Straying or Staying?

“This is a radical oversimplification, but Hollywood tends to sort women into two categories: those with bodies that fall within the generally accepted parameters for commercialized beauty, and those who don’t. If an actress’s body falls within those parameters, all kinds of stories are available to her: she can have a career, a child, be a warrior, a lover, a genius, a drunk. But if an actress’s body doesn’t meet those standards, most of the stories she will be allowed to literally embody will be drawn from the non-conformity of her looks….”

Alyssa Rosenberg, “Lena Dunham’s Looks, the Misogyny of the GIRLS Backlash, and Staying in Your Assigned Story”, THINKPROGRESS

Comment to full text of story by respondent Elise S.: “I completely disagree with this statement: ‘What’s fascinating about Hannah, and what guaranteed a backlash to GIRLS is the character’s absolute refusal to stay in her place. She’s hungry for sex but not grateful for it. She has no need for Adam or anyone else to teach her that she deserves to be treated well: Hannah knows that, demands it, negotiates her shaky way towards it.’

“1. There’s no refusal to stay in her place because she HAS no place. This is a story about a girl who is utterly lost. She doesn’t know who she is, where she’s going, or what she wants out of her life other than she wants to write. That’s all she’s got.

“2. I don’t know what sex scenes you’re watching, but she’s definitely grateful for it. That’s why she keeps calling Adam despite the fact that he treats her like crap, and disappears for weeks at a time and only responds to her when there’s going to be sex involved.

“3. She makes absolutely no demands about being treated well. She repeatedly puts herself into situations where she’s totally disrespected. It’s so infuriating to watch that I find myself yelling at her to get some self-respect.

“If anything, I think Hannah falls into the exact place that Hollywood expects her to – based on her looks. She doesn’t fit the traditional norms of ‘pretty’ so she’s free to allow herself to be disrespected. She’s not allowed to be in a happy relationship with a traditionally Hollywood ‘good looking’ guy.”


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