“GIRLS” Mirrors Feminist Dystopia?
Does HBO’s Girls reflect a feminist dystopia?
Some think so. With the fall of patriarchy the world changed … but nobody knew what to do next. And Girls reflects the disjoint. So writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times.
Prophylactics and graduate degrees and gender equality are supposed to lead smoothly to health, wealth and high-functioning relationships. (Yet) the characters’ sex lives were not remotely “safe”; they were porn-haunted and self-destructive, a mess of S.T.D. fears and dubiously consensual incidents and sudden marriages and stupid infidelities.
The problem is feminism? Or a failure of complete equality?
Many problems the girls face actually stem from incomplete equality.
It’s not like porn, STDs, rape, and sexual objectification didn’t exist before feminism.
Yes, Girls has scenes where a man’s satisfaction is primary and where women are dealing with sexual assault. But these are actually signs that we still live in patriarchy, where women are objectified and where men rape to feel a sense of dominance and superiority.
The show is a feminist critique, showing we still need change.
You can be anything but you don’t know how
Other lamentations are indeed connected to greater equality and opportunity.
In Girls, as Mr. Douthat explains, “the professional world was mostly a series of dead ends and failed experiments.” At one time Hannah admits that she almost wishes she had AIDS because then she wouldn’t have to try to figure out how to be successful.
Opportunity does indeed bring fear of failure and actual failure. For both women and men.
But many of the problems Mr. Douthat describes are problems of age, not equality.
Mostly the male sex seemed adrift, permanently boyish, a bundle of hormonal impulses leagues away from any kind of serious and potent manhood.
The girls themselves were all, to varying degrees, antiheroic: self-destructive and narcissistic.
I can relate. As I’ve explained before, I always knew what to do — until college graduation when suddenly I faced a void — and little direction.
Like the “Girls” I made unwise choices. And I experienced failure before finding where my interests and abilities lay.
But I also learned a lot. As has the real-life Lena Dunham who writes, produces and stars in the show. Nowadays she’s even in a stable relationship.
In today’s more gender-equal world I do see confusion, pain, suffering and messed up lives. But I also see plenty of people rising out of it, a bit older, wiser and fulfilled.
And then there’s that old truism: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.