American Woman

HBO is currently airing the final season of “Girls”, and so far they are hitting it right out of the friggin’ park. WOW. The show has been amazing – and we are only three episodes in. This past Sunday’s was entitled “American Bitch”, and I can’t stop thinking about it – the entire episode featured an encounter between Lena Dunham’s character Hannah, and a writer that she long admired named Chuck (played by the incredible Matthew Rhys – somebody get this dude an award…holy shit), when he summons Hannah over to discuss a piece that she wrote about him, describing him as a sexual predator. There’s a hell of a lot to take in during this episode – I’m going to need to watch it at least one more time – but I want to highlight this segment of dialogue for you:


HANNAH: I’m talking about the part where you’re a very fucking famous writer and she’s working really hard to have just a little bit of what you get every day.
(He scoffs) So, you invite her back to your hotel room.
What’s she supposed to say? No? – Uh – She admires you.
Then you unbuckle your pants.
What’s she gonna do next? You got it wrong.
It’s not so she has a story.
It’s so she feels like she exists.
And, by the way, people don’t talk about this shit for fun.
It ruins their lives.
You know that.

CHUCK: Do you hear yourself right now?

HANNAH:  Mm-hmm.

CHUCK: I am a grown man inviting a grown woman to my hotel room.
Did I put a gun to her head? Did I offer her a job? I may be stupid, but I’m not evil, sister.
An invitation isn’t inherently wrong or dangerous.
Sexuality’s very muddy.
That’s a real Grey area.
Or at least we say it’s a – Grey area so we can get –

HANNAH: I am so sick of Grey areas.

HANNAH: (sighs) When I was in fifth grade, I had this English teacher, Mr. Lasky.
He liked me.
He was impressed with me.
I did, like, special creative writing.
I wrote, like, a little novel or whatever.
Sometimes when he was talking to the class, he’d stand behind me and he’d just, like, rub my neck.
Sometimes he’d, like, rub my head, rustle my hair.
And I didn’t mind.
It made me feel special.
It made me feel like someone saw me and they knew that I was gonna grow up and be really, really particular.
It also made kids hate me and put lasagna in my fucking backpack, but that’s a different story.
Anyway, last year, I’m at this, like, whatever, warehouse party in Bushwick, and this dude comes up to me and he’s like, “Horvath, “we went to middle school together, East Lansing.
” And I’m like, “Oh, my God, remember how crazy Mr.
Lasky’s class was? “He was basically trying to molest me.
” And you know what this kid said? He looks at me in the middle of this fuckin’ party like he’s a judge and he goes, “That’s a very serious accusation, Hannah.
” And he walked away.
And there I am, and I’m just 11 again, and I’m just getting my fuckin’ neck rubbed.
Because that stuff never goes away.

CHUCK: Yeah, I’m sorry that happened to you.
I mean, it gives me a greater perspective on what triggered you, to use the parlance of our times, about my story.

HANNAH: I didn’t tell you so you’d feel sorry for me.

CHUCK: No, I’m just saying I’m sorry because it’s an awful story.

HANNAH: Yeah, but look at me.
I’m smart.
And amazing.
And now I have a story.

(Later in the episode)

CHUCK: And what are your dreams for the next five years? Sorry to sound like a “People” magazine interview.
HANNAH: No, it’s okay.
It’s a good question.
I want to write.
I want to write stories that make people feel less alone than I did.
I want to make people laugh about the things in life that are painful.

That’s what I wanna do.

CHUCK: Good goal.
That’s a really good goal.

I don’t know if the power of this scene is coming across in the written word, but…I suspect it is. This part kills me, probably because it IS me:

What’s she gonna do next? You got it wrong.
It’s not so she has a story.
It’s so she feels like she exists.
And, by the way, people don’t talk about this shit for fun.
It ruins their lives.
You know that.

I can’t count the number of times that the imbalance of power that exists in this world has affected me, has prompted me to do things that I am very not proud of…simply to validate my own existence. In hindsight, my shame runs deep and I wonder why I put myself through such hell, and I struggle to figure out why validation mattered so much to me – but it did. It still does. I wish I could find a path to enlightenment and validation that didn’t pass through the land of a thousand mistakes and land mines, but…I haven’t found that yet. Perhaps someday.

Does this resonate with you as well? I hope it does, because it’s hard thinking that I am the only one who feels this way, who still does shit they don’t want to do because suffering is better than the pain of loneliness. I wish there was a club for those of us who have made bad choices, where we could all meet up and hang out and live happily like the “Golden Girls” (straight up my life goals, btw) eating cheesecake around the kitchen table before retiring to the lanai, not a drop of judgment to be had anywhere. If you know of such a place, let me know – I’m in.

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