“Girls” and the Reality of Sexual Assault

By Kayla McCombs

I recently started watching the HBO series “Girls.” The decision to watch it stemmed from an odd mixture of my crush on Adam Driver and my irrepressible desire to have an opinion on everything and everyone, including the series’ creator Lena Dunham. As a person who cares deeply about social justice issues, I had “Girls” in the back of my mind for a while due to a lot of controversy over its lack of racial diversity and abrasively middle-class characters. That was my motivation to watch the show—I wanted to argue about it.

Photo by Rene Böhmer

While the aforementioned issues are undeniably important, I won’t be touching on them in this post. Instead, I want to delve into the topics of sexual assault and relationship abuse, two very real problems that are to this day clouded with controversy and misunderstanding. Sexual assault and abuse are often portrayed as being straightforward and easy to identify in film and television. While they both have distinct definitions—and it would be great if the world could be on the same page as to what constitutes either of them—the reality is that most cases come across as ambiguous and confusing. This, naturally, is a major source of pain for many victims who feel unsupported or discouraged from speaking out or asking for help.

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