Lust, Girls and The Nature of Weird Sex
We may not like to admit it, but there are aspects of sex that are inherently awkward. The wriggling out of tight jeans followed by the shuffling off of underwear under covers. The silent pause when neither partner can get the condom on quite right. The post-coital teeter to the bathroom with aggressively clenched thighs. These experiences are universal, they’re uncomfortable and they’re incredibly human. So why don’t we see them in mainstream media?
I’ve seen a lot of trashy television and movies. The type where couples throw each other against the walls of their apartment, leaving behind a trail of popped buttons, smashed decor and ripped-up shirts. Very few even make it to the bedroom, instead opting for locations like the dining room table or tiled kitchen floor. They never seemed to mind the lack of tailbone cushioning or the cold feeling of linoleum on their bare skin. None of that matters. Not when you’re taken over by such a primal urge. I remember thinking this was just standard pre-sex behaviour; each party undergoing some kind of lycanthropic transformation in the heat of the moment. I imagined my first time would be much the same and when it wasn’t, I was left wondering what I’d done wrong. I mean, If he really liked me, my favourite shirt wouldn’t still be intact, right?
The experience was unremarkable, as most first-times are. There were uncomfortable pauses, strange sounds and moments where I was painstakingly aware of how unflattering my body positioning was. I remember spending the majority of the encounter just trying to get into the same rhythm, and for the most part, it was to no avail. As he showed me out that night I thought back to Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic and, dare I say, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in Twilight, Breaking Dawn. Every movement of theirs had been intentional, passionate, perfectly executed. We, on the other hand, had been a fumbling entanglement of limbs.
While I’ve had some much better experiences since then, most have still been punctuated by awkward little moments. I don’t think this is a bad thing, it’s really just the nature of the beast. However, it’s not something we’re likely to see reflected on screen. It wasn’t until this year that I actually saw it done right and for that, I have to credit Girls. Those familiar with Lena Dunham’s work will know that she’s no stranger to casting her characters in an unflattering light. Granted, it can make for some pretty unlikable figures, but it also makes for some incredibly human sex scenes. Just think of the pilot episode; the image of Hannah desperately trying to rip off her tights, the muddled position readjustments, the way she asks whether Adam’s mad at her while he’s literally inside her. It’s weird, it’s uncomfortable and honestly, it’s refreshingly normal.
Season Five, Episode Seven. Dill falls asleep while giving Elijah an unenthusiastic blowjob, highlighting the often-disappointing nature of drunk sex. Season Three, Episode Six. Ray sheepishly tells a very passive Marnie that he thinks “he slipped out.” Season Three, Episode Ten. Hannah’s attempt at roleplay becomes confused, prompting Adam to tell her “it doesn’t make any fuckin’ narrative sense.”
These depictions of weird sex are so effective at normalising the awkward bits that mainstream media loves to ignore. Sure, they may not be as traditionally romantic, but isn’t real intimacy feeling comfortable enough to have these embarrassing little moments and just carry on? The nature of typical Hollywood-esque depictions makes the act seem less human. They prioritise aesthetics over all else, forgoing the sense of connection that often underpins our desire to sleep with each other. Conversely, awkward sex scenes are raw, they’re authentic and they demonstrate a genuine understanding of the human experience. In short, my point is this; though they really should, nobody makes sex scenes quite like Lena Dunham.