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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Rethinking sex culture with Brandeis Hookups and ‘Girls’

Published: March 21, 2013
Section: Opinions

Dear Editor:

I read last week’s piece by Alison Thvedt, regarding the Brandeis “community” Facebook page, “Brandeis Hookups” (March 8, 2013). On the heels of the brouhaha over the most recent episode of the much-heralded series, “Girls”, on HBO (Sunday, March 10, 2013), there seems to be a parallel at play.

For those unfamiliar with this series, produced by Judd Apatow, and created, produced, written by and starring Lena Dunham (of indie film, “Tiny Furniture” fame), it has garnered an audience of about a million weekly viewers (by its third airing on Sunday evenings—so this number is cumulative). A network airing of a “hit” series would grab ten million viewers. Surprisingly, more that half of the “Girls” audience is male. It purports to be the “voice” of this generation: early 20-somethings, making their way in the world.

There has been a lot of sexual activity among the residents of the “Girls” section of Brooklyn; it seems to be consensual. But in the most recent episode, Adam Driver’s character brings a young woman back to his apartment, after a night of drinking (he had been in recovery from alcohol abuse for a year—until this particular evening). She is a new love interest for him, as he and Ms. Dunham’s character only recently broke up.

Almost immediately upon entering his apartment, he instructs the young woman to “get down on all fours.” She appears dumbstruck, based on the expression on her face. This is a squirm-inducing moment, which evolves into a cringe-inducing scene.

The tweeting that took place subsequent to this interlude indicated I was not alone. The piece on the internet the next day, questioning whether HBO had lost its collective mind, convinced me that my response was not generational.

Which brings me to the “Brandeis Hookups” Facebook page. The March 2 post, as recounted by Ms. Thvedt, regarding a sexual act that a person did not enjoy (it apparently made her ill; I hope it was consensual), elicited a response from a male, who, based on his comment, perhaps hopes to become a staff writer on “Girls” (he might be happy to know that it has, in fact, been picked up for a third season). The other reprinted posts remind us who the biggest consumers of pornography are, demographically; and why many are incapable of having real connection with real people in a sexually intimate way (New York Times: “A Habit that Can Destroy Lives”, Nov. 11, 2012). As outlined in the New York Times piece, authored by Professors Gail Dine, and Robert Jensen, just as we take our cues about what to eat and what to wear from the food and fashion industries, young males (and an increasing number of females) learn about sex from the sex industry. The predominant theme? Male dominance and female subordination, often cruel and degrading. When sexual partners look to pornography as the standard, it can result in sexual experiences that are uncomfortable and painful, with verbal and physical abuse of the female being de rigueur (per Dine and Jensen).

But perhaps one need no longer look to the porn industry for sexual advice. We now have “Girls” and “Brandeis Hookups”.

Constance McCashin, MA, MSW, LICSW
The Psychological Counseling Center