On All Fours: Did We Witness a Rape on Sunday’s Episode of Girls?

By MJ Snow on Mar 16, 2013 to Girls

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I think that HBO’s Girls is my favorite show. This is a big shocker to me, personally, as after watching the first episode, I really truly hated it. It was incredibly uncomfortable, but strangely fascinating, and like a car crash, I couldn’t bring myself to look away. As we approach the end of the second season, I find myself already mourning the loss of my Sunday nights with Hannah and company.

In his March 12 recap of Girls Season 2, episode 9, Jacob Klein posed an interesting question to our readers. “Did Adam rape Natalia?” This is a question that my mind has been wandering back to revisit, even days later. After five re-watches, this is what I’ve come away with as my final answer.

My first impression of Natalia (Shiri Appleby) was that she wasn’t the kind of girl who would ultimately understand Adam (by Adam Driver) and his dark side. She showed us this very clearly in Sunday’s Episode, On All Fours, when she visited Adam’s apartment for the first (and I’d be willing to bet, the last) time. “It’s depressing… and darker, than you are.” She said to Adam, who then asked, “Does it make you feel differently about me?” Natalia tells him no, it doesn’t make her feel differently, however her eyes tell us that her feelings are already changing. Adam sees it too, and so the test begins.

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When Adam orders her only all fours, a clearly uncomfortable, Natalia complies. Disgusted by the his filthy floor, she wishes for Purell, but crawls to his bedroom as demanded. The crawl is long and awkward, and the tension is nearly overwhelming. Impatience takes over and Adam tosses Natalia roughly onto the bed, saying “I wanna hit the walls of you,” before awkwardly mounting her from behind. Within seconds he’s moved over her, “finishing” on her chest as Natalia protests, “No! Not on my dress!” Her expression is pained and as he moves away, we’re treated to a pretty realistic shot of the aftermath. “I like, really didn’t like that…” she mutters, wiping off with his shirt as he apologizes, claiming to not know what came over him.

I think we all know what came over Adam. Stepping outside for some air, running into pants-less Hannah (Lena Dunham) on the sidewalk in the midst of a somewhat uncomfortable party-going experience, drinking for the first time in years, Adam is in no position to be making responsible choices. Adam is a dark and somewhat creepy guy. Hannah, understood him in a way, and perhaps due to her own personal quirkiness, was accepting of his extreme oddness. Seeing Hannah stirred up some pretty intense emotions that Adam didn’t quite know what to do with. Watchers of the series will recall that when Adam was engaged in conversation with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) about Hannah in Season 2, Episode 6 (Boys), it was clear that Adam’s feelings for Hannah were still extremely strong.

I think what he inflicted upon Natalia wasn’t rape at all, but a kind of a test to see if she could actually handle the real Adam. I believe that if she’d tried to leave, Adam wouldn’t have stopped her. Natalia never protested at any point, other than showing a bit of panic when he was about to mess up her dress. She could have, and probably should have protested, but she did not. Adam, while being a pretty smart guy, is not a mind reader, nor is he even a particularly intuitive person. While the experience was uncomfortable and upsetting for Natalia, I think it also was for Adam. It shouldn’t have happened, but if you look at it from another perspective, Hannah might have actually enjoyed it. I think for a person like Adam, that is somewhat confusing, as not all girls are going to react to his idiosyncrasies the way that Hannah did. Should Adam have just figured it all out? Was he even conscious of the fact that he was “testing” Natalia? Is it OK that his own needs took precedent over the needs of his partner in this particular sexcapade?

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Opinions on the subject of rape are going to be strong and often emotional, and we’re all entitled to our thoughts concerning the subject, nonetheless. I think that one  of the things that I love about Girls is that every episode leaves you with something to ponder. Whether funny, sad or just plain shocking, I finish every episode with my head full of questions. What actually was that substance that they tossed on Nattie’s chest?  Is Adam really a bad guy? Is Hannah really, truly crazy? Will we ever look at a Q-tip the same way again? The Girls season finale airs this Sunday and I truly cannot wait to find out what we’ll be left to ponder over the off season. I know I, for one, will be waiting with bated breath for Season 3 to begin.


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  • MB

    Ill go out on a limb and say that not approving of wear (outside your body) your partner ejaculates is not rape. Bad sex? Absolutely. Break up with him. But dont call the cops. Come on, lets grow up a little here. You want to send a guy to jail for 20 years for coming on your dress?

