negotiate their own personal satisfaction in their sex lives.
Hannah’s sexual relationship with Adam fluctuates through several
purposes: self-validation, social and sexual boundary-pushing, and
gratification. Ultimately, however, the couple’s sex life is most
edifying for Hannah when it takes the form of a heteronormative,
monogamous relationship. During the third season in an episode
entitled “Role Play,” Hannah attempts to reinstate the deviant
sexuality that their relationship was founded on and, in doing so,
drives a wedge between her and Adam that contributes to the
demise of their relationship. Mirroring the white-knight trope that
Adam has embodied in other ways for Hannah, the relegation of
their sex life as something that “works” in the heteronormative,
monogamous, appropriate sphere and reemphasizes a need for
traditional gender behavior, should these women ever want to be
happy.
Shoshanna, after her breakup with Ray, dives head first
into the example set by her friends of using sex as a means of self-
exploration. At a dinner party at Hannah’s apartment in “It’s a
Shame About Ray,” she explains her senior year plan of
“alternating nights of [sexual] freedom with academic focus.”
Hannah declares it to be “smart, and strong, and feminist.” Here,
the show’s script outright aligns feminism with sexual promiscuity
for the sake of independence. This plan ends up having a negative
influence on Shoshanna, however, when she lacks three credits
required for her to walk across the stage at graduation, and she
ends up lonely and unfulfilled, eventually crawling back to Ray and
begging him to take her back. Had Shoshanna learned some sort
of lesson regarding liberation from means other than sexual
gratification, perhaps the plot could be argued to push back against
this shallow, postfeminist vision of female empowerment. The
result, though, is that Shoshanna desires the monogamous
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