Girls Episode 9, Season 2: Tackling Sexual Politics Like No One Before
Something really fucking important happened in last night's episode of Girls. Women have been dealing forever with the parameters of rape -- what constitutes it, what validates it, and what makes a rape a rape.
The reason date rape happens so often, and goes unreported, is because sexual activity can quickly get weird and women are at times prone to blaming themselves for allowing intimacy go too far.
Last night's Girls addressed something that we've never seen
handled directly on television before: consensual sex that evolves into something that one partner doesn't want. It's not rape, technically, but it's something that perhaps almost all women will deal with at some point. On last night's Girls, Adam pushed boundaries with his current love interest -- a woman he met last week through a friend at AA -- and the results were horrible, yet very common.
It was established already that the two were sexually intimate. And it was established already that she was a willing sexual partner. But late in the episode, Adam -- after making his date crawl on all fours to the bed -- pushed his partner's boundaries by having sex with her from behind and then, against her will, ejaculating on her chest despite the fact that, during it all, she's telling him not to do it.
Afterwards, she quietly covers her body, before telling Adam "I, like, really didn't like that," stern and visibly disturbed. "I'm so sorry, I don't know what came over me," he says, looking for sympathy.
Having a scenario like this play out on mainstream television is huge. This is the type of thing that happens to women -- regardless of age or race or social standing -- all the time. And it seems there's not much she can do about it. Technically, it's not rape, so how can women feel victimized? How can they tell the world they were violated when no discernible laws were broken? How can you complain about saying "no" to specific sexual activities when you've already consented to sex?
Adam's date vocalizes her discomfort during the sex but he continues anyway, apparently lost in the moment. This one incident on Girls is so universal and so unspoken and so prevalent, that seeing it on television was incredible and revolutionary -- it makes us want to track down writer Lena Dunham and hug the crap out of her for putting it in the public consciousness.
We've already established that Adam isn't a bad guy. Fucked-up, yes, but not bad. It's hard seeing him behave like this because we like him. And that is precisely why, when women have to deal with sexual contact that she doesn't want, in an already sexual context, they don't always complain about it. Even to their closest friends.
The blurred lines that nobody ever speaks is not a small, inconsequential thing. It is something that male writers frequently do not understand, and female writers have had difficulty articulating previously. By having Adam's date's character articulate clearly what she likes and doesn't like in bed, earlier in the episode, Dunham is careful to lay the blame squarely on Adam.
Last night's Girls gave females everywhere a voice. Women -- especially young ones -- are violated and compromised all the time, yet even the strong ones cannot speak up about these seemingly small things that they are all expected to shrug off.
It's not a mistake that this episode was titled "On All Fours." Dunham seems to understand exactly what young women face every single day, and she appears to get how many feel unable to speak up about it.
We've loved Girls from the first episode, but last night's was arguably the most important episode to date. May it empower young women and educate young men, so that this is not the reality for everyone in the future.