  • Laurel Denver

    Pathetic scene, with a main character (Adam) doing things he would never do. If you watch the rest of the series, this scene seems to be more about Lena Dunham’s running theme that porn culture has ruined men and made them think sex is something it is not.

    The Adam of the rest of the series is not capable of doing this. He’d just kick her out and go pleasure himself and hit a wall.

  • MM

    Consent is not the absence of a no, but the presence of a yes. Maybe she didn’t beat the shit out of him but she didn’t say “yes” either. Alcoholism is a disease that doesn’t go away, and Adam, an alcoholic, should have known better than to drink right after seeing Hannah and put his new girlfriend, Natalia, in a situation with him where he can’t control his actions. Adam probably has a dark past, yes. Hannah probably understood him, yes. That doesn’t excuse what he did Natalia and doesn’t stop it from being sexual assault.

    • MB

      Thats the stupidest thing i’ve heard in quite some time. You have a conversation with an affirmative YES! before every intimate encounter? Do you employ a notary?

  • CB

    SHE DID PROTEST! She said, ‘No!’ and was clearly very uncomfortable, and non-verbal cues that say ‘no’ are just as important as verbally saying ‘no.’ Any sexual partner, especially a close boyfriend as Adam was, knows whether their partner is ‘into it’. And Natalia clearly was NOT into it. You don’t do something so sexually explicit without ASKING your partners permission for the first time you do it or knowing that they’re someone who would want it.
    It can be shocking and scary when someone you care about acts this way, and of course she wasnt going to physically fight or yell at him because its her own boyfriend who assaulted her and she was in shock.

    You’re blaming the victim in this article, and its disgusting.
    If it was so distressing that she ended the relationship, Im pretty sure it was rape.

  • Anon

    am DISGUSTED by this article. You should be ashamed of yourself. Natalia “should have” protested? Have you ever even been raped? Do you even know what it’s like?

  • Anon

    Are you an idiot this is RAPE

  • Kat

    It was uncomfortable because it WAS rape. Saying Natalia “should have protested” is a disgusting form of victim-blaming. She never consented to having sex with him, and she gave him no signs of enthusiastic consent. Consider how differently she acted when they had sex for the first time consensually. You’re right, Adam is not a mind reader…why is why he should have ASKED what she was comfortable with. A lack of a protesting “no” does NOT equal consent.

  • http://twitter.com/houndgirrl M.J. Snow

    I was truly fascinated to see Natalia and Adam together again tonight. I thought she would have been long gone after last week’s episode.

  • Eva

    I don’t see this scene as a rape either. Thought uncomfortable to watch, Natalia hardly told Adam to back off or leave her alone. Was she disgusted with his behavior? Yes and that was plainly obvious in her expressions. And Adam realized she’s not Hannah, who by the way, would probably have enjoyed his sexual demands.

    • Anon

      This is clearly rape.

    • http://twitter.com/KaylaWildflower @KaylaWildflower

      I don’t watch this show, only watched one episode before; don’t like it. But was glad an encore came on of the controversial “rape?” scene. So saw last 15 minutes of episode. From what I saw, it wasn’t rape. Did everyone miss the part where when he said “I wanna hit the walls with you,” she actually said, “ok,” albeit a little skeptically. She actually complied with this whole thing til he was going to cum on her dress.

  • http://twitter.com/hena_h Hena Hussain

    Whatever it was – it was really uncomfortable to watch. I get that Adam is not a mind reader but she was so obviously not into it – he totally used her (abused her??) for whatever the hell was going in his head – not okay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roger.bell Roger Bell

    You do mean “bated” breath.

    • http://twitter.com/houndgirrl M.J. Snow

      I actually think it does say bated…

  • http://hbowatch.com/ Jacob Klein

    I thought the articles about this floating around were pretty ridiculous thanks for taking this on MJ.

    Not to sound unsensitive to rape victims (an interesting start to any sentence), but I think she has every right to dump him, yell at him, even slap him in the face but to charge him with rape? That’s a little much. Not sure he needs his life ruined for what he did.

    He’s guilty of being a complete asshole. She told him he wasn’t in to rough stuff and he took it too far.

    That said I think Adam needs some help. Much like Hannah is getting help. Adam’s disdain for.. well pretty much everything (doctors, food types, most people) is going to really hurt him in the long run.









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