series unwinds, we learn that Joyce is actually asexual or demi-sexual, which this generation has finally taught us is OK too.

Right now, there are only two episodes of the show available, but I have a feeling this is going to be an important but fun piece of television history.

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