Hannah Casually Using A Breast Pump On 'Girls' Gave The Series One Last Major Normalization Moment
With Girls over, it also means the end of Lena Dunham doing weekly work to show a very normal, very human, and very naked body on TV. Hannah Horvath's openness about her body and her bodily functions is an essential part of her identity, so it was only right that if viewers weren't going to get a birth scene in the series finale (that's so overplayed on TV anyway), that fans would get a breast pump scene on Girls before the series ended.
I'm a huge fan of Dunham and that's in part because of my admiration for and genuine love of her being naked on her HBO show so frequently. I never thought it was "brave" like some people have stated (although being that naked all the time certainly is not cowardly), I just thought it was the best portrayal of a real human who not only does super normal things, like get dressed in the morning and have sex, but is extremely comfortable in her own skin. While there was still plenty of nudity in the Girls series finale, whether she was taking a bath and changing into clothes in front of her mom or attempting to breastfeed her son (yet again, all very normal activities), the most revolutionary bodily function scene was perhaps when Hannah was using a breast pump, fully clothed.
Any sort of shame thrown around about pregnancy or breastfeeding makes me angry on a very visceral level. Humans are animals who populate this earth by giving birth to more humans. The most natural way (but, as Girls made sure to point out, not the only way) to feed babies is through breastfeeding. And when a baby will not breastfeed from your breast and you still want to provide breast milk, or you need to supplement breastfeeding, you can pump — and there's nothing shameful about that as Hannah proved in her blunt, abrasive style.
Hannah mentioned to Marnie earlier in the series finale that she was stressed at the idea of pumping when she was at work (not just because she might want to have sex with a student, but also at the idea of toting around a breast pump) and that's a real issue for many women who need to return to work after having a child. So when Hannah ended up having an argument with Marnie while wearing her breast pump, it was just another great leap for womankind by the one and only Lena Dunham.
As Hannah irrationally yelled at Marnie for calling her mother to come help, she wore her breast pump as it actively pumped milk out of her breasts. The only acknowledgment that was even given to Hannah's state was at the end of the fight, when Marnie called Hannah a ghostbuster because of the look of the breast pump apparatus. While breastfeeding in public is irrationally controversial in itself, it's rare for a TV series to show breast pumping in that frank of a manner and Hannah becoming pregnant during the last season of Girls would have been worth it for that scene alone.
Although it was comical, the humor didn't actually come from the breast itself (like many times in TV and movies). Of course, it was funny that Hannah was pumping while yelling at Marnie, but honestly, I was too busy listening to the hilarious dialogue referencing Brittany Snow and Pitch Perfect to notice and the genuine humor — and genius — of it all came from the complete lack of acknowledgement or shyness on Hannah's part, as per usual.
Dunham is not everyone's cup of tea, but she provided a voice — and a visual — for women that had often gone unheard and unseen before Girls hit HBO. With this achingly real moment that had no ego on the part of Dunham as she tried to highlight this struggle for mothers, she reminded me exactly why I will miss Girls. Because as she did something so unheard of on TV, she normalized regular events — like using a breast pump — for women everywhere, and she always knew exactly what she was doing.