Wasn’t it only last week that Lena Dunham was the Internet’s favorite body-positive darling? When she calmly responded to a television critic who objected to the presence of her insufficiently titillating body, she was lauded in a hundred feminist think pieces championing her rejection of television’s no-thigh policy. But apparently all that good will was shot when she had the audacity to have the bags under her eyes digitally removed. The horror!
After Dunham’s rather pretty Vogue spread was published on Wednesday, Jezebel posted a $10,000 bounty for the release of the unretouched photos. Was it because they didn’t believe she could look that glam? Of course not! Was it because they thought she’d look heavier in the originals? Certainly no! Was it because Dunham haters would flock to Jezebel in order to see unflattering images? Never! See, Jezebel was just trying to attack the harsh beauty standards propagated by the fashion industry and promote body acceptance. Clearly, because nothing screams “love yourself!” like pointing tiny arrows at the “flaws” in a woman’s face and figure. Continue reading “Leave Lena Dunham Alone!”
Remember when Hannah Horvath’s manuscript was rejected because no one cares about female friendship? Her editor told her that she should instead write a book called A Year on My Back featuring tales of bad sex with college kids. So that’s exactly what came to mind when I saw that Periel Aschenbrand had published a book called On My Knees. It’s pretty much the same title. And then Salon published a chapter of the book wherein the buxom young memoirist talks about wanting to screw that legendary bag of douche known as Phillip Roth. And, I was like, yay male fantasy? Now, I’m very pro-sex. In fact, I’m pro-promiscuous sex. So I’m completely in favor of women writing about their sexual adventures with as much detail and aplomb as generations of literary manwhores. But when I look at a shelf of recent female memoirs and every single one is about either sex, eating, or walking, I can’t help but wonder if women are allowed to write about anything that’s not a basic bodily function.
But then I actually read Aschenbrand’s book—in about two hours because it’s REALLY short—and I realized that it’s not just about sex. In fact, there’s almost no actual sex in this book—unless you count her unfortunate encounter with a hairy Canadian who ejaculates on her couch (i.e., the worst type of Canadian). The book’s title isn’t even a BJ reference. It’s the universe that brings her to her knees after she endures a particularly rough breakup. So this isn’t a tale of lusty conquest so much as an account of one woman getting her shit together—with the help of her emotionally-scarred friend and her pushy mother. Point being, this is basically a book about female relationships marketed as Tropic of Cancer. Point being, publishing is the worst. Continue reading “Let’s Not Just Talk About Sex”
If you had previously asked me what you would get if you removed all of the misogyny from Woody Allen’s films, I would have guessed Diane Keaton saying “la di da” in a tie. But, thankfully, I was wrong: you get Frances Ha. While attempting to pinpoint the origin of my current obsession with this Noah Baumbach/Greta Gerwig creation, I came up with the following possibilities: perhaps it’s because the film perfectly captures that particular brand of depression that arises when you return to your college campus as an adult and pretend not to be that much older than the undergraduates, only to realize that you are SO much older than the undergraduates. Perhaps it’s because so many white finance guys are EXACTLY like that (i.e., nice enough, but you know they’ll sleep with your babysitter one day). Perhaps it’s because the film recognizes that, yes, at some point you have to get a real job involving far too many spreadsheets. But, more than anything, it’s because Frances Ha is a comedy about a woman that isn’t concerned with her relationship status. So Frances Ha doesn’t just pass the Bechdel Test. It basically IS the Bechdel Test. Continue reading “Dancing On My Own”
I learned a few important lessons from the second season of Girls: (1) Inventing an app will not only make a man wealthy but also inexplicably hotter and better at giving head; (2) E-Book editors enjoy quoting Tennessee Williams but hate reading about “Jane Austen type” friendships; (3) And when all of your female friends desert you, you should just wait for fun. to start playing, and a shirtless white knight will sprint through the streets of Brooklyn and break down a door simply for the pleasure of holding you. Female friendships, I’ve learned, are so 2012. Continue reading “Bros Before Hoes”
While discussing the now infamous Girls episode “One Man’s Trash” with a group of 23-year-old girls who currently live in Bushwick, I heard the following critiques: the episode seemed out of place, it wasn’t funny, it felt like a slap in the face to an audience who really wants to hear Shoshanna say a few funny lines about emogees. Now that I’ve reached the ripe old age of 30, I feel that I can confidently say that these girls are simply wrong. The episode is distinct both structurally and tonally from the rest of the series, but this distinction is meant to startle the audience—to wake us up.
The episode opens with Hannah and Ray standing near a sign that reads “Don’t Ever Sleep Again.” As we follow them inside the coffee shop, Ray quickly gets into a screaming match with pretty, pretty Patrick Wilson over trash that hasn’t been put in its proper place. These two narrative signposts—sleep and trash—mark Hannah’s descent into a fantasy world of comfort and maturity before she returns to her discontented young adulthood. I’m not taking part in the is-Hannah-hot-enough-to-sleep with-Patrick-Wilson debate because (a) it’s stupid and (b) it also fails to take into account the way in which Wilson represents uncomplicated beauty—the type of beauty Hannah has previously resisted. To write Josh (I’m sorry, Joshua) off as a perfect brownstone ken doll is to miss the larger point that the attractive life he represents is ultimately revealed to be as hollow as Hannah’s claims that she is special because she is able to “feel so much.” On both sides of the 24/42 divide, we find loneliness, vulnerability, and a sense that something nameless is missing. Hannah tries a bit harder to name it but ultimately ends up taking out the trash and walking away. Continue reading “Sleeping it Off”