Conservative columnist Ross Douthat has declared his love for Lena Dunham. It hardly comes as a surprise that a New York Times writer, even one who dwells to the right of the aisle, would find the Girls prodigy appealing. What makes Douthat’s devotion disturbing is that he has managed to transform a goddess chained to a slew of liberal causes into a sacrificial lamb for conservative culture. In his struggle to do so, his misses the mark in what could have been one of the most culturally relevant critiques of Girls to date.
The critic defends Dunham’s showpiece Girls, writing,
She’s making a show for liberals that, merely by being realistic, sharp-edge, complicated, almost gives cultural conservatism its due.
It’s a seemingly ironic observation, based in the idea that Girls “often portrays young-liberal-urbanite life the way, well, many reactionaries see it…” That is, a subculture on the verge of self-destruction due to excessive amounts of what sociologist Robert Bellah dubbed, “the view that the key to the good life lies almost exclusively in self-discovery, self-actualization, the cultivation of the unique and holy You.”
In other words, as Gawker so simply put it:
He likes watching the show because it allows him to feel superior to Dunham and her fellow sluts.
By employing a rote, traditionalist perspective, Douthat argued himself into a hole, turning his love into judgement and burying his point in poorly-worded theory and equally bad theology.
10. We’re so fiercely independent that the only thing we need to be happy… is a man.
Post-second wave feminist romantic comedies rely on the Sheryl Sandberg boilerplate: upper-middle class, successful career woman with an impossibly huge apartment in big city stuffed with everything she could ever want. (See: Reese Witherspoon in Just Like Heaven.) The genre gives the image one slight twist: our heroine is secretly one step away from cultivating her very own cat collection. (See: Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.) True to Hollywood fashion, who better than the big, strong male superhero to fly in to save the day?
Picture it: You’re on a business trip and that girl from marketing with the low cut blouse is handing you a hotel key and offering a no-strings attached night of heaven and your wife will never find out. Before you make a move, consider the following very good reasons to say no.
3. You could break your penis.
No seriously, you could. There was an actual study done on this. People were actually paid to study the fractured penis and it turns out, it happens mostly to cheaters as reported by Dr. Andrew Kramer.
The heightened risk appears to be due to the unconventional situations, and consequently, locations, surrounding sexual acts, the researchers said. Men in the study who had suffered penis fractures commonly were having sex in unusual settings, including in restrooms or at work, when the injury occurred. The majority were having extramarital affairs.
In such atypical situations, sex may be rushed and involve unusual or awkward sexual positions, Kramer said.
Ouch. Is there a cast for this injury? That’s gotta be an awkward recovery.
Check out the first eight installments of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s ongoing series dissecting HBO’s Girls:
July 28: Girls: Best Friends Forever-ish
In 1975, film theorist Laura Mulvey posited that cinema possessed an inherent “male gaze” that objectified women on screen. This male gaze presumably exists because film (and television) is an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry targeting male viewership. Interestingly, the theory stretches back into the history of art:
“When you look at an object, you are seeing more than just the thing itself: you are seeing the relation between the thing and yourself. …The [Renaissance era] painting of female beauty offered up the pleasure of her appearance for the male spectator-owner’s gaze. But the spectator-owner’s gaze sees not merely the object of the gaze, but sees the relationship between the object and the self. He sees her as a creature of his domain, under his gaze of possession…”
Lena Dunham is one of a small but growing number of women behind the camera being praised by feminists for cultivating the “female gaze” on screen in the 21st century. However, the praise she is receiving from feminist circles isn’t as liberating as one would think:
“After centuries of women being played back to themselves through the male gaze, we are being played back to ourselves through the female gaze,” [Make Love Not Porn founder Cindy] Gallop said. “I love, love, love how much nudity and skin exposure Lena Dunham goes for. That is real world body, having sex with men who find real world bodies desirable.”
Wait. Women have struggled to move into seats of real power in the film and television industry in order to… make sex ugly? That’s the female gaze?
I love The 40 Year-Old Virgin for the same reason Shoshanna Shapiro quickly became my favorite character on Girls: not because of her personal virginphobia, but because in a world threatened with terrorism, hunger, and the pending threat of Obamacare, virginity remains one of the greatest crises of our time.
Thanks to the goddess feminist revolt of the sexy sixties, bedroom activities have risen to the top of the pops when it comes to ratings-driven conversation. As a result, virgins have become stigmatized as uncool goods. It’s no wonder, then, that pop culture-obsessed Shoshanna is neurotic enough to spend an entire season trying her best to lose her virginity so she can catch up to her “adventurous” female counterparts like Jessa (who came to the states for an abortion) and Hannah (who has recently been diagnosed with HPV).
How did feminism come to embrace promiscuity as a form of empowerment? Is the “adventurous” woman treating her HPV really happier than the biblical feminist who resisted the culture and waited until marriage to have sex?
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The list of effective antibiotics has been dwindling as the bacteria became resistant, and now its down to one. Five years ago, the CDC said fluoroquinolones were no longer effective, but oral cephalosporins were still a common/easy treatment. Now injected ceftriaxone is the only recommended effective drug we have left. And it has to be given along with either azithromycin or doxycycline.CDCSo, yes, getting gonorrhea now means that you have to go in and get antibiotics through a needle. And then everyone with whom youve had sex in the last 60 days has to get tested, too.
Once gonorrhea becomes resistant to the last of our cephalosporin antibiotics — “its only a matter of time,” according to Dr. Gail Bolan, Director of STD Prevention at the CDC in todays announcement — we will have no treatment. Then when it gets into your bloodstream, it will be lethal.
I always have this sense that someone will figure it out before that time comes, but there is very little research and development going on right now in this area. Dr. Bolan mentioned one set of ongoing clinical trials.
Image courtesy shutterstock / Arkady
More on health and medicine at PJ Lifestyle:
Theodore Dalrymple: Is Obesity a Disease or a Moral Failing?
Dr. Helen Smith: Fruit Flies Give Clues to Why Women Live Longer Than Men
Dr. Peter Weiss: Defensive Medicine Kills