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The Social Conservatism of ‘Girls’

I’ve not seen the controversial HBO show “Girls,” but Ross Douthat discerns some pretty socially conservative messages in it. Excerpt:

I’m not suggesting that Dunham is secretly channeling the show’s profits to the Family Research Council. But it’s still interesting to watch how effectively “Girls” weaves together elements from various recent critiques of modern sexual arrangements. The pseudo-relationship that Dunham’s character, Hannah Horvath, is pursuing with a shirtless hipster layabout is a case study inthe unearned sexual advantages that a culture that assumes a certain amount of promiscuity affords to underachieving and unworthy men. Her best friend’s exhaustion with her nice-guy boyfriend suggests how easily long-term “starter marriage”-type relationships can become smothering traps for the people involved. The babbling “Sex and the City” acolyte who treats her own virginity as a dreadful stigma illustrates the point that the sociologists Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker make in their excellent book, “Premarital Sex in America”– that contemporary teens and twentysomethings consistently overestimate how much sex their peers are having, which in turn puts pressure on them to have more sexual partners than their own preferences would otherwise incline them toward. The show’s treatment of condoms, STDs and abortion suggests the practical limits of an ethic of “safe sex” even among a population that’s been trained since puberty to practice it. And the entire show seems to have been conceived to vindicate a point that the novelist and critic Ben Kunkel made in a Salon conversation several years ago, about how the nature of what you might call the “adultescent” dating scenes militates against genuinely romantic sentiments…

Read the whole thing. Any of you watched the show? Is Ross onto something?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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