I don’t have cable, which makes me sound a lot more intellectual than I actually am, because I do have Apple TV, which allows me to watch a lot of documentaries, which again makes me sound much more intellectual than I am, because mostly I watch things about dogs, cults, and sexual taboos, and not about wars or history or presidents. Anyways, like I said, I don’t have cable, so on Sunday night I made the trek out to my parents’ house in Brentwood for some free Parmesan broccoli, overcooked (but delicious, mom) swordfish, and, most importantly, to catch up on season 2 of HBO’s Girls, because it’s required material for any aspiring writer and stealer of Lena Dunham’s whole career and entire existence minus the bad tattoos and matronly wardrobe. (Oh, and I also wanted to hang out with the fine people who pay my therapy bills, even though I’m still bitter about not being a product of an all natural water birth, and my mom makes me feel super inadequate because she is training for a half-marathon and burns more calories before 10 am than I do in a week, but whatever.)


Well, it certainly was a fortuitous decision on my part to go and get all family-oriented and watch a show about 20-something girls discovering themselves by playing musical chairs with human body parts, wasn’t it? Because this last episode of Girls was basically one great big drawn out sex-fueled-coke-binge-rave guest starring Hannah’s love handles and unapologetically pointy breasts peeking out through a neon mesh tank top and a creepy doll tied up to a bed post and a random shout out to AOL and Ann Taylor thrown in for good measure (not sure if this is a coincidence but also saw today that Kate Hudson did some modeling for Ann Taylor. Comeback?) You know, there’s really nothing like watching a threesome between two live humans and a doll, from the comfort of mom and dad’s couch, sandwiched between dad and boyfriend and mom’s feet that she wants dad to rub. No really, there’s nothing like it, especially when you can literally see mom nervously wondering whether this is the kind of sexual thing that her daughter is into because of that one time she read a blog post about that one time I had sex wearing a dog collar. It was one time, guys. Let. It. Go.


But, enough of my checkered sexual past, also known as three months ago. Let’s talk about whether or not the fact that the artist known as Booth Jonathan, aka Marnie’s self-satisfied love interest/creepy doll fetishist/bedroom nymph, is terrible at sex is or is not a feminist victory. I’m at a bit of a stalemate, because, on the one hand, Marnie has just increased  her “number” without experiencing any apparent or discernible physical pleasure, and as most of us know, that’s the most sucky thing to ever happen because it’s a total waste of a spot on an almost at-capacity guest list. And then, on the other hand, that little pompous prick called Booth gets totally emasculated, and we, as the viewer, can’t wait to see Marnie laugh in his little hyena face and ridicule him for his pathetic performance and complete lack of skill and expertise in the love-making or even fucking department, especially occurring on the coattails of his well-documented claims to the contrary (“I’m a man and I know how to do things” – Booth, “You look like someone who is about to have sex with me” – Booth).


Just as we’re sitting there clutching a tub of hummus feeling completely mortified, bewildered, and all of the synonyms for embarrassed combined into one new power word, Booth asks if she’s on the pill, and upon her confirmation of this fact, proceeds to abruptly ejaculate inside of her, which, in my opinion, is highly intimate, unsafe, and invasive, especially when done without a woman’s direct permission. While I’m actually not at all surprised that this pretentious small man of an “artist,” who, earlier in the episode, smugly coerces Marnie to dip out early from her degrading job working in some stuffy old people clubhouse to fornicate in his sprawling studio which is decorated with old electronics and severed dolls heads straight out of a Juxtapoz Magazine editor’s wet dream, could end up being such a sad and fecund flop in the bedroom, I did expect the situation to be handled differently by Marnie, and thus by the writers of the show.

JUST STARFISHIN’ (also, fool has a lady butt)

I know feminism is about equal rights, and is not a vengeful battle of the sexes, and I’m all for diplomacy, but sometimes I just want to see some metaphorical bloodshed in the form of Marnie calling out that impish excuse of a man for his sexual shortcomings, especially when he’s been so incredibly disrespectful, falsely self-assured, and pompous, with nothing to back it up. But, despite my hardest willing, and much to my disappointment, that moment of vindication (mostly for me) never comes. At, least not in this episode. And why does this get my panties in a twist? Because I’m an over-thinker, and also because when so much of the sex we see on TV and in movies showcases mutual, perfectly-timed orgasm, hairless genitalia, and rose-scented vaginas that are all pink and puffy like Jennifer Lawrence’s face, it’s an honest relief to see a sex scene in which a woman’s lack of enjoyment, and her partner’s total disinterest (or was it unawareness?) in tending to her needs and desires, are accurately reflected and even highlighted. Not to mention, his alarming and hyper-masculine-bordering-on-misogynistic sense of absolute entitlement to and ownership of her body (as was exhibited by the way he, without hesitation, came inside of her, because being on the pill does not automatically give a man carte blanche to blow his load in her vagina).

Pretentious/racist art talk in action

So why are these cringe-worthy, hard-to-watch pop cultural moments so enlightening and valuable and maybe even a little political if we let them be? Because they are real and relatable and refreshing and raw (repetition of the letter r was mostly accidental). I’m just wondering,  how many of you have had the kind of sex where you’d been lusting after a guy for three semesters of chemistry and then he finally pays you some attention and you smoke a joint and go back to his dorm room and it’s over in 37 seconds and you’re wondering if there is something wrong with you or if you’re missing a switch or something and he is all exhausted and heavily smoking a post-sex cigarette like something awesome and and intense just happened and you feel like you’re in a bad movie watching someone else’s fantasy crumble? (Ed Note: Wait, you too?) I know I have.

oh, so you’re a condescending prick, huh?

So, I guess what I am realizing by posing this question is that I selfishly wanted Marnie to be the braver me that I never was in that situation. Like, I wanted her to speak out on behalf of all the women who without entirely knowing (but kind of knowing somewhere inside) have mistaken an ego boost or a conquest with visceral sexual satisfaction. But, I guess the reason that particular scene resonates and infuriates and is actually so perfect and well done, is because most of us wouldn’t have been vocal in that situation either. Even though it’s so easy and obvious to watch it now with disgust and disbelief, there was a time, when even I was still so surprised and star-struck by the fact that I just landed the first string quarter back or a vaguely famous artist or jewelry-wearing commercial male model who did one campaign for Arizona Jeans, that I forgot to consider the actual happiness of my own martyred vagina.

Booth’s “Art”

So, did the Marnie/Booth sex scene have feminist implications? Was it a defeat or a victory for womankind? I don’t know, and I’m probably reading much too deep into it, but I do know that I hope to see this issue addressed by Dunham and co. in future episodes, and that Marnie’s character arcs and learns to decipher between actual sex that feels primal and good and the satisfaction of micromanagement and control. So, not to get all Naomi Wolf  on you bitches, but try to remember to prioritize your own pleasure, because it matters just as much as his does. That being sad, USE A FUCKING CONDOM WHEN BANGING TINY MANY WHORE ARTISTS, BECAUSE WHO KNOWS WHAT GALLERINAS THEY’VE BEEN GALLIVANTING AROUND WITH.
Jane Helpern

About Jane Helpern

Writer & Over-sharer. @janeohelp jane@cultistzine.com