Feminism, Post-feminism, and Young Women’s Reactions to Lena Dunham’s Girls

Rose Weitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article explores how women in a junior-level Women and Sexuality class taught at a large US research university make sense of the HBO television show Girls. Data come from essays written in spring 2013 by 28 students in response to the first three episodes of Girls. The students’ essays illustrate their ability to actively respond to the show’s portrayal of women’s lives in a nuanced rather than one-dimensional way. The most common topics in these essays were the show’s portrayal of male dominance in relationships, female sexual agency, female body disciplines, and the costs women pay for sexual activity. The essays illustrate how the students mobilize feminist and post-feminist frames, both singly and jointly, as well as the difficulties involved in trying to separate these frames from each other in either media texts or women’s lives. In addition, the data shed light on the struggles young women face in dealing with gendered expectations for sexuality, femininity, and body discipline in contemporary neoliberal society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-234
Number of pages17
JournalGender Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Audience response
  • Feminism
  • Girls TV program
  • Post-feminism
  • Television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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