Girls Episode 9, Season 2: Tackling Sexual Politics Like No One Before

Categories: TV

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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?

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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.


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4 comments
sirdarkstar
sirdarkstar

Probably the best write up on this I've seen.  I think it was unacceptable, but it raises many questions which I think was the intent.  If this was submitted as video evidence into court would Adam be found guilty of rape? (I think there are legitimate questions of law so I don't think it is clear cut either way)  And if not, should he be?  And should Natalia (in answer to duckman556's question) have a voice in that?  And to what extent? (by this I mean that I can imagine cases where the trauma of some situation might cause real victims to excuse their abuser so I don't think we necessarily shouldn't punish someone just because the victim excuses it - but we need to establish victimization somehow).

I do know that the way we reach conclusions is by having meaningful conversations combined with careful study.

Karabella Ctree
Karabella Ctree

Wow was all I could say last night after watching the episode. It was a real sticky situation that Natalia found herself in but she could have said no and left. Also, I thought I remembered her saying, "No...not on the dress". That's totally different from saying "No...stop doing what you're doing". Either way, it sucked for her in the end and I felt horribly for her. I think seeing Hannah after so long triggered something to pop up in Adam. They shared that kind of "intimacy" and I think he misses it. I'm probably going to catch a lot of crap for saying the above but whatever. That's just my opinion.

duckman556
duckman556

Sounds okay (I *am* wondering what's non-technical about jizz), but what's the lady's actual name? "Adam's date's character" seems a little hokey in this whole overblown revelatory context you've swaddled around the show. Pretty sure they mentioned her name. 

sarahannelloyd
sarahannelloyd

I'm glad you addressed this, but if a lady wants to stop midway through and the dude doesn't stop, it's still rape; there's no "technically not" about it.

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