Sexual Boundaries: What Is And Isn't Okay
Last week’s episode of GIRLS kind of shocked me; I’ve been thinking about it all week. In fact, I meant to reflect upon what happened shortly after, but I couldn’t even wrap my mind around it for a while. Besides Hannah’s complete meltdown and Q-Tip situation, Marnie’s devastating lack of awareness, Shoshana’s woman guilt and disappointment and Jessa’s disappearance, we have Adam desperately trying to move on.
If you didn’t see the episode, things go downhill as soon as Natalia, Adam’s new girlfriend, steps foot inside Adam’s apartment (spoiler alert!), which is a dingy man-cave, complete with scattered rusty nails and sawdust. Natalia sees all of this and comments that it doesn’t reflect on Adam, that the place is much darker than he is. Adam responds to this by demanding that she gets on “all fours” and crawl to his bed. She does so reluctantly, and then they have uncomfortable sex; there is a distinct power shift here, and Adam ultimately holds the reigns. Afterwards, Natalia says, “I don’t think I liked that,” and the status of their relationship turns deathly pale.
A lot of GIRLS fans were upset by this, and called this dysfunctional sex act “rape”. Did Adam rape Natalia, or did he just cross a very clear boundary? That’s a good question, and I’m still trying to figure it out. Natalia doesn’t tell Adam to stop, but she also seems very reluctant about the whole thing and certainly scared and disappointed after. The sex scene was super excruciating to watch, and dark. Adam is definitely in the wrong here and I think he ultimately violates Natalia’s trust and her body by not “taking things slow” as she requests earlier in the episode.
Books like 50 Shades of Grey are so explosive because they push buttons, boundaries and definitions of what sex should be. Are men allowed to dominate, take charge and debase if their partners consent to it? Is it okay to allow one person to have complete control? Is cruelty or degradation oppressive to women (and men)? Sex is a personal thing, and we need to set boundaries or rules. If you don’t have many, that’s okay, too. But let’s agree on the fact that they should exist. It’s not okay to make your partner feel uncomfortable or regretful.
If you are having sex, you need to communicate with your partner. It doesn’t matter whether you like doing it on the couch, in bathtub full of butterscotch pudding or even with several people; the point is that, you need to let the other person know. And when your partner agrees or disagrees to your rules or conditions, it’s your responsibility to stay true to them. Or find someone who is in more in line with your sexual appetite!
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