The best way to define what is “sexy” is to first define what is not sexy. Duck face? Not sexy. Fake tans? Not sexy. Internet think pieces about how some young woman making millions in the public aquarium isn’t sexy? Not sexy AND IRONIC.
Lena Dunham’s character Hannah in “Girls” is sexy. Apparently this is a thing that has to be written. She combusts with sexual energy and heartbreaking vulnerability — she simultaneously claws out of and slinks around comfortably in her tattooed skin.
I enjoyed the first season of HBO’s “Girls” because it reminded me of my years as a 23-year-old woman trying to make it in New York City. But I’m a 38-year-old man living in Los Angeles now, and I haven’t been watching the second season of “Girls,” because I am more concerned with adult issues. Like which of my friends could I cook crystal meth with in an RV in the desert. This, it seems to me, would be the truest test of a friendship.
No, I’m not watching “Girls,” and that isn’t a judgment about the show. I am happy that “Girls” has given young women in New York a voice, because they were lacking a platform to express their feelings on boys and sex and drinking. I am just in a place right now when I am coming to the realization that the 20s are, mostly, a silly set-up to the punchline known as your 30s. Wisdom is the slowly dawning realization that you will never know anything or anyone as well as you might think you do or as desperately as you might want.
But I did watch the most recent episode that everyone is blogging and Tweeting and commenting and writing essays about. Sometimes, the internet is like the first amendment’s douchebag younger brother. The episode was about a two-day fling between Dunham’s character Hannah and an older man played by a dude who was in the movie “Watchmen” — a failed big-budget superhero movie about a subversive comic book that was actually a criticism of superheroes. I digress because I blog.
The controversy is simple, as are all things in our culture of “like” — could Hannah actually attract a hot older man like Nite Owl? The conversation (which is me being generous) divides itself the way a simple one cell organism divides itself, into two blobby camps. The first camp is the bros who confuse sexy with the commoditized lady body gruel they’ve been served for years. I was a flesh merchant at men’s magazines for years and I will tell you that we were always obsessed with the boners of our readers. Sexy is dancing naked in moonlight and giggling until you can’t breathe. Sexy is locking eyes and dirty telepathy. Anything else is an imagination failing and bored sexual scenarios dreamed up by hacks filling in the vacuum.
Would a “hot” man want to engage in sexual congress with a charismatic spazz like Lena Dunham’s character Hannah? First of all, I know more than one hot man out here in Los Angeles who would have sex with a Dyson vacuum cleaner, so long as it was an Emmy-winning Dyson vacuum cleaner. But the answer is yes — because the only man who wouldn’t respond positively to a woman risking a kiss is a man who will never have anything truly good or beautiful in his swinish little life. These men will be found dead in their man caves in 30 years.
Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, but crazy comes in a close second. And Hannah is mad, out of her mind, crazy — crazy to live, crazy to learn, crazy to figure out the point, which she never will because nobody ever does. She is feral with passion.
All of my past girlfriends were sexy too. This is not me bragging. Why wouldn’t the women I’ve dated have been hot? I dated them, you didn’t. I thought they were sexy and that’s all that matters. They each had that thing that makes someone sexy — a shockingly crude sense of humor, a pirate’s smirk, a brain and booty. Let’s be honest here too: I’m chubby, and cranky, and super mega-humble. There is no reason hot women would want to get down with me. But they did, and there’s a good reason why — because I am fabulously wealthy.
Attraction is an invisible force, like gravity. Every minute of every day people collide into one another and explode like supernovas right there at the party or outside the bar. A woman that a herd of men think is hot laughs at a joke told by a balding man with a smile like a stack of pancakes. A man with rock star good looks listens raptly as a woman with violin curves sings a story that moves him to close his eyes and lean into the general direction of her face. A beautiful model and a ripped actor kiss with all the heat of an unopened can of New England clam chowder. That last scenario is proof that sexy doesn’t always happen, especially between sexy people. But when sexy happens, it’s sexy.
I know how the internet loves definitive answers to questions. A “hot” guy, or any guy, would probably find Hannah sexually attractive — if not, also, eventually, maddeningly immature and self-absorbed. But that just makes her more of a messy human, and less a catalyst for binary discussions about gender roles.
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