By now, it is somewhat apparent that I am just slightly obsessed with HBO’s ‘GIRLS’ series. The characters and their anecdotes, dreamed up by the incomparable Lena Dunham, have grown on me. Like an invisible appendage.
The characters, for the most part, possess a refreshing real-ness and, as much as some of my peers claim not to identify with the series, I suspect primarily due to the demographic and socio-economic differences between us and them, (hey, not all of us are privileged enough to have our parents fund our ‘groovy lifestyle’ ya know.) There are actually quite a few idiosyncrasies in the girls’ personalities which I do identify with and recognize in myself and in a few of my girlfriends.
The two characters who resonate with me most, are the anxiety ridden, corky and deliciously self-deprecating writer Hannah and her Bohemian, worldly, unpredictable, complex friend Jessa.
The episode which particularly brought about this discovery was season one’s very aptly named ‘Vagina Panic’.
“Pause. I have something to contribute here.”
Jessa’s maternal cousin Shoshanna’s sweet, sincere naivety adds something both innocent and frustrating to the scene. With Jessa and Hannah, curiously listening on, she launches into a tirade of dating ‘do’s and dont’s for ladies’, quoting the author of a book she’s reading, “Sex from behind is degrading, ladies”. This immediately and visibly ire’s Jessa. “I am not the ladies.”
She then storms off, Hannah in tow, before dramatically gesturing and making one of my favourite statements of the series, one which, has made me dub Jessa The Unlikely Feminist.
“I’m offended by these posers! I don’t like women telling other women what to do or how to do it or when to do it!”
This fierce and obvious disdain for dating advice givers is a sentiment I have shared for the longest time.
Every time I skim the cover of glossy women’s magazines, go to women’s websites or scroll through my Twitter feed and read the words: “Ladies, you should always..” or “Real women do xyz..” or, my personal favourite “How to get him to ask you out..” I feel like finding the author and administering an epic high-five in the face.
It begs the question: Why are there so many people telling us what to do because of who we supposedly are? Which leads to my next question: Why are there so many people telling us WHO we are? Whatever happened to the beautiful complexities we are entitled to as individuals?
I’m sorry, but I absolutely , downright refuse to be reduced to a focus group.
What these dating ‘gurus’ ( and I use the term very loosely, particularly in reference to social media relationship experts) often neglect to mention. whether unconsciously or consciously , is the art of circumstance. What they’re purveying are generic ideas, solutions, opinions which do not take into account the human and circumstantial elements in people’s lives, indirectly implying that everyone’s situation, character and personality is therefore generic. These ideas are then programed into ‘innocents’ like Shoshanna who are so desperately seeking some sort of romantic/sexual salvation, who in turn enforce them on their peer group often alienating anyone with a different way of thinking. Those of us who strive rather, to be the exception as opposed to the rule.
Jessa’s outright refusal to be dictated to about what she should be doing, thinking, feeling, manifests in another episode where she hooks up with an ex who was visiting from out of town after enduring an entire afternoon of him gushing about his new girlfriend who he ‘really loves’ and reminding Jessa of how instrumental she was in his decision to dump her blah blah blah.
Now, what happens directly after his noble declaration of love for his new woman is not exactly high-ranking on the infographic of morality (they shag, then she kicks him out of her apartment), and Jemima Kirke’s character received quite a bit of flack for bedding a spoken for man just to prove a point, however, it’s the now infamous quip she made to a very flustered Shoshanna (who, mind you, may just have experienced her first taste of voyeurism) which struck a chord:
“I cannot be smoted. I am unsmoteable.”
This may seem crass and mean different things to different people, but I have subsequently removed it from it’s innately sexual context and placed it platonically to describe what it means to me.
To me, unsmoteable is a state of mind.
It is the unwillingness to accept a fate placated onto you by others.
It is the refusal to be put on your place by those who feel entitled and often take liberties to do so.
It is unashamed rebellion against social dictatorship.
It is about taking back power which for so long has been controlled by gender roles and one-sided views.
It is who I am. It is my story.
It is about saying NO to ‘the ladies’ and FUCK YES to ME.