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Why the sex scenes in Girls were important

The sixth and final season of HBO and Lena Dunham‘s phenomenal series Girls has just aired! And many of us in the Lust office are super sad to see it go. Mostly because it was a breath of fresh air in terms of the way Girls portrayed real, modern dating and sex!

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Girls is well known for it’s unique, explicit and often cringe worthy sex scenes. In fact, you’ll find endless lists and rankings online of the most awkward sex scenes, from lackluster missionary positions with very little eye contact, to dick slips and near misses that could have lead to unwanted anal. Girls has explored everything from menstrual sex to role play to gay sex, themes that I’ve also explored in XConfessions. So it’s no wonder I’m such a big fan!

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One thing that’s always made women feel comfortable when watching Girls – even if sometimes it’s just too damn awkward to look at – is the way in which women’s bodies are represented freely and equally. The cast of girls are fairly diverse in terms of body type. Admittedly, it’s not ethically diverse, but body confidence and self-love is abundant! It’s great to see women talk about their bodies openly among friends, something even Sex and the City didn’t touch on too much, and Lena Dunham’s constant state of undress is super refreshing! The girls bathe and pee together and seem comfortable and sexy around their sexual partners, for the most part.

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My view is that sex in film or TV should be portrayed from the female perspective just as much as the male. Kids can stumble across the wrong kind of porn from a young age and it’s even easier to pick up bad, negative ideas about sex from content that’s readily available on your TV or Netflix account. Girls has managed to show something that’s usually either hidden, misogynized or glamorized and unrealistic. They’ve shown what sex is really like for twenty-something women, especially millennials.

Lena Dunham said in an interview with NME that she hoped to “advance women towards a space where there’s no place that isn’t safe for them to go on TV” and that’s incredibly important! Not only did Girls introduce women to more normal and realistic sex scenes on TV, but it also tackled some super difficult issues. Jessa encounters an unexpected period during a hook-up in a public bathroom and deals with it without shame or embarrassment. Hannah, who is usually body positive, finds nudes of other girls on her boyfriends phone and deals with those insecurities by replacing them with her own naked lounge pose, going against all the beauty norms we’re told to abide by! In one episode we even see Adam, a recovering alcoholic, get drunk and subject his girlfriend to a display of dominant and quite violent sex, which she goes along with and internalizes. The way both characters respond to this afterwards is pretty is relatable and actually pretty reassuring, but doesn’t ignore the fact that this is a real problem for many women.

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We don’t often see women in popular TV shows experiencing sex the way we do and this is why we need more women creating and directing and writing! We need to see real women with real bodies on our screens, in all states of undress. We need to see men portrayed as vulnerable as well as women. And we need to see women take control of their sexuality, as the girls in Girls do time after time!

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