Nowhere has this idea been expressed more brilliantly or traumatically than in the HBO series Girls. In fact, the ethos of many women’s studies departments across the country became Hannah Horvath’s undoing this week when she pursued pornographic behavior and, instead of enticing her boyfriend Adam, wound up losing him instead.
Convinced Adam has lost interest (“there’s nothing weird or exciting about our sexual life anymore… He’s treating me like an ottoman with a vagina”), Hannah decides to surprise him with a role-playing scenario that begins with her dressed in a blonde wig, picking him up in a bar, and ends with one of the most revealing dialogues in the show’s short tenure:
Hannah: “I don’t have ideas like that. I was just doing your ideas. I was just doing sex the way you wanted to.”
Adam: …”But…you were outside yourself. You were outside your body, watching everything.”
Hannah: “So, what does it matter? If you’re getting what you want, what do you care if I’m like, ‘in my body’? You can’t be the body police.”
Adam: “You have an old idea of who I am. Sex was the thing that kept me from drinking …it was like that with us for a while, too. But then, we fell in love. And I wanted to have sex with just you, as us.”
The idea of a mentally and emotionally engaging sexual relationship leaves Hannah confused, and her confusion leads to Adam’s abandonment. Hannah believes she must be a pornographic goddess in order to maintain Adam’s love. Adam, on the other hand, values Hannah as someone more and better than a pornographic fantasy. He desires her physically, mentally and emotionally. And Hannah just doesn’t get it because her body is the only self she knows.
Second-wave feminism has passed down a twisted legacy, with the promise of sexual freedom masking the reality of intellectual and emotional slavery. Belle Knox and Hannah Horvath are two of the many examples of millennial women chained in their bodies at the sacrifice of the intellect and emotion that make up their whole selves.