From Our Readers
July 05, 2013 6:00 am

News broke recently that a porn parody of HBO’s Girls was to be released in the coming months. This Ain’t Girls XXX consists of the show’s lead, Hannah, experimenting with lesbianism, only to return to her on-again off-again boyfriend, Adam, where they engage in BDSM. The show’s star and creator, Lena Dunham, took to Twitter to express her discomfort at the idea, and hit the nail on the head as to why the porn parody is problematic.

As Dunham stated on Twitter, “Girls is, at it’s core, a feminist action.” By creating a porn version of the show, Hustler, while mistakenly thinking they are staying true to the show’s message, takes the show from its female-positive space and redirects it back to the normalized space of the male gaze. Girls is a show about women, created by and for women (that’s not to say that men can’t enjoy it too). While is it not the only feminist show on television, Girls is arguably the most celebrated, thanks in part to it’s commitment to accurately portray female lives. By making a porn parody of a feminist show that is already pretty damn sexually explicit, Hustler undermines what Dunham has created.

Dunham also tweeted “because a big reason I engage in (simulated) onscreen sex is to counteract a skewed idea of that act created by the proliferation of porn.” The show’s realistic depiction of sex is never shot with the male gaze and is not there to turn the viewers on. The vast majority of porn is created for men, teaching them that many of the behaviors and acts are acceptable in their own personal sexual lives. Porn is fiction and should not be anybody’s primary way of learning about sex or sexuality. As a 20-something woman, I’ve had my fair share of guys suggest or do something where the only possible way it even crept onto his radar was through porn. Dunham’s distinction between porn and sex on her show is an important one because sex on her show stands in direct contrast to what one would see in porn. On Girls, the women do not have perfect bodies and there is no real emphasis on who is receiving pleasure. Sex on Girls can be awkward, embarrassing, and uncomfortable, but it can also be satisfying and great, much like real life. Girls has received it’s fair share of criticism (particularly the depiction of race on the show), but Dunham should be commended for creating a space where physical diversity amongst women is normalized and sex is realistically portrayed.

The male gaze is omnipresent in film and through Girls, Dunham has offered a female-positive alternative. By forcing Girls to undergo the male gaze, Hustler does the show a disservice by eliminating something special about the show in order to reduce it to the most common denominator.

Story by Rosalyn Hummel.

Featured image via.

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