A few posts below me, James Bowman has an excellent preliminary analysis of the new HBO show "Girls" (I say "preliminary" because his full blow-by-blow of Lena Dunham's new series will appear in a forthcoming issue of The American Spectator).
In his blog post, Bowman has given us a good deal to think about: Is "Girls" a feminist show or an anti-feminist one? He writes:
Most fascinating to me has been the way in which female journalists tend to read everything that strikes a nerve with women, as "Girls" certainly does, in feminist terms — even though, like "Girls," it may also be read as anti-feminist — at least as feminism is understood by most people today, as the yoke-fellow of the sexual revolution.
I suppose that I'm one of these "female journalists" that Bowman references. After all, I wrote about Lena Dunham's buzzy show for the Washington Times and concluded that the show is a damning indictment of "Sex and the City"-style popular feminism:
"Girls" will inevitably be compared to another HBO show about young women, "Sex and the City" (1998-2004). But "Girls" is less an extension of "Sex and the City" than it is a response to it — a tacit and even subversive acknowledgement that the sex lives of young post-feminist women are bleak.
Casual sex is not as fun and empowering as Carrie Bradshaw and her entourage of well-dressed friends made it out to be. These glamorous women taught a whole generation of girls that a woman can divorce sex from emotions "and just go out and have sex like a man" (in the words of Samantha Jones).
They taught women a lie.
"I felt like I was cruelly duped by much of the television I saw," Miss Dunham told the New York Times last month.
I don't know where Dunham stands on the question of "has the sexual revolution been good for women," but one thing is for sure: In her television show, the hook-up culture is shown to degrade women (and men). Sexual freedom, it turns out, doesn't "empower" women the way certain feminists promised it would. On this matter, Camille Paglia was far closer to the truth than the pop feminists when she wrote in Sexual Personae, "The search for freedom through sex is doomed to failure."
We'll have to wait and see what conclusions the eminent Mr. Bowman comes to!