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Monday, March 27, 2017

Lena Dunham Asks: Are You An "American Bitch"?

This blog is about an episode on HBO's television show "Girls" - Season 6, Episode 3, called "American Bitch." Get the episode recap here.

The difference between an artist and most people is that most people try to make themselves look good.

Lena Dunham is an artist, and her gift shows up in the unparalleled honesty she brings to HBO's "Girls."

Yesterday I watched an episode of "Girls" called "American Bitch." It aired on television February 26, 2017. 

The episode shows an interchange between the lead character on the show, Hannah (played by Lena Dunham, in a way that feels autobiographical) and her literary idol, Chuck Palmer. 

Hannah has written a blog post about several women's accounts of their treatment by Palmer. 

The women claim that he manipulated them into sexual activity. 

Palmer is incensed by this blog and he invites Hannah to his apartment.

Right away the viewer finds herself wondering why Hannah would accept this invitation, but that is part of the story. 

Hannah is flattered that her idol reached out to her.

Hannah is triggered into repeating a previous episode of ambiguous sexual abuse by a teacher who told her she was "special" and who repeated those words as he massaged her neck and hair in grade school.

Hannah is curious to find out the truth.

So Hannah and the writer have this interchange, and he tries to convince her that he is the one who is wronged. That he is a jerk, maybe, but not a sexual abuser.

As a character, Hannah is repeatedly shown in sexual situations that are degrading, unhealthy, and boundary-crossing and this episode is no exception.

She follows the writer into his bedroom, where he gives her a book by Philip Roth that was almost called "American Bitch."

The viewer finds herself wondering why Hannah has gone into the bedroom.

The writer asks her if she will lie down with him, and she does.

Is this a seduction? Is this a trick? The viewer knows that something bad is about to happen.

And indeed it does, as the writer turns the situation very explicitly sexual.

Hannah participates, for a moment, and then she jumps up.

She has a lock of horror on her face.

The writer is grinning from ear to ear.

He has just proven that Hannah is no different than the girls she wrote about as victims.

Without ever asking him what had occurred.

From what I could gather, the reviews of this episode portray the writer as exactly the bad guy Hannah thought he was.

But my first reaction was, that he wasn't the bad guy she wrote about at all.

He was, in fact, very much like Hannah herself. 

And in the episode, he showed her high-handed moralizing to be a pile of total hypocrisy.

The feminist movement was founded on the idea that women are equally as valuable as men, and have the same rights. 

But with rights come responsibilities.

By portraying Hannah with such raw honesty, Lena Dunham showed that women cannot avoid the consequences of their own actions.

Consequences they have traditionally blamed on men.

____________

 All opinions my own